A car accident can throw your life into chaos. In spite of the physical pain and changes in lifestyle that many victims have to endure, financial concerns are often at the top of the list of life-altering effects after a car accident.
Many clients ask us about the “average” amount they can expect from a car accident settlement. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is far more complicated than it seems.
Our car accident lawyers can advise you how much your claim is worth and pursue compensation on your behalf. Please call (713) 999-6666 today for a free case review with our attorneys in Houston, Texas.
We could quote statistics from the insurance industry or research in the legal field that suggests the mean dollar value of car accident settlements. We could even share the average settlement amounts for clients of Patrick Daniel Law. However, neither of these numbers would truly answer your question.
The average settlement for a car accident does not reflect what your case may actually be worth. The facts of your case, the injuries you have sustained, and the damages from those injuries are all unique. Although it is understandable to be curious about what others in similar situations have recovered for their losses, it is important not to let your expectations be influenced by general trends.
Instead, let’s examine how insurance companies arrive at settlement offers and how experienced attorneys handle settlement negotiations on behalf of their clients.
First, it is important to distinguish between the initial offer from the insurance company to settle your claim and a settlement negotiated by your attorney. If the insurance company offers to settle your car accident claim (and that may be a big IF), the adjuster probably arrived at the amount by multiplying your economic damages by a value indicative of the severity of your losses.
As many victims of car accidents can attest, the insurance settlement is not an accurate reflection of your particular losses. Rather, it is an estimate derived from a formula used by the adjuster.
If you hire a lawyer to represent you in a car accident claim, he or she may advise you that a settlement offer is “on the table.” This settlement amount is based on negotiations between your lawyer and the insurance company. With an attorney representing your interests, a negotiated settlement is more representative of your actual losses from the accident, and it should be higher than what the insurance company may have initially offered.
Most car accident claims are settled before they go to court. Generally, settlement offers are lower than what you might be able to win if your case goes to trial.
However, it is important to recognize that if you take your car accident lawsuit to trial, there is no guarantee of winning. The decision is up to the jury or judge that hears your case, and they may not find in your favor.
While you may be inclined to pursue more compensation by going to court, your lawyer will explain that doing so is a gamble. As such, settling your claim may represent a tradeoff: Yes, you may be able to recover more money through a trial verdict, but you also run the risk of recovering less or nothing at all.
Consistent communication with your lawyer and legal team is crucial for recovering a fair settlement. Share with your legal team all of the bills you receive, how your injuries affect your day-to-day life, and other information so your lawyer can represent your best interests in settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the unique circumstances you face after the accident. Some of the factors that can affect both the insurance company’s offer and the compensation your lawyer may be able to recover via settlement negotiations include:
The injuries you suffer in a car accident can vary considerably in how severe they are. Accidents involving serious or catastrophic injury typically resolve for more.
Damages are the financial and non-financial costs you incur as a result of the accident. Medical bills are obviously higher in cases of serious injury, but these expenses might make up only a fraction of your total losses.
It is important to account for all of your damages as part of the settlement. These may include:
Some of these costs are fairly easy to calculate, such as any expense on a bill or receipt. Other damages, however, will require expert testimony to calculate accurately.
All states have some form of minimum car insurance requirements. Here in Texas, the minimum amount of coverage drivers are required to carry is as follows:
Some drivers purchase more coverage, which limits their financial risk if they cause an accident. However, other drivers only purchase the bare minimum insurance – or, even worse, drive with no insurance at all.
Your settlement amount will be affected by the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. The insurer will try to negotiate a settlement well within the policy limits. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, your ability to recover may be limited because you will have to sue the liable party directly.
Whether you make a third-party claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit, you will need to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident and the injuries you sustained. If you can present compelling evidence of the other driver’s liability, the insurance company will be more likely to offer a fair settlement.
Insurance companies always want to avoid going to court. Car accident litigation is expensive and time-consuming, and they know that a loss at trial may be far more expensive than a settlement.
These companies also know, however, that they can pay even less (or nothing at all) if they can prove that you were at fault for the accident. Although Texas law still allows you to recover damages provided your responsibility for the accident was less than half, questions of comparative fault may reduce what the other driver’s insurer is willing to offer (or if a settlement offer is forthcoming).
Some lawyers and law firms try to settle the majority of car accident claims. Litigation takes time and there is no guarantee of success, so they like to hedge their bets. A win is a win, as they say, but it is worth being wary of attorneys who advertise how quickly they settle car accident claims.
Although your claim will likely be settled, you need a lawyer who is willing and able to go to court for you if that is what it takes to achieve a fair recovery in your case. At Patrick Daniel Law, we take a different approach to personal injury and accident law. We know the tactics employed by insurance companies and other defendants with deep pockets, and our team has an established track record of winning cases well in excess of pre-trial offers.
We are committed to winning fair compensation in your case, whether that is through settlement negotiations or going to court on your behalf. At Patrick Daniel Law, we are Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless when you need help the most.
Please call (713) 999-6666 today for a free consultation. Our lawyers serve clients in car accident claims throughout the Houston area, all of Texas, and nationwide.