You were involved in a car accident, reported the accident, and sought medical treatment. As bills are piling in, you are wondering about how much you should settle for. How much you settle your car accident claim for primarily depends on the damages you have sustained because of the accident and the relevant factors involved in your claim.
Potential Damages in Car Accident Claims
“Damages” represent the economic and non-economic losses that you suffer because of a car accident. Potential damages that may be involved in your claim include:
You may have suffered a physical or mental injury because of the car accident. You may be able to recover compensation for these injuries. According to Illinois Model Jury Instructions, juries can consider the following when determining damages stemming from your injuries:
- The nature, extent, and duration of your injury
- The aggravation of a pre-existing condition
- The increased risk of future harm caused by the injury
- Shortened life expectancy
- The reasonable expenses for necessary medical care, treatment, and services received, both in the past and future
- Caretaking expenses
You can also seek compensation for the property damage you sustained, which may include the reasonable expense to repair your vehicle and the difference between your vehicle’s fair market value before the accident and after it is repaired.
According to the Illinois Department of Insurance, if your vehicle has old, unrepaired damage, the insurance company is allowed to make deductions. It can also make deductions for missing parts, wear and tear to your vehicle, and rust—however, the deduction cannot be more than $500 and must be itemized.
If your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company must provide a replacement that is a make and model comparable to the totaled vehicle. The replacement vehicle must be in as good or better condition than your previous vehicle.
Disability or Loss of a Normal Life
The Illinois Model Jury Instructions also state that personal injury victims can be compensated for their disability or the loss of a normal life, including their “inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” This also includes the loss of expected future normality.
You may also be able to receive compensation for your lost earnings. This may include your lost:
Pain and Suffering
You may also be able to recover compensation for your past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Other Factors that Can Affect the Value of Your Claim
Besides the damages that are directly tied to your claim, several other factors may potentially affect the value of your financial award, including:
- Whether liability is in question
- Your credibility
- Your claims history
- The insurance company involved and the claims adjuster assigned to your case
- How many drivers or other parties are involved
- Whether you were partially at fault for the accident
- The other driver’s degree of liability
- The amount and type of insurance in place
- Whether the insurance company believes you will take your claim to court if you are not satisfied with their offer
- Whether you are represented by legal counsel
- Your perceived need for the settlement money
The insurance company is unlikely to settle your claim for more than the policy limits. However, if more than one party is involved, you may be able to settle your claim for up to the maximum value of each insurance policy in place. The insurance company could also deny your claim completely and offer you no compensation. Many accident claims settle for an amount under the maximum policy amount.
If your claim is against your own insurance company, you may be bound by an arbitration clause in your contract. This might require you to resolve your claim through the alternative dispute resolution method of arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit in court. In this forum, a neutral arbitrator or panel of arbitrators make a binding decision regarding the amount of your award.
Contact the Kryder Law Group, LLC for More Help
Now that you know that the answer to the question of how much you should settle for after a car accident is so complex, you may be wondering what you should do. A personal injury lawyer from The Kryder Law Group, LLC can review the circumstances surrounding your claim and provide an estimate on its potential value.
You can get the process started by contacting us at (312) 223-1700 for your free and confidential consultation. We will explain your legal rights and options and how we can help you with your claim.