If you're making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit after a car accident, it's only natural to wonder what you can reasonably expect if your claim settles or makes it all the way to trial.
First, keep in mind that every car accident case is unique. There are as many varieties of injuries as there are parts of the human body. Fault for the accident might be crystal-clear in one case, and in the other it might be muddied by multiple vehicles and competing eyewitness accounts.
With that caveat, it can be helpful to examine some real-life examples of car accident injury claims, to see how much compensation was awarded after a settlement or verdict, and to understand the key issues that some of these cases hinge on.
Richard and his wife were the last of a line of cars stopped for a red light. The light turned green and the cars started to move but they quickly stopped again. The vehicle behind Richard's didn't stop and rammed his car while going about 20-25 mph. Richard's car was damaged on the rear, and it cost almost $6,000 to repair the damage.
Comments: Unless they are approaching the lawsuit filing deadline (known as the statute of limitations), no claim should be made until Richard and his wife fully recover from their injuries or reach "maximum medical improvement"
Jane reports that her daughter was injured in a car accident in Texas. She appeared to have a cervical sprain with muscle spasms and headaches, as well as a lumbar sprain. At some point, Jane's daughter, acting without a lawyer's advice, settled with State Farm for $15,000. Now, Jane is suffering from severe headaches and it has been determined that she has a brain injury. Jane's mother wants to know what she can do to get justice for her daughter.
Comments: Unfortunately, the release is probably binding on Jane's daughter. This outcome highlights the fact that you should not resolve your claim until you are sure that you know all of the consequences of your accident.
April was a right front seat passenger in a car that was rear-ended while waiting at a red light. The insurance company for the pick-up truck that hit her car, Erie Insurance, admitted responsibility. April hired a lawyer. Her case was settled for $9,400.
Comments: There were several factors that reduced the settlement value of April's claim. One problem is that she did not get regular treatment. If there are "gaps" in your treatment, expect the insurance company to offer you less
Darlene reports that a red light runner rammed into the rear of her car, totaling it. As a result of her accident, Darlene has limited mobility in her left arm and pain in her neck and low back. So far, medical treatment has cost $3,000. In addition, Darlene has had to quit a part-time job because of her arm problem. She says that has cost her $14,000. Darlene is representing herself and has sent a demand letter to State Farm asking for $37,000, the amount she would like to recover.
Comments: Darlene may be beginning negotiations with State Farm too soon.
Scheherezede was riding her bicycle on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The driver of a parked car opened his door and Scheherezede ran into it. She was thrown onto the road and another driver ran over her left arm. A jury decided that the driver who ran over Scheherezede's arm wasn't to blame, that the driver with the open door was 65 percent at fault and that Scheherezede was 35 percent at fault.
The award was $103,331. However, because of Scheherezede's comparative negligence, the award was reduced to $56,620.
These examples are helpful, but there's no substitute for sound legal advice based on the very specific set of circumstances that make up your potential car accident claim. Your first best option might be to sit down and discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer.