Settlements, though often preferred alternatives to trials by jury, carry questions of their own, not the least of which are, “How long will this settlement take?” and “How much can I expect to get?”
These questions pertain most especially to car accident settlements: Personal injury claims resulting from car accidents tend to settle 90% to 95% of the time, and the average payout for a physical injury claim related to an auto accident was about $20,000 in 2020.
Despite the statistics, every car accident settlement amount is unique. Today’s blog takes a closer look at several important factors that may determine the length and amount of car accident settlements.
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How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Usually Take?
Settlements of any kind are usually quicker than a trial: Lawsuits resulting from personal injury cases can take years, and the uncertainty can be prolonged if the opposing party appeals the verdict. Though the trial itself is not usually the lengthy part, the entire legal process tends to drag on.
For car accident settlements, the average length is about 10 months. Sometimes, collision victims may receive their settlement in as few as six.
Everything depends on the evidence presented, the state you’re in, and the car accident attorney you hire to help you.
Let’s discuss some of the most important factors determining a car accident settlement amount.
#1 – The Evidence Presented
Let’s start with the most obvious: One of the most important factors determining a car accident settlement is the strength of the evidence presented.
In a car accident case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof and must prove that the defendant’s negligence was at least 51% responsible for their injuries.
The stronger the evidence, the quicker the settlement.
#2 – The Designation of Fault
The evidence presented will be used to determine fault; in other words, the evidence will be used to determine who has the most responsibility for the accident.
If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant was at least 51% liable, the plaintiff may be awarded the maximum compensatory and/or punitive damages.
If the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for the accident, the contributory fault is established and depending on the state, the amount of compensation may drop significantly or be eliminated.
#3 – The Extent of the Injuries
Courts consider the extent of the injuries when determining settlement amounts. For instance, a plaintiff suing a defendant for breaking their legs in an accident may receive more compensation than a plaintiff suing a defendant for suffering whiplash.
If the plaintiff’s injuries are so severe that they warrant ongoing pain and suffering (like a permanent disability), compensation may be even greater.
#4 – The Extent of Out-of-Pocket Expenses
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a bad car accident, carefully document every out-of-pocket expense you incur. These may include medical bills, lost wages from missing work, and how much you spend traveling to and from the hospital, doctor’s rooms and other related care.
The defendant may reimburse you for these expenses, increasing potential settlement compensation. Therefore, it’s imperative that you keep accurate notes from the time that you’re injured throughout the time that your case is resolved. This information is something that you should always consistently disclose to our attorneys as it will play a factor in the overall settlement amount.
#5 – How Much the Opposing Party Is Willing to Settle
Since a settlement is essentially a mutual agreement between the defendant and the plaintiff, both parties must want to settle in the first place.
Some insurance companies are easier to work with than others, but if the insurance company that you’re demanding the settlement from floats you a lower number, you may choose to reject their offer and proceed to trial.
#6 – How Much You Incurred in Medical Expenses
Your expenses for medical expenses related to any injuries you suffered from the car accident also determine how much you’ll receive in your car accident settlement.
These costs include everything related to your medical treatment, such as insurance co-payments, travel costs for medical appointments and procedures, and how much your health insurance provider paid to your treatment specialists.
Insurance companies scrutinize medical expenses intensely and tend to discount or undervalue them. Enlisting the help of a personal injury attorney is highly recommended should you decide to pursue compensation for these expenses.
Recover the Maximum Amount of Compensation Possible With Help from HHJ Trial Attorneys
Recovering the highest possible amount of compensation for your San Diego car accident case starts with hiring the right help. Our attorneys understand each case is different and requires a more personalized attention to detail. When you work with our lawyers, you can rest assured that we will be there for you and with you every step of the way. Contact us for a free consultation today.