When you meet with a car accident lawyer, one of the first things you will learn is that settlement amounts vary widely. We cannot give you a personalized case assessment until we set up a consultation for you. However, this article will provide a general sense of the factors that determine a claim’s value. When you are done reading, you can set up a time to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer at our firm in San Antonio.
What Is the Average Settlement Amount for Personal Injury Cases in Texas?
According to recent statistics, the average car accident settles for approximately $20,000. However, this figure takes into account less valuable cases, multi-million dollar lawsuits, and all of the extreme outliers. A given case could fall anywhere on the spectrum. So, how can you estimate the value of your case?
What Makes a Car Accident Case More or Less Valuable?
In fairness, people who have been hurt because another party acted negligently should always receive a settlement that reflects the cost of their injuries. While it is very true that the severity of your injuries will have a major impact on the value of your claim, case outcomes are affected by insurance policy limits and the strength of the legal arguments coming from each side. When estimating the value of your claim, you should consider the following factors:
Medical expenses can increase the total cost of an accident dramatically. While some injuries can be treated in a few weeks, others result in life-long disabilities. A typical car accident claim might list:
- A ride in an ambulance
- An overnight stay at the E.R.
- X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, and other diagnostic measures
- Follow-up appointments
- Ongoing treatments
- Prescription medication
- At-home medical equipment
- Any vehicle alterations that must be done to accommodate a disability
- Transportation to and from the hospital
The term lost wages refers to any income you missed, including your lost wages, tips, bonuses, overtime, and part-time earnings. If you have multiple jobs, your lost wages should reflect the total amount of money you had to forgo during your recovery. In addition to financial compensation, your lost wages can include unearned benefits and missed advancement opportunities.
Some of the highest car accident settlements reflect a claimant’s reduced earning capacity. The term “reduced earning capacity” refers to a significant decrease in a person’s ability to have a profitable career. In the case of catastrophic injuries, a fair settlement might reflect the claimant’s total inability to continue working.
The most common noneconomic losses are pain, suffering, trauma, and emotional distress. They are considered “noneconomic” because they do not have a fixed price tag attached. Other noneconomic damages include disfigurement and loss of consortium.
Other Accident-Related Expenses
In addition to the damages listed above, there are a few smaller losses that could factor into your claim. For example, you may be allowed to claim compensation for the amount of money you spent to hire help with housework and/or childcare. Choosing a lawyer with good attention to detail can help ensure that both major and minor losses are listed on your claim.
Insurance Policy Limits
While you are legally entitled to hold the at-fault driver responsible for the full cost of the accident, obtaining a payout from someone who does not have the means to provide adequate compensation can be difficult. Therefore, settlement amounts are often subject to the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits.
You can protect yourself by making sure that uninsured/underinsured driver coverage is included in your policy. If policy limits are preventing you from obtaining enough money to cover your losses, your lawyer may suggest filing claims against multiple defendants.
Even if you are certain the other driver caused the accident, you will need to show evidence of how the crash occurred and how your losses affected your life. Your ability to collect the full value of your claim may be contingent on your lawyer’s ability to find legally permissible ways to back your statements.
If you are worried that you do not have enough evidence, don’t dismiss the possibility of winning your case until you speak with a lawyer who knows where to look. While some pieces of evidence are likely to hold up in court, others are not, and an experienced attorney should know the difference. Permissible sources of evidence include:
- Photos and videos from the accident
- Bumps, scratches, dents, and other forms of physical evidence on the vehicles
- Witness statements
- Expert witness testimonies
- The police report
- Your medical bills
- Your employment records
- Your previous tax returns
In Texas, the amount of compensation you can receive is decreased by the percentage of responsibility you share with the other driver. For example, if you were 40% at fault, your payout would be lowered by 40%. Drivers who are assigned more than 50% of the fault are not eligible for compensation. In the interest of maximizing the value of your claim, your lawyer will help you demonstrate that the other driver’s actions were primarily responsible for the crash.
Your Familiarity With the Claim Submission Process
Too many people act in ways that detract from the value of their claims because they are unaware of the consequences. For example, you should be aware that if you accept a low settlement offer, you will not have an opportunity to re-open the case.
Other common errors include making self-incriminating statements to the claims adjuster and allowing the statute of limitations to expire. Having a knowledgeable lawyer ensures that you will have access to all of the information you need to protect your claim.
The Ability of Your Car Accident Lawyer
Choosing the right car accident lawyer for your case can have a huge impact on the amount of compensation you walk away with. Regardless of how much evidence exists or how severe your injuries were, you will benefit from a competent lawyer who can emphasize the strongest aspects of your case.
When determining whether or not a lawyer is a good fit, consider their past experience with similar cases and their track record of success. For lawyers, being professional means upholding the client’s best interests at all times. You should also be sure that the lawyer you choose is willing to litigate if the case goes to trial.
Meet With a Personal Injury Lawyer in San Antonio
Setting up a consultation with a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio will give you personalized insights into the potential value of your claim. At the same time, you will have the opportunity to decide if the lawyer you meet with is right for your case. Our firm offers free consultations in both Spanish and English. By the end of your first meeting with us, you should feel ready to make important decisions regarding your claim.
A car accident could have a bigger impact on your finances than you think. Working with the right lawyer can help ease the burden of sorting out liability while strengthening your case for a high settlement. Our attorneys understand that every dollar you walk away with is an important part of your recovery. When you need a car accident lawyer, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.