How Much Can You Ask For in a Car Accident Settlement?

February 29, 2024 | Jarrett Blakeley
How Much Can You Ask For in a Car Accident Settlement?

If you have suffered injuries in a car accident due to another driver, you may be eligible to file an injury claim and seek financial compensation. While money cannot take away your injuries and struggles, it can provide relief and financial support as you move forward. A car accident settlement is how you initially seek justice for the harm the other driver caused you.

The amount you can request depends on the specific details of your accident, the severity of your injuries, and your ability to prove the extent of damages incurred. Car accident settlements can vary widely, but no matter how much or little you deserve, the law is clear: the negligent driver should be responsible for your losses.

Every car accident claim relies on the strength of the evidence supporting the losses and the need for compensation. Having a skilled car accident attorney build your case and calculate the value of your claim is the best move.

The good news is that a car accident attorney will evaluate your case at no cost. You do not have to hire the attorney if you decide not to pursue a case or choose another law firm. However, this free consultation will give you an idea of how much you might ask for in a settlement from an insurance company.

Reach Out Today!

Key Factors That Influence Settlement Values

Inspector documenting details on clipboard near damaged car while drivers exchange insurance information.

When determining the value of your car accident, you must delve into the factors surrounding the case - how you’ve suffered, your insurance coverage, and the legislation in your state.

Type of Injuries Sustained

The most significant factor determining potential car accident settlement ranges relates to the severity and duration of your injuries. Minor soft tissue injuries like bruises, soreness, whiplash, or sprains/strains have a lower value. Naturally, catastrophic injuries involving surgery, permanent disabilities, or lifetime medical treatment require more money.

Car accident attorneys use your specific diagnosed injuries to estimate typical claim ranges. When filing your claim, be prepared to provide diagnostic evidence through clinical records, imaging reports, and physician statements.

At-Fault vs. No-Fault States 

Whether your state follows traditional tort liability rules or uses a no-fault insurance system also impacts potential settlement values. In at-fault states, your attorney must prove the other driver’s negligence, and then you can claim economic plus non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

No-fault states limit claims to economic losses alone unless injuries reach permanency/severity thresholds. You need a lawyer to identify whether you meet this threshold so you can pursue additional compensation. Knowing your state's laws provides realistic expectations when evaluating settlement offers.

Available Insurance Coverage  

The maximum payout you can receive gets capped by the at-fault driver’s liability limits. Therefore, it becomes vital to determine all available coverages early when evaluating claim worth, including:

  • At-fault driver’s liability coverage 
  • Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage under your own policy  
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and MedPay benefits  
  • Health/disability insurance
  • Additional liability coverage, such as umbrella insurance

While higher insurance limits allow larger accident settlements, even larger policies can leave victims of catastrophic injuries with considerable uncovered losses. A car accident attorney can identify any additional avenues for compensation if insurance policies fall short.

Strength of Evidence 

Police reports, medical records, disability statements, therapy notes, medication costs, missed income documentation, and other proof can strengthen your claim.

Photographing vehicle damage before repairs and visible injuries after your diagnosis also preserves valuable evidence. The more thorough your documentation, the higher the justification for requesting maximum policy payouts.

Case Expenses 

Seeking an attorney's guidance often maximizes settlement values to account for accumulated legal expenses. Car accident attorneys typically accept cases on a contingency fee basis, taking their fees from their final settlements.

Their experience in building claims, proving negligence, demonstrating damages, and negotiating claims maximizes claim worth beyond what unrepresented individuals may secure. Also, tracking all accident-related expenses, from medical bills to property damage documentation, increases potential recoveries.

Likely Court Outcomes

Should you refuse an unfair settlement offer and your claim proceeds to trial, the court judgment may likely involve amounts an insurer will want to avoid. Unpredictable jury verdicts and added litigation fees spur insurance companies to often settle out of court.

Reasonable settlements serve both parties by saving time, uncertainty, and resources. By understanding typical court awards and case time frames in your area, you can gauge appropriate settlement ranges without needing to file a lawsuit.

Asking for Fair Accident Settlements  

The first demand letter to the insurance adjuster proposes an initial settlement value based on the known injuries, expenses, and projected future medical costs.

As medical treatment continues and further documentation gets collected, you can make additional demands - supporting increased compensation if warranted. How much you ask for remains negotiable until you sign an agreement or a court judgment decides the claim outcome.

Precise settlement amounts are unpredictable until the case resolves, and remember that using online accident calculators provides only vague, ballpark figures for possible damages. There is no substitute for having a car accident lawyer determine what will be a fair settlement for your situation.

With thorough documentation, patient negotiations, and legal guidance, you can seek the maximum compensation deserved in your car accident injury claim. Your attorney can track expenses, gather proof, and research precedents guiding appropriate settlement ranges specific to your situation.

When filing an injury claim after a car accident, you and your lawyer must fully document and quantify all economic and non-economic costs incurred. Breaking down accident-related expenses into specific categories when tracking losses not only supports a fairer settlement but also ensures you won’t overlook any warranted compensation.

Economic Losses 

Economic damages in car injury claims aim to financially reimburse tangible, quantifiable losses victims suffer by returning them to their pre-accident state. Major economic cost categories include:

  • Vehicle Repairs - These expenses include estimates or receipt costs fixing collision damage, whether paid out of pocket or by the insurer. Include rental car fees and transportation costs during repairs.  
  • Medical Treatment Expenses - Itemize all hospital, physician, therapy, chiropractic, and psychological treatment costs, including paid and outstanding bills. Also track prescription, medical equipment, and accessibility renovation costs.  
  • Lost Income & Benefits - Document accident-related time off work using pay stubs, employer statements, or disability/SSI paperwork. Include health insurance and retirement benefits that can support your claim.
  • Cost of Future Care - For permanent injury cases, experts can project lifetime costs of future treatment, assistance needs, medications, and accessibility upgrades that warrant higher settlements.
  • Other Quantifiable Economic Damages - These costs form the basis for seeking compensatory damages deserving reimbursement. Thoroughly tracking every penny lost or spent due to your injuries proves essential.

Non-Economic Losses

Non-economic losses cover subjective yet still legally compensable accident impacts like: 

  • Pain and Suffering - Both physical and mental pain from injuries justify monetary compensation even though no bills or invoices exist to quantify suffering levels. You can even track symptoms and effects of your injuries using daily journals.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life - Detail limitations to participation in meaningful activities that previously brought pleasure and quality living. 
  • Loss of Consortium - Spouses can claim emotional companionship losses from injuries that disabled partners.
  • Emotional Distress - Mental health therapy assists in quantifying psychological trauma related to collisions.
  • Disfigurement Damages - Visible scarring warrants financial awards for any societal stigma suffered.  

While caps limit non-economic claims in some states, thoroughly conveying any life disruption remains imperative in supporting appropriate compensation.

Strategies for Maximizing Accident Cost Recovery

To guarantee recouping all economic and intangible accident-related costs possible, car crash victims should:

  • Save All Receipts - Maintain meticulous files documenting every penny lost or spent addressing collision-induced damages
  • Follow All Physician Protocols - Adhere to recommended treatment plans establishing injuries as legitimate 
  • Take Photographs Over Time - Demonstrate cut/scar healing documenting aesthetic disfigurement for non-economic claims 
  • Openly Communicate About Struggles - Journal pain levels, emotional states, activity limitations
  • Consult Legal Counsel - Injury attorneys assist with organizing expenses and supporting demand amounts

Fair compensation becomes more attainable by understanding what accident costs victims qualify for and thoroughly documenting losses using the framework above.

Ensuring Your Rights for an Increased Settlement

After being injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you may wonder whether to hire an accident attorney to help recover damages or handle the insurance claim yourself.

While every situation differs, statistics clearly show that car accident victims represented by lawyers, on average, receive notably higher financial compensation.

Understanding why legal guidance nets significantly higher settlements empowers car crash victims to maximize potential recoveries after suffering losses that have altered their lives through no fault of their own.

Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney benefits car accident victims in multiple, often unseen ways, including:

Professional lawyer concentrating on work in a law office setting.
  • Analyzing Case Merits: Lawyers determine legal entitlements in a jurisdiction, identify liable parties, and evaluate case values based on experience. If a case lacks merit, an attorney saves the time and effort of pursuing an unfounded claim.
  • Managing Logistics: Attorneys coordinate details like gathering medical records/bills, documenting income losses and disruption expenses, retaining expert witnesses, and facilitating treatment plans - best positioning cases for resolution.  
  • Proving Liability: Lawyers establish negligence through crash reconstructions, police reports, witness statements, vehicle telematics, and licensing/registration paperwork - pointing fault to the other motorist. 
  • Demonstrating Damages: By translating injuries and economic harm into legal demands, attorneys put dollar amounts on intangible losses
  • Negotiation Leveraging: Lawyers pressure insurers to settle rather than proceed to costly litigation. Insurers often pay more with attorneys involved.
  • Trial Preparation: While over 90 percent of injury claims settle out of court, lawyers still prepare cases for maximum value should litigation become necessary. 
  • Legal Fees: Attorneys working on contingency take a percentage of their clients’ settlements as payment, so crash victims pay nothing upfront. Without representation, victims miss out on additional recovered damages to offset legal costs.

Resulting Financial Benefits 

Studies analyzing car crash settlements with and without attorneys confirm significantly higher payouts with legal representation on average. Across numerous analyses, car accident victims represented by legal counsel recovered.

While each case depends on specifics, on average, legal representation correlates to recovering two to three times more money – even after legal fees get deducted. For serious accidents with disabling injuries, this difference translates to hundreds of thousands if not millions more received. Victims can use this money to support their care needs and financial stability in the long term.

Strategies for Maximizing Claim Value

Here are key strategies that skilled car accident attorneys deploy that directly translate into higher financial recoveries:

Prove Long-Term Damages that Can Lead to Larger Settlements

Rather than accepting quick claim resolutions, attorneys focus on establishing lasting impacts, warranting higher settlements immediately and in the future.

Strategies here involve:

  • Using medical experts.
  • Projecting lifelong treatment costs.
  • Conducting vocational assessments.
  • Quantifying earning capacity differentials.
  • Collecting witness testimony.

Uncover All Possible Insurance Coverages

Attorneys thoroughly investigate every potential insurance policy at play beyond the basic auto liability coverage of the at-fault driver. This includes passenger policies, under-insured motorist coverage, med-pay benefits, personal liability umbrellas, workplace insurance, health providers - any coverages that can contribute to larger collective claim values.

Negotiate Diligently Outside of the Court  

Leveraging litigation risk against insurers wishing to avoid court and added costs, attorneys push for maximum justifiable settlements for the benefit of their clients.

While individual victims may feel pressure to accept lowball offers and move on, lawyers relentlessly yet strategically negotiate fuller recoveries, aligning with the long-term interests of the injured.

It’s understandable why car crash victims may hesitate to pay a portion of their settlements to attorneys. Yet, statistics clearly show the enhanced financial position injury victims gain, even after legal fees come out.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today

While not every fender-bender requires legal guidance, having an attorney negotiate a car accident settlement is necessary.

A strong legal advocate will uphold your best interest, removing the burdens experienced in life-altering crashes. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, don’t go it alone. Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer now to discuss your rights and project how much you can receive for your car accident claim.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

Author's Bio