Jason Stephens | December 4, 2020 | Car Accidents
Settling a car accident claim can be frustrating. You were injured because of the other driver’s negligence. Because of the accident, you incurred substantial financial losses, and you suffered because of your injuries.
You only want to receive the compensation you deserve for your car accident claim. However, the other driver’s insurance company is offering a car settlement amount that is much lower than you anticipated for your claim. Are there factors that could be causing your settlement amount to be lower than you expected?
Nine Factors That Could Impact Your Recovery for a Car Accident Claim
Many factors can impact the amount of money you could receive for a personal injury claim. Nine common factors are:
1. Your Actions and Statements After the Car Accident
Your actions following a car accident can have a significant impact on your injury claim. For example, if you tell the first responders that you are “fine” after the car accident and do not see a doctor for days or weeks after the crash, the insurance company is likely to argue that the accident did not cause your injuries.
If you tell the other driver you are sorry for the accident, the insurance company might allege that you were admitting fault. If you talk to the other driver’s insurance company or agree to give a formal statement, you could say something that the insurance company could use to undervalue or deny your injury claim.
Avoiding discuss the accident with anyone except a car accident lawyer is generally in your best interest. Seeking immediate medical care for your injuries is also a step you can take to protect your right to fair compensation for damages.
2. Are You Partially At-Fault?
If your actions contributed to the cause of the car accident, you could be held partially at-fault for the damages caused by the crash. Comparative fault laws state that your compensation is reduced by the percentage of responsibility you have for the cause of the accident.
Suppose you were speeding when a car ran a yellow light and turned in front of you. A jury could find that you contributed to the cause of the crash because you were speeding. If so, you do not receive the full value of your personal injury claim.
As long as your fault is below 51 percent, you can still recover some money for your car accident claim. If your fault is 51 percent or higher, you cannot recover any money for your injuries or damages.
3. The Availability of Car Insurance Coverage
The type and amount of car insurance coverage also impact your settlement amount. Texas drivers must have at least $30,000 of coverage for bodily injury ($60,000 per accident). If the other driver is entirely at fault for the crash and has minimum car insurance coverage, the most you could receive from the insurance company is $30,000.
You could file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, but if the driver does not have the assets to pay the claim, you could have a worthless judgment.
If you have underinsured motorist coverage, that might be a better option. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage compensates you for damages when an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to pay your claim. UIM coverage is an optional insurance policy that you can purchase with your liability car insurance policy.
4. The Injuries You Sustained in the Car Crash
The severity and type of injuries impact your car accident settlement. Because the damages associated with catastrophic injuries are more significant, the value of the claim increases. For example, the settlement amount for a case involving an amputation or spinal cord injury may be higher than a case involving a minor case of whiplash.
The cost of treatment, loss of income, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life are more significant with a permanent disability than with an injury that heals entirely in a few months.
5. Whether You Might Receive Future Damages
The types of damages available in personal injury cases can include future damages. Future damages are paid when a person sustains a permanent disability or impairment. The person may require ongoing medical treatment and long-term personal care.
Calculating future damages can be challenging. Numerous factors can impact the value of the damages, such as the person’s age, education, career, experience, life expectancy, cost of care, and income loss. Financial and medical experts may assist in estimating future damages.
6. The Total of Financial Damages
Generally, any reasonable and necessary expense related to the accident and your injury can be included in financial damages.
Examples of financial damages include:
- Loss of income
- Medical bills
- Travel expenses to doctor’s appointments
- Personal care costs
- Help with household chores
- Medications and medical supplies
- Physical, occupational, and other therapies
Careful documentation of financial damages is required to ensure that all amounts can be included in the claim.
The amount of future damages can also impact the value of non-economic or pain & suffering damages. A common method of calculating pain and suffering damages is to multiply the total financial damages by a multiplier. The multiplier is based on the extent of the person’s injuries and other factors.
Therefore, the higher the financial damages, the higher the value of your pain and suffering damages.
7. The Texas Statute of Limitations
Most cases involving personal injuries in Texas have a two-year deadline from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, some exceptions to the statute of limitations can shorten the time to file a claim. For instance, a claim involving a government entity requires that you file a notice of claim within just a few months to protect your right to file a lawsuit.
Waiting too long to contact a Dallas personal injury lawyer to discuss your car accident claim could result in losing your right to recover any money for your injuries and damages.
8. The Insurance Company Providing Coverage
Some insurance companies deny and undervalue car accident claims based on weak excuses. They make the claims process difficult and may engage in bad faith insurance practices to avoid paying a car accident claim. Working with one of these companies could result in a lower settlement offer.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer may be the best way to protect yourself when dealing with an aggressive insurance company. The insurance company may take the claim more seriously if it knows that you have an attorney who is willing to take the matter to court to protect your best interests.
9. Your Level of Patience
Settling a car accident claim can take time. You do not want to settle your claim until you complete your medical treatment. It is impossible to know how much your personal injury case is worth until you know the extent of all your damages.
An insurance company might offer you a quick settlement. In most cases, the quick settlement offer is much lower than your case is worth. The company might want to settle the claim before you realize the actual value of your car accident claim.
You might need to wait a few more months until you recover from your injuries or spend time negotiating an offer to receive a fair car accident settlement.