How Much Should You Ask for in a Car Accident Settlement?

How Much Should You Ask for in a Car Accident Settlement

If you suffered injuries in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you need monetary compensation that fully compensates you for your medical expenses, lost income, and intangible losses, including your physical pain and suffering.

The amount of money your lawyer should demand as part of a car accident settlement will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries, the total cost of your medical treatment, and the amount of insurance coverage available to satisfy your claim or lawsuit.

Insurance companies will not assist you in any way during the complicated car accident claim process. In fact, they are your direct adversary. Therefore, retain a skilled Bakersfield car accident attorney to represent you throughout the settlement negotiation and litigation stages of your case.

Your attorney can help you gather the necessary documents and make a written settlement demand to the insurance company on your behalf. Your lawyer can also handle all written and oral communications with insurance company adjusters and help you negotiate a fair offer that fully compensates you for your accident-related losses.

If the insurer refuses to accept a favorable offer, your attorney can file a lawsuit in court and litigate your case to an efficient resolution, such as at a civil jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding.

Types of Car Accidents that Lead to Physical Injuries

Many car accidents result from the careless and reckless behavior of other drivers. Unfortunately, these accidents can lead to severe and debilitating injuries that require an accident victim to undergo medical procedures, endure physical therapy, and miss time from work, placing a financial strain on themselves and their families.

Some of the most common types of car accidents that result from driver negligence include:

  • Sideswipe accidents, where a negligent driver causes their vehicle to shift into another travel lane, bringing about a collision with another vehicle
  • Rear-end accidents, or tailgate collisions, where another driver follows a vehicle too closely and brings about a severe crash – especially when traffic backs up quickly and the at-fault driver is speeding excessively
  • Head-on collisions, where a negligent driver causes their vehicle to hit the front of an oncoming car, sometimes leading to permanent injuries and fatalities
  • Broadside or T-bone accidents, where one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle, usually on an intersecting roadway

If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents that another driver caused, your attorney can help you obtain the necessary documents and draft a settlement demand letter on your behalf.

Your attorney can then submit this demand package to the insurance company and pursue a favorable settlement offer from the adjuster handling your claim.

If the insurance company will not take your case seriously or offer you the fair monetary damages you deserve, your lawyer can explore your litigation options and, if necessary, take your case to court.

Driver Negligence that Frequently Causes Car Accidents

Many local car accidents result from the negligent behavior of other drivers. When a driver fails to observe the road, speeds up, or engages in some other type of reckless behavior, a car crash may occur, leading to severe injuries.

First, some car accidents, unfortunately, result from intoxicated driving. When people drive their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they are significantly more likely to cause a severe crash leading to property damage and debilitating injuries.

Most drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.

Drunk drivers frequently experience delayed reaction time, limited reflexes, impaired vision, and other physical and mental consequences. As a result, they are less likely to drive carefully under the circumstances. Their diminished vision might also prevent them from seeing another vehicle or pedestrian, bringing about a severe and sometimes fatal crash.

Another common cause of motor vehicle crashes in the area is distracted driving. Distracted drivers ignore the road and their surroundings, which is highly dangerous. Especially since the rise of cell phones, distracted driving results in so many collisions that it has become a major public health crisis in the United States.

Despite most states strictly outlawing many electronic-related distractions, drivers continue to skirt the law and text, talk on a handset, and engage in other activities that can easily lead to crashes. Even hands-free systems are distracting enough to cause accidents.

In addition to intoxicated and distracted driving, some motor vehicle crashes result from common traffic law violations.

Some of the most common traffic law violations that lead to serious car crashes include:

  • Tailgating other vehicles
  • Failing to use mirrors and backup cameras at the proper times
  • Failing to use lane-change warning devices when switching lanes on a multi-lane highway
  • Failing to use turn signals when appropriate
  • Excessive speeding
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles at traffic intersections and highway merge lanes when it’s appropriate to do so

Finally, some traffic accidents happen when drivers exhibit reckless driving maneuvers, such as from road rage. Road rage occurs when a driver reacts irresponsibly and unreasonably to various circumstances that arise while on the road. One circumstance that often enrages other drivers is slow-moving vehicles.

To get around a slow-moving car, an angry driver might:

  • Honk their horn or flash lights unnecessarily
  • Cut the other vehicle off in traffic
  • Speed excessively
  • Tailgate the other vehicle
  • Exhibit other reckless driving maneuvers
  • Make obscene or threatening gestures

No matter how impatient a driver is with slower traffic or other conditions, there is no excuse for dangerous conduct that puts others in harm’s way.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident due to driver error or negligence, consult a car crash attorney as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can prepare and submit a settlement demand to the appropriate insurance company and begin negotiating the fair and reasonable settlement compensation you deserve for all your accident-related losses.

Factors that May Affect the Amount of Your Initial Settlement Demand

Ideally, an insurance company settlement offer should compensate an accident victim for their losses. After all, the primary goal of settling a car accident claim is for the accident victim to become whole again, to the greatest extent possible.

In short, a favorable car accident settlement should compensate an accident victim for their related medical costs, anticipated medical expenses, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering.

The specific amount of money an accident victim should demand as part of a car accident settlement will vary from case to case, depending on:

  • The nature and extent of your injuries
  • The total cost of your medical treatment, including the cost of physical therapy, medical procedures, consultations, and doctor visits
  • Whether you had to miss time from work to attend medical appointments and/or to recover fully from your accident-related injuries
  • Whether you had to switch jobs or careers due to your injuries – and take a pay cut
  • The extent of your pain and suffering, including whether or not you are likely to experience pain and other symptoms going forward
  • Whether or not a medical provider has determined that you suffered a permanent injury or impairment in your accident
  • Whether you will need lifetime care costs because of your accident-related injuries
  • The specific insurance company and adjuster with whom you’re dealing (since some are unfortunately more difficult to work with than others)
  • The specific venue where your personal injury case is pending
  • The amount of insurance coverage that is available to compensate you in your case

A knowledgeable car accident attorney in your area can help you assemble a settlement demand package and demand letter for the total monetary compensation you deserve.

Your attorney can then assist you throughout the settlement negotiation process with insurance company representatives and pursue the highest possible economic damage award on your behalf.

Potential Monetary Damages in Car Crash Cases

To recover monetary compensation for your car accident injuries and losses, you must first establish the required burden of proof in your case. In any car accident claim or lawsuit, the accident victim, rather than the at-fault driver, has the legal burden of proof.

First, the accident victim must establish that the other driver violated their legal duty of care – usually by committing one or more traffic law violations. For example, the other driver might’ve been speeding, drinking and driving, or driving while distracted.

Next, the car crash victim must demonstrate that their crash directly resulted from the other party’s negligence. An accident reconstructionist can investigate the accident circumstances and establish this causal relationship.

Lastly, a car accident victim must demonstrate that they suffered at least one physical injury due to their car accident. A medical expert, such as a treating healthcare provider, can establish this medical connection. In addition, a medical expert can prove, based upon a reasonable degree of medical probability, that one or more of your injuries are permanent.

A skilled car accident attorney can help you satisfy your legal burden of proof to maximize the monetary damages you receive in your case.

Ideally, those monetary damages should include compensation for all of your accident-related:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental distress
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of use of a body part
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement

Insurance companies will not always recognize all your losses, or adjusters might grossly underestimate the value of your losses. This is particularly true with non-economic damages or estimated future expenses, including medical costs and future lost income. You need the right car accident attorney calculating the value of your losses.

Why Does the Insurance Company Keep Fighting Me?

Many insurance companies will fight accident victims every step of the way because the insurance company has nothing to gain by paying significant monetary compensation to seriously injured car accident victims. In fact, the insurance company will lose a substantial amount of money if they have to pay out a considerable settlement offer or jury verdict to an injured car accident victim.

Therefore, many insurance company adjusters will look for deficiencies in the medical records and other shortcomings to try and undervalue an accident victim’s claim or lawsuit.

For example, the insurance company might contend that one or more of the accident victim’s claimed injuries are pre-existing – or that they are otherwise unrelated to the car crash. They may even blame the car accident victim, alleging that they somehow caused or contributed to their own accident.

Settlement negotiations in a car accident case can take a significant amount of time and may last for many weeks or even months.

An experienced car accident attorney in your area can aggressively negotiate on your behalf by highlighting the strengths of your medical records and downplaying any weaknesses.

Your lawyer can also retain experienced experts to provide the necessary evidence for your case. If the insurance company refuses to increase its settlement offer, your lawyer can threaten them with litigation in the court system.

Talk With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

Mickey Fine - Car Accident Attorney near Bakersfield, CA area

Mickey Fine, Car Accident Attorney

Retaining experienced legal counsel to represent you in your car accident case is one of the most important steps you can take. Your attorney can promptly investigate your accident circumstances, file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf, and help you obtain favorable settlement compensation.

If the insurance company does not make you a reasonable settlement offer, your attorney can litigate your case at a civil jury trial in court or pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) on your behalf.

Whatever you decide, your lawyer will aggressively fight for your legal rights every step of the way and help you achieve the best possible result in your case. Your lawyer can do all this for you while you focus on the most important thing, recovering from your injuries.

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