If you are injured or have your property damaged or destroyed it is natural to wonder what amount you are likely to receive as compensation and how this amount is determined.
Insurance companies generally consider separately property damage and bodily injury and will generally have different adjustors handle each.
Most insurance companies use a propriety computer program to assess a case and project a range of settlement offers. Insurance adjustors enter all of the numbers related to the accident and the program gives a high and low settlement offer. These programs are unable to evaluate scars, x-rays of broken bones, or understand the particular individual’s particular situation or the forces involved in the collision.
DAMAGE TO YOUR PROPERTY
When your automobile or other property is damaged by the negligence of another you have a claim for compensation. The law requires that the negligent part return you to the same situation as before the accident. They are required to compensate you for the cost of repairing your vehicle or if it is totaled to paying you the fair market value.
If you have insurance on your vehicle it is often times better and easier to deal with your insurance company and leave it to them to deal with the insurance company or the other driver. This is especially helpful when the negligent parties insurance company is dragging its feet on determining liability or accepting responsibility. You will be required to pay the deductible but you will be reimbursed by your insurance company when it is collected from the other driver’s insurance company.
If you are going to argue concerning the value of your automobile all communications should be in writing and it is useful if you can provide similar cars, which are selling for higher prices then what you were offered.
You can also make a claim for the sales tax that you will need to pay when purchasing a new car. This is limited to the taxes due on the value of your total car and not the sales tax due on the replacement.
In addition to the damage to your vehicle suffered you can also collect for other personal property destroyed in the accident. Claims can include eyeglasses, tools, computers, cell phones, and other personal property in your vehicle, which was damaged or destroyed. Operators of commercial vehicles can make of claim for the loss of use of their vehicle and the cost of renting a replacement.
In certain situations, you may be able to make a claim for the revenue that has been lost due to the loss of use of the vehicle.
INJURIES YOU HAVE SUFFERED
If you are injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence you have a claim for
1) medical bills and related expenses you have incurred
2) and future medical expenses you are likely to incur
3) Any wages you have lost since the accident
4) any wages you can reasonably expect to lose in the future
5) pain and suffering
MEDICAL EXPENSES INCURRED
A negligent party is responsible for all of your medical bills related to the accident. You do not submit just your copays but the entire billed amount. The law recognizes a collateral source rule which means that the negligent party does not get the benefit or advantage of your having good health insurance.
FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES
If you are permanently injured and will need future health care you would usually engage an expert witness to offer an opinion as to what your future expenses are likely to involve. These estimates are oftentimes reduced by an expert economist to what is called net present value.
You have the right to be reimbursed for any wages you have lost as a result of another party’s negligence. Even if you use sick leave or annual leave to deal with your injuries you have a claim to be repaid for using your leave.
FUTURE LOST WAGES
A vocational rehabilitation expert and a medical expert are usually employed to testify about how the other parties negligence has affected your ability to earn a living. An economist will usually reduce these amounts to net present value
PAIN AND SUFFERING
By far the hardest component to quantify in an accident case is pain and suffering but judges and juries do it every day. Insurance companies will l examine particular injury determine whether it is a soft -tissue injury or involved broken bones. They will evaluate the length of treatment and the type of treatment received. Scaring is an issue as well and will depend on the location, and the degree of scaring. The sex, age, and occupation of the individual will also be considered.
HOW MUCH WILL I NET FROM A SETTLEMENT?
This is the real question most clients want to know. Personal injury cases are all about money. There will be no apology from the other driver. The following will reduce any settlement: attorney’s fees, expenses incurred, and medical liens.
Attorney’s fees are straightforward to calculate and should be carefully spelled out in the retainer agreement, which was signed before the case started. We charge 33 1/3% of the amount collected if the case settles before suit is filed.
Expenses incurred in a simple case, which settles, will typically involve the cost associated with collecting the medical records, procuring accident reports and other documents and generally is several hundred dollars.
Expenses incurred in a case which goes to trial can run over a hundred thousand dollars. These expenses would include hiring doctors to evaluate the prior treatment and to testify. A vocational rehab expert and economist may be required. There may also be the need for an accident reconstructionist or related expert.
There are various ways that liens are created. For instance, MEDICARE has what is referred to as a super lien. If the lien is not paid the insurance, company, attorney and the injured individual are automatically responsible for repaying the lien plus interest and attorney’s fees. Most insurance companies require clearance from MEDICARE before releasing funds.
Your health insurance plan likely contains language requiring you to pay them back should you collect from a third party. The good news is that you are only responsible for what they actually pay and they make deeply discounted payments to health providers.
You may also sign documents with a health provider promising to pay them from the proceeds of your accident.
Serious traffic accident or other personal injuries can be a complex legal matter benefiting from the advice and assistance of a legal professional who regularly works and is trained in personal injuries. Most clients find that they recover more than enough to cover the additional cost of an attorney. Insurance companies regularly take advantage of unrepresented individual and many unrepresented individuals do not understand the rights and compensation they are foregoing.