What Does a Car Accident Settlement Cover?

Damages in a Car Accident Settlement | Patrick Daniel Law
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Car accidents happen every day, but you don’t truly understand the impact they have until you are in a serious accident yourself. The challenges come from many angles, from financial pressure to emotional distress.

What’s worse, you are facing some big decisions about how to move forward. The other driver’s insurance company may contact you, ask for a statement, or even provide a settlement offer.

The important thing is to remain level-headed and make sure you fully understand the reality of your legal situation. While this involves being able to prove negligence, collect evidence, identify and interview witnesses, and much more, it is also important to understand what your claim may be worth.

No two accident claims are exactly alike. Therefore, a settlement that adequately covers the losses of one victim may barely scratch the surface for another.

Patrick Daniel Law can help you determine what constitutes a fair settlement and when it makes sense to fight for more. Contact our car accident lawyer today for a free case review.

Compensation for Your Losses

When someone else’s negligent or careless behavior – such as distracted or drunk driving – leads to a car accident, those injured in the crash can pursue compensation for their losses. Legally, these are known as damages.

Some damages are relatively apparent, while others are harder to define. Broadly speaking, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages after a car accident:

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to financial losses. They cover not only current expenses – such as medical bills and property damage – but also the inability to make money that you otherwise would have made.

For example, if you are unable to work for some time because of your injuries and that results in lost wages, you may be able to recover compensation for this lost income. In more severe cases, car accident injuries can lead to long-term disabilities that make it impossible to continue in your line of work. This is known as loss of earning capacity, with damages encompassing the wages you would have earned if not for your car accident injuries.

Similarly, with medical expenses, you should not just look at your immediate medical bills. You also need to consider any long-term expenses, including prescriptions, medical equipment, ongoing physical therapy, and more.

Ultimately, if you either have to spend money or lose the opportunity to make money because of your injuries, you might be able to recover compensation for it.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate accident victims for the emotional and psychological effects of their injuries. They are commonly referred to as pain and suffering damages

Some of the non-economic damages for which you can be compensated include:

  • Mental anguish
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Insurance companies often undervalue these damages. However, the impact of pain and suffering is no less real than your financial losses, and you have a right to pursue compensation for the adverse impact on your life.

Psychological trauma can have long-term consequences that make it difficult to live as you once did. It can affect your health and well-being in many ways, and it is only right that accident victims recover compensation for how the negligence of other drivers has impacted their lives.

That said, how much you deserve in non-economic damages is often less clear than economic damages – you can’t place a dollar amount on pain and suffering. However, there are accepted methods for calculating how much you may deserve in compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can review your case and determine how much you may be entitled to recover.

Contact Patrick Daniel Law Today

Is the Car Accident Settlement Fair?

Once you have done the hard work of determining what you deserve in compensation – ideally with the help of a lawyer – you then have to decide if a settlement offer is fair. This is not always clear-cut since you need to factor in the risk and costs associated with taking a case to court.

It is unlikely that the insurance company will offer you a fair settlement upfront. Generally, insurers start by providing low-ball offers that are clearly unfair if you know the full extent of damages in your case.

Read More: How Much Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?

However, after some negotiating, you may receive a settlement offer that is close enough to what you deserve that you are willing to accept it. But again, the decision to settle depends on your willingness to take the risk of going to court and prolonging the process.

Ultimately, you should lean on the advice of your attorney to make the right decision for you and your family.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Car accident claims can be difficult to navigate. While calculating the worth of your claim is a crucial part of building a case, it’s just one part of many.

At Patrick Daniel Law, we want to take this burden off your plate and allow you to focus on getting better. We know how to handle insurance companies to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of, and we can handle the entirety of your case from start to finish.

For a free consultation, please call Patrick Daniel Law today at (713) 999-6666. Our car accident lawyer serves clients in and around Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the liability claims for bodily injury in 2021 averaged $22,734, whereas liability claims for property damage averaged $5,314. However, these are averages.

Car accident settlements can range from a few thousand dollars to millions when catastrophic injuries are involved. It all depends on the circumstances of the accident. Some of the factors considered when calculating a car accident settlement amount are:

  • Fault in the accident
  • Insurance coverage
  • Severity of injuries
  • Medical & out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Property damage
  • Strength of evidence

Every car accident is different, and so is every car accident settlement. It isn’t necessary to know the average car accident settlement amount. It is more important to know that your car accident attorney is experienced, capable, and driven and that they will pursue the maximum compensation in your case.

Read More: Whiplash Claims: Average Payout for Whiplash Injury

There is no maximum compensation for compensatory damages in a car accident settlement in Texas unless the liable party is a public servant or rendering community service. However, keep in mind that Texas is a 50% modified comparative negligence state. Per Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 33.001, “a claimant may not recover damages if his percentage of responsibility is greater than 50 percent.”

If you are held liable for 50% of the accident or less, per § 33.012, “the court shall reduce the amount of damages to be recovered by the claimant with respect to a cause of action by a percentage equal to the claimant’s percentage of responsibility.” For instance, if you were found to be 10% at fault for the accident and your total damages were $10,000, you would receive $9,000 ($10,000 less 10%).

The only limit on damages in Texas is on punitive damages. Per § 41.008, punitive or exemplary damages are capped at whichever of the following is greater:

  • $200,000, or
  • Two times the total economic damages + the total non-economic damages (not to exceed $750,000)

A car accident claim can take anywhere from a matter of weeks to over a year to settle. It depends on the facts of the case, severity of the injuries, clarity of liability, and how difficult the insurance company feels like being. However, a quick settlement rarely means a fair one.

After a car accident, insurance companies will often try to settle quickly with a lowball settlement offer. They attempt to come to an agreement before all the facts are even known. Taking the first settlement offer you receive is never in your best interest.

Though you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible for any injuries resulting from the crash, it may take time for the extent of your injuries to become evident. It is always recommended to take the time to ensure you have an accurate idea of your damages before you accept a settlement offer.

Rather than worrying about how long it will take to come to a settlement, your energy would be better spent making sure your claim is strong. Get medical care early, keep all pertinent documentation, be cautious when speaking with insurance adjusters, take good care of yourself while you heal, and hire an experienced car accident lawyer.

Per the Consumer Bill of Rights from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), an insurance company typically has 5 days to pay your claim once that claim has been approved. However, coming to an agreement with the insurance company could take many months. Hire a capable car accident attorney to expedite the process and ensure you receive maximum compensation for your claim.

Most personal injury lawsuit settlements in Texas will not be taxed at the federal or state levels. Of course, there are some exceptions to this.

Most compensatory damages are not taxable if related to the injury suffered. For instance, medical bills, pain & suffering, attorney fees, loss of consortium, and anything directly related to the personal injury cannot be taxed. However, you will recover lost wages related to your injury at the net after-tax amount.

The exceptions: Punitive damages are always taxed. Any settlements resulting from breach of contract suits involving a personal injury will be taxed. Interest accrued on a pending judgment can be taxed.

When awarded compensatory and punitive damages, your lawyer can request that the damages be separated before being taxed. If you have any additional questions or concerns about the taxation of your settlement, your car accident attorney is well-versed in taxation laws.

Insurance companies are businesses. As such, they are more concerned with their bottom line than your well-being. They will latch on to any information that could lower their liability in the accident. Therefore, it is vital that you watch what you say when speaking with them after a car accident.

It’s unfortunate that you must be so careful with your words when dealing with so much. However, knowing what NOT to say to an insurance company is important. It is suggested that you—

  • Do not admit fault
  • Do not minimize or explain your injuries
  • Do not use the words “I’m sorry” or “I’m fine,” even in a harmless context
  • Do not make a formal statement or let them record your conversation
  • Do not speculate about the accident
  • Do not give them blanket permission to explore your medical records
  • Do not accept their first offer

When in doubt, always refer the adjuster to your lawyer. A car accident attorney is essential to a successful car accident settlement. Let them negotiate with unscrupulous insurance adjusters while you focus on returning to your old self. It may take all your energy to heal. Rely on the help of a Strategic, Meticulous, & Merciless attorney to pursue just compensation for your injuries.

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