When you get injured in a car accident in Bakersfield, obtaining a settlement is an important step toward moving on with your life. But, this assumes that you are able to obtain a reasonable settlement. If you accept a settlement that is too low, you won’t have the money you need to cover your losses, and you could end up struggling financially for years to come.
So, what is a reasonable settlement for a car accident in Bakersfield? There really isn’t one right answer. If you look around online, you might see reference to “average” settlement amounts in the range of $20,000 to $40,000. But, there are a couple of problems with these figures.
First, their accuracy is questionable at best. It’s not clear where the data comes from, but they do not provide a representative sample of car accident settlements in Bakersfield. Second, the amount that other accident victims have been able to recover is irrelevant to your claim for compensation. What constitutes a reasonable settlement in your case is entirely dependent upon the specific circumstances involved.
The legal process for car accident claims can be complicated. It requires the knowledge, skill, and resources of an experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyer. The seasoned attorneys at the Law Offices of Mickey Fine understand the complexities of these cases and have the experience necessary to help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Factors that Will Determine Your Settlement Amount
Calculating a reasonable settlement amount for a car accident requires careful consideration of several different factors. Some of the most important factors include:
1. Who was At Fault in the Accident?
One of the most important factors for determining a reasonable settlement amount is who was at fault in the accident. In order to obtain a settlement, you must be able to prove that someone else (i.e. the other driver) was at fault in your collision. If you were at fault, then you are not entitled to a settlement (though you may be able to file a claim under the “no-fault” portion of your insurance policy).
If you were partially at fault in your car accident, you may still be able to obtain a settlement. But, the amount of your settlement will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For example, you were 50% at fault and your losses total $100,000, a reasonable settlement would be $50,000.
2. How Much are Your Financial and Non-Financial Losses?
Another crucial factor when negotiating a settlement is the amount you have lost (and will lose) as a result of the collision. In the vast majority of cases, car accident settlements are intended to provide compensation only. As a result, a reasonable settlement will reflect the amount of your financial and non-financial losses. While punitive damages are available in some cases, settlements that include amounts for punitive damages are relatively rare.
Victims’ losses from car accidents can range anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. The severity of your injuries, your age and income, your family circumstances, and various other factors will all be taken into account in determining what constitutes “just compensation” for your collision.
3. What Auto Insurance Coverage is Available?
In many cases, the amount that car accident victims can recover is limited by the amount of auto insurance coverage that is available. This is why you may have heard the term “policy limit settlement.” Even if your losses are $20,000, if the at-fault driver only has $15,000 in liability insurance coverage (the minimum amount required under California law), then you may be limited to obtaining a settlement of $15,000.
This risk is why many people in Bakersfield choose to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. If you have UIM coverage, you suffer substantial losses in a car accident, and the other driver’s liability insurance isn’t enough, you can file a UIM claim to increase the amount of your settlement.
4. What are Your Options for Seeking Damages Outside of Auto Insurance?
In some cases, car accident victims can seek damages outside of auto insurance. If a vehicle manufacturer, dealership, or other “third party” is liable for your collision, substantially more insurance coverage may be available to you. This means that your settlement is more likely to cover the full amount of your accident-related losses—and you will need to work with an experienced car accident attorney in Bakersfield to make sure you seek the maximum compensation available.
5. How Much are You Willing to Accept?
Finally, when it comes to determining what constitutes a reasonable settlement for your car accident, you also need to consider how much you are willing to accept. In most cases, it isn’t possible to calculate an exact settlement amount. Instead, your car accident attorney will calculate a reasonable settlement range. If you receive a settlement offer at the bottom of the range, will you be satisfied? Or, will you want to keep fighting for more?
Talk to a Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Have you been injured in a car accident in Bakersfield? Do you have questions about obtaining a reasonable settlement? To discuss your case with an experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyer for free, call (661) 333-3333 now.