How is a Car Accident Settlement Determined?

a crash that requires a car accident lawyer | The Law Offices of Mickey Fine

Many factors come into play in a car accident settlement. The severity of injuries and their impact on your quality of life, property damage, and the cause of the accident can affect the settlement amount. Now, if the insurance provider had their way, the determined settlement would be the first one they offer you. However, it’s critical you don’t accept the initial offer, especially if you don’t know the extent of your injuries yet and how they may affect the rest of your life and ability to provide for your family. 

Insurance adjusters often use a multiplier method to ballpark the estimated value of your claim, but your individual case may be worth more than their equation estimates, and you need an attorney to help. Don’t settle your car accident claim until you know its worth. 

Bakersfield car accident lawyer Mickey Fine has decades of experience helping injured victims. Our distinguished firm has achieved substantial settlements for our clients both in and out of the courtroom. 

Potential Damages in a Car Accident Case 

Finding the value of your car accident claim relies on understanding the potential damages you’re eligible for after the crash, including: 

Economic Damages 

These are measurable losses from the crash, such as medical expenses. Economic damages include ongoing and estimated future medical treatment to ensure your hospital bills and specialist visits are covered. Property damage from the accident, including broken devices or personal property in the vehicle, fall under this category. The cost of traveling to and from your appointments with your doctor, physical therapy, and other needs to address and heal from your injuries are included. 

Non-Economic Damages 

These losses are more challenging to determine an exact number. Physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and lowered quality of life can’t be measured in dollar amounts. Still, they are significant losses that should be accounted for in your settlement. If you lost a loved one in a car crash, non-economic damages could include loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance, and loss of consortium. 

Punitive Damages 

These are awarded when the actions of the at-fault driver or other party are so egregious and unethical that an additional fine is needed to punish them for their wrongdoing and deter them from doing it again. Some drunk driving accidents may award punitive damages, which are paid to the plaintiff. 

Factors that Affect the Settlement Amount 

Some states, including California, have damage caps. These are statutory maximums applied to some cases that limit the monies awarded in a settlement. There are no limitations on compensatory or economic damages in personal injury lawsuits apart from medical malpractice claims that have a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. Additionally, a driver found guilty of driving under the influence can’t receive non-economic damages, and the insurance company does not have to defend them in court. 

The owner of an uninsured vehicle in a car accident can’t recover non-economic damages unless the crash resulted from a drunk driver. An uninsured driver is also ineligible for non-economic damages. Injured victims can always recover the total economic damages or actual monetary losses, but contingencies may limit your non-economic damages. 

Types and Severity of Injuries 

The extent of your injuries plays a crucial role in your settlement amount. Someone who has a broken leg and requires months of physical therapy and accommodations while recovering will likely receive a higher settlement than someone with whiplash but less than someone with a permanent disability.

Severe car accident injuries depend on whether you wore a seatbelt, where you were sitting or facing in the vehicle, which side of the car was hit, and whether the impact was low or high-speed. Injuries from car accidents range from scrapes and cuts and soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, to life-changing disabilities. Even low-impact crashes can cause significant back injuries due to the force against the spine. Traumatic brain injuries, chest injuries, arm or leg fractures or amputation, paralysis, and burns may occur. 

Naturally, the more severe the injury, the higher the settlement. 

Liability in California

Your settlement amount also comes down to how much you are deemed at fault for the crash. California is one of few states with a comparative negligence statute, which reduces your settlement by the percentage you are at fault. If you were hit by someone speeding through a red light, but you were distracted, and on your phone, you may have a reduced settlement. 

Available Insurance Coverage 

California drivers are required to carry a minimum of $15,000 for the death or injury of any person and $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in a single accident. The injured people share the money. This minimum includes $5,000 for property damage, but drivers may carry extended accident coverage beyond these requirements. The injured victim can sue the at-fault driver for additional costs. 

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help? 

Our Bakersfield car accident lawyer works diligently on your behalf so you can focus solely on recovering from the accident. Our experienced legal team knows how to pursue these claims; gathering evidence, reenacting accidents, consulting with experts, and building your case to ensure the highest settlement possible. 

Call a Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer for Free

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t let the insurance company low-ball your settlement. Contact the Law Offices of Mickey Fine in Bakersfield, California, today for a FREE consultation at (661) 333-3333.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on