Being involved in an auto accident is naturally an extremely stressful and overwhelming experience for any individual. There are so many factors and details to consider, but one of the most pressing concerns for many people is the monetary aspect and what to expect as far as financial recovery and monetary compensation.
Even if the injuries are relatively minor, car accidents inevitably cause significant disruption to virtually every aspect of a person’s daily routine, affecting both their personal and professional life. There is also the added stress of dealing with a seemingly endless list of items; including car repairs, claims adjusters from the insurance companies, and medical bills, which are just some of the particularly notable examples.
In many cases, the personal injuries sustained as a result of the accident can also impair a person’s ability to be able to perform their required duties at work, and therefore, the issue of lost wages is an additional factor that may come into play.
How Much Should You Expect to Receive From A Car Accident Settlement?
Given that monetary compensation is a primary concern for the majority of car accident victims, it is no surprise that one of the most common questions from potential clients is how much they should expect to receive from an auto accident settlement, along with how long it will take to get paid. Put simply, the answer will be case-specific, involves an evaluation of a multitude of factors, and will vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case.
For those who have never had experience with retaining and working with an attorney before, and are also unfamiliar with how to file an insurance claim and most effectively navigate the often daunting claims process, it is only logical that such individuals have no idea how much money they are entitled to, what to expect and what needs to be done to win their case.
An experienced car crash attorney can help to establish the value of your case by analyzing the specific details of any expenses incurred as a result of the accident along with how such expenses have impacted your everyday life. An experienced personal injury lawyer will also have familiarity and knowledge of car accident law, including Florida car accident laws; allowing them to navigate the often daunting and complex personal injury claims process on your behalf as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Another significant advantage of working with a skilled attorney is that they can utilize their top-notch negotiating skills in order to continue negotiating until a fair offer is received without just accepting the first offer made and settling immediately. In doing so, you can be certain that you are going to receive the maximum possible settlement amount; a good lawyer with superior negotiating skills will almost certainly increase your settlement offer. In fact, research has shown that claimants who retain legal representation for their car crash cases receive proportionately larger settlements on average.
The amount of an automobile crash settlement is determined by studying and evaluating similar incidents involving similar injuries in the same venue by analyzing the average settlements received, as well as the standard general outcomes and resolutions of such cases.
Personal injury attorneys almost always work on what’s known as a contingency basis, which is the industry standard. This means that you are not obligated to pay any upfront fees or costs of any kind; the attorney will only be compensated if they successfully ensure that you receive compensation.
What does all of this mean for you? For one thing, you can rest assured that the contingency fee structure functions as an added incentive for your attorney to work as diligently and as effectively as possible on your case and ensure you receive the proper legal recourse, compensation, and the maximum possible monetary settlement.
This article will provide you with in-depth information with respect to the overall claims process, applicable laws and standards, factors that will influence the value of your claim, as well as a car accident settlement calculator, which will serve as a comprehensive guide and includes detailed insight as to how settlements are calculated and how much compensation an injured victim can realistically expect to receive from a settlement.
Car Accident Lawsuit Settlement Process Overview and Timeline – How Long Does a Car Insurance Claim Take to Settle?
The first step in the settlement claims process starts right at the scene of the accident.
Assuming you are physically capable of doing so, it is in your best interest to gather as much information and evidence as possible at the scene of the car accident, such as the type of all vehicles involved and their license plate numbers, contact information for all drivers, vehicle occupants and witnesses, insurance information for all parties involved in the accident, photos of the property damage as well as photos of any visible injuries and photos of any potential hazards that may have contributed to the accident.
While it is possible to go off of the information in the crash and accident police report, oftentimes the police may miss key facts or include inaccurate information when filling out the report. They are also virtually never present to witness the accident take place in real-time, so their account of what took place is based solely on what they witness on a post-accident basis and the statements of those involved in the accident as to what took place.
The next step is making sure you get the proper medical treatment required based on your injuries.
If the injuries are severe, it’s likely that emergency response teams arrived at the scene of the wreck and transported you to the nearest hospital emergency room via ambulance (hospitals can sometimes attempt to ensure they get paid by enforcing health insurance liens). If you were able to walk away from the accident and sustained moderate injuries, it is still imperative that you see a physician for an examination of common car crash injuries immediately.
Some types of injuries will not cause symptoms right away, and may not be apparent or present themselves until hours or even days after the accident. This is why documentation is particularly important. Aside from physical injuries, automobile crashes can also lead to emotional trauma, in which case seeking mental health treatment is also part of the prescribed course of medical treatment. Again, all medical expenses should be claimed through PIP, and not through your health insurance company as this will likely negatively impact your case.
Step three involves filing an insurance claim with your own insurance carrier under your PIP policy.
A common question at this stage in the process is whose insurance pays for the car accident in Florida. Florida is what’s referred to as a no-fault insurance state, meaning that your first step in receiving compensation for losses related to injuries sustained in the automobile wreck is to file a claim under your PIP (personal injury protection) policy.
Pursuant to Florida law, anyone with a registered vehicle is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage; you cannot step outside this no-fault system until you either meet or exceed your PIP policy limits, which is not difficult in the case of a severe accident in particular. Florida PIP coverage is limited, and solely covers 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages up to the policy limit, and does not cover any non-economic losses of any kind.
It is extremely important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, and pursuant to Florida law, within 14 days of the accident. Failure to do so will likely result in forfeiting the PIP benefits you are entitled to and may hurt your chances of a fair settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier often claiming that failure to seek medical treatment in a timely manner indicates that the individual’s injuries are not really that significant or serious. It is almost never advisable to attempt to go through your health insurance company to cover your medical expenses when treating an auto accident.
Next, once the PIP coverage limits have been exhausted, you should proceed with filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier for the purpose of requesting that they payout under the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability policy. In the event that the other driver involved in the accident doesn’t have valid car insurance or doesn’t have sufficient auto insurance coverage, or fled the scene of the accident, you must then file a claim with your insurance carrier pursuant to your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, if available.
After you file a formal claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they will investigate the accident. This includes conducting a thorough review of the police report, recorded witness interviews, as well as consulting with third parties such as accident specialists and medical experts.
It is imperative to understand that insurance companies and the claims adjusters working on their behalf will look for any reason or opportunity to devalue your claim, particularly when you are dealing with the other party’s insurance carrier. It is not uncommon for some insurance companies to engage in aggressive and ethically questionable tactics that go as far as impinging upon your rights utilizing a variety of deceptive tactics.
Pursuant to Florida law, insurance companies have up to 30 days in order to respond to a filed claim. After the completion of their investigation, and upon review of your documentation such as medical bills and other damages sustained, the insurance adjuster will offer an initial settlement amount.
The next part of the process involves negotiating with the insurance company. This is arguably one of the most critical stages in the process, where it is imperative to retain an attorney to represent you, especially if your ultimate goal is to maximize your recovery and ensure you received the maximum financial award to which you are entitled.
The reason for this is that initial settlement offers are meant to entice you to sign away your rights to sue for damages and will eliminate any chance of the insurance company paying out a large amount later on in the process. Insurance adjusters are notorious for manipulating people into accepting responsibility or accepting partial fault for the accident, even if that is not the case. They will require you to sign a waiver or authorization as a prerequisite to receiving the initial settlement offer compensation, essentially meaning you have signed away your rights.
Therefore, it is not advisable to accept any such offer.
Rather, the best course of action is to use it as a starting point for negotiations. An individual who has recently been a victim of a car accident, and who recently sustained significant injuries should not be subjected to stressful phone calls with insurance adjusters. Instead, your personal injury lawyer will handle all such communications on your behalf and is the person who is in the best position to fight for the maximum possible financial award to which you are entitled. They have substantial experience dealing with and fighting insurance companies that they can utilize in order to secure the maximum monetary compensation possible and produce the best possible outcome for you.
As far as the claims process timeline is concerned, it varies on a case-by-case basis and can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months (and in some cases even several years) for a car accident to settle. It tends to take longer when the accident is severe, with extensive injuries and significant property damage, all of which must be investigated by both parties.
What Factors Impact the Amount of a Car Accident Injury Settlement?
It is virtually impossible to be able to place a definitive monetary value on a car accident case or predict the precise settlement which you will receive. There is no set formula in these cases; a specific type of injury doesn’t equal a certain designed amount of money. Car accident settlements are not one size fits all, and involve a multi-factor analysis of many variables and factors that are completely unique to the specific circumstances of each individual case. This is why it is impossible to quantify what constitutes an “average” settlement and is yet another reason why working with an experienced car accident attorney is in your best interest.
Your attorney will be in the best position to help you establish the value of your case based upon the specific details regarding what expenses were incurred, along with the impact of such on your life overall. While there are countless potential factors and variables which can come into play, we will discuss the most significant and notable factors which affect the value of your claim in detail below.
The at-fault party in the accident must have valid insurance and the proper resources available to pay for a claim. When filing a third-party injury claim, you are limited by the maximum caps and policy limits of the other driver’s insurance policy. The more robust the policy and the more comprehensive the coverage of the at-fault party, the higher the settlement. Each state has its own rules and minimum car insurance requirements.
In Florida for example, the minimum PIP coverage is $10,000 per person, and the minimum required property damage coverage is also $10,000 a person. Bodily injury liability coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage are not required at all and don’t have any minimum requirements. Therefore, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have valid insurance, doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage, or fled the scene of the accident, this negatively impacts the settlement amount and, in the event your damages exceed such policy limits, you may be out of luck.
Accidents involving vehicles with commercial policies, or Uber and Lyft rideshare accident cases tend to allow for large settlements because the policy limits are very high.
Determining and Proving Liability
Liability in car accident cases is almost always established by proving that the at-fault party was negligent. In order to prove negligence, it is essential to prove the following: the person failed to use “ordinary care” when driving, thus resulting in the automobile accident which caused you to incur damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages due to missing work.
The “ordinary care” standard essentially means that if the other party did not do what a reasonable person of sound judgment would have done in a similar situation, they are negligent.
In the ideal scenario, the best way to ensure you receive the maximum financial compensation possible is to show that the other party was completely at fault for the accident, with one common example of clearcut liability being a rear-end collision.
One factor that could decrease the amount of your settlement is if it is established that you were also partially at fault for the accident, commonly known as contributory negligence. In such cases, your final settlement would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to you in the accident and would prevent you from being able to collect the maximum allowable compensation available up to the third party’s bodily injury liability coverage policy limit.
Financial Losses and Damages
A car accident settlement should adequately compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages and income, and property damage.
Medical expenses that you are able to claim as part of your settlement include the costs of ambulance transportation, ER and hospital services, surgical services, hospitalization, medications dispensed both at the hospital and prescribed for you after being discharged from the hospital, diagnostic tests, lab work, physical therapy, rehabilitation and any other follow-up treatments as needed.
Two factors that could negatively affect your ability to be compensated for medical expenses are: (i) a delay in seeking medical treatment, refusing to seek medical treatment, or any gaps in medical treatment, as this could be construed as evidence that the injuries are not that serious, and if you don’t seek medical treatment within 14 days of the date of the accident, your forfeit your PIP coverage benefits; and (ii) pre-existing injuries may potentially be used by the third party’s insurance carrier as a way to potentially devalue your claim.
You can also claim the amount of work missed due to the injuries sustained, and also any time from work missed due to injury-related appointments. Both courts and insurance adjusters also consider the extent and severity of injuries you sustained as well as the possibility of permanent disability, where you are unable to work at all.
Even once you are able to return to work, but are not able to perform as well as you did before the accident due to your injuries, they will also evaluate how the accident and resulting injuries have hurt your earning potential and capacity. All of these are considerations that your car crash attorney, along with consulting doctors and other medical experts, will examine when substantiating the value of your case.
Claiming lost wages is one of the easier categories of damages to prove and be compensated for, particularly if you work for someone else and receive a regular paycheck. Those who are self-employed or have commission-based jobs may have slightly more difficulty, but ultimately any verification of income through documentation including but not limited to: tax returns, evidence of time missed from work, and missed conferences leading to missed business opportunities.
Property damage to your car due to the accident caused by the at-fault party entitles you to seek compensation through the at-fault party’s insurance carrier under that individual’s required property damage policy. This will pay for any costs and expenses associated with repairing and/or replacing your vehicle, such as body shop repairs, rental car costs, or the cost of replacing your car completely if it has been totaled.
Each state differs as far as their minimum requirements for the property damage policy. In Florida for example, each individual must have a property damage policy with a minimum policy limit of $10,000. In addition, depending upon the type of insurance coverage you along with the other liable parties have, there may be additional sources that will also help to compensate you for property damage costs.
As previously mentioned, third-party insurance bodily injury liability claims through the at-fault party’s insurance carrier do not contain restrictions such as are in place for PIP coverage and entitle you to be compensated in full for any remaining medical expenses, lost wages, economic damages as well as non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages are those that affect your emotional well-being, relationships, and the ability to enjoy any hobbies or activities you were involved in prior to the accident. Oftentimes, non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify, but they tend to be the most damaging and devastating as far as their impact.
Non-economic damages can include the following pain and suffering, embarrassment and/or humiliation, loss of ability to appreciate and enjoy life’s pleasures, as well as disfigurement.
Some considerations that come into play when evaluating the extent of an individual’s non-economic damages are as follows: age at the time of the accident and injuries, the severity of the injuries, and the significance of the resulting impact. An important piece of information to keep in mind is that the higher the likelihood that a large sum of money will be awarded for non-economic damages in a case particularly if it proceeds to litigation, serve as a powerful bargaining tool that your attorney will likely utilize as part of their negotiation strategy to ensure you receive the maximum possible financial recovery.
The Severity of Your Injuries
The more serious and lifelong and/or permanent your injuries are, the higher your settlement amount will likely be. The underlying goal of the car accident settlement is to ensure fair and adequate compensation for your losses, damages, and injuries sustained as a result of the crash. The settlement amount should be proportionate to the severity of the injuries sustained.
In cases of egregious recklessness, it may be possible to recover for punitive damages. These are also commonly referred to as exemplary damages. Their underlying objective is to punish the at-fault reckless driver who caused the accident. They are not meant to directly compensate victims. The most likely scenario where punitive damages would be awarded is a situation where the at-fault driver was committing a crime at the time of the collision.
Your Patience with the Process is Vital to Receiving the Highest Settlement Possible
The more serious the accident, the longer it will take to reach a settlement for the case. Insurance companies will conduct a thorough, lengthy case investigation in an attempt to find any potentially damaging information in order to hurt or diminish the value of your claim. In addition, the negotiation process between your attorney and the insurance company to reach the maximum possible settlement often takes a significant amount of time before the insurance company makes any counter-offers and ultimately offers to pay out the settlement. This is another reason why you stand to benefit substantially by hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your case, as they are very familiar with these tactics frequently used by insurance companies and will be handling all communications with the insurance company on your behalf.
The Number of At-Fault Parties
If your accident was between you and another driver using their personal vehicle, your sole avenue of compensation will likely be through the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. However, multi-vehicle accidents or accidents involving commercial vehicles or rideshares like Uber and Lyft often have umbrella policies and multiple types of coverage with high policy limits, so in these cases, there are often multiple avenues of compensation, thereby resulting in a higher settlement. Your car wreck lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of every possible avenue of compensation and locate each and every liable party to ensure you receive the maximum settlement possible.
The Laws in Your State
Each state has its own laws with respect to car accidents and car insurance that may impact the amount of your financial accident settlement.
As discussed previously, Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that each individual involved in the accident must look to their own PIP coverage through their insurance carrier, which will cover their medical expenses and lost wages up to the $10,000 maximum limit, regardless of fault. The PIP coverage provided under Florida law offers a relatively low amount of money as compared to other states, meaning that any additional medical bills or lost wages must be claimed by filing a bodily injury liability claim with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier.
The only way to step outside of Florida’s no-fault system and obtain the maximum compensation possible is to file the bodily injury liability claim, which entitles you to recover for any additional medical expenses and lost wages in full, along with any other economic and non-economic damages sustained up to the full policy limit amount.
Florida also does not require that individuals have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which means that in the event that the at-fault driver is uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate you, you are left with no recourse unless you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in which case you can obtain additional compensation by filing this type of claim.
Additionally, Florida has a 4-year statute of limitations within which you must file your claim. If you do not do so within the statute of limitations, you forfeit your right to seek legal recourse and receive financial compensation for your damages and injuries.
Length of Medical Treatment
The more severe your injuries, the higher the likelihood that you will require multiple surgeries and a prolonged course of medical treatment. Even in cases relatively involving minor injuries, months of physical therapy are often required. A car accident case typically cannot be settled until you have completed the prescribed course of treatment and all damages can be properly assessed. It is never advisable to attempt to rush through your medical treatment plan in order to try and get your settlement faster as this almost always results in hurting and negatively impacting your case and diminishing the value of your claim.
For a free legal consultation, call 833-552-7274
Auto Crash Settlement Calculator – Average Lawsuit Settlements For Car Accidents in Florida and Average Settlements for Rear-End Collisions in Florida
With respect to the average settlement for car accidents in the state of Florida, generally, the average case settlement ranges between $14,000.00 and $15,000.00. However, this is not at all indicative of what you should expect to receive as each case involves very unique factors and circumstances and is dependent upon other factors such as policy limits as well. Therefore, the best way of gauging the value of your claim is to weigh all of the factors discussed in the above section in order to estimate your ultimate settlement amount. The best way to evaluate the value of your case is by consulting with a car accident attorney who will conduct a complete and thorough investigation and is in the best position to most accurately evaluate the case as they have significant experience with this process.
To provide a general guide to how settlement amounts are calculated and determined, there is a standard formula that is used. This auto-crash settlement calculator provides the following formula:
-To calculate the value of your auto wreck, you must add out-of-pocket medical bills and related expenses (as well as health insurance liens), lost wages, along with non-economic damages sustained such as pain and suffering.
-Next, reduce the total value by your percentage of fault if your case involves contributory negligence. For example, if you were 50% at fault, your recovery will be reduced by 50%.
-If you were not at fault, do not reduce the total settlement value. For example, if you were involved in a rear-end collision, you are almost always automatically deemed to be not at fault.
Again, this is a very general overview as to how settlement value is calculated, but as discussed in the above section, the ultimate value is also based upon a number of other factors and details specific to your case.
Dolman Law Group Injury Lawyers – A Firm Dedicated to Providing Exceptional Client Service and to Fighting to Get You the Most Money Possible
When it comes time to choose an attorney, we hope you will consider the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. We pride ourselves on being well-versed with respect to car accident law and are specialists in Florida law. We handle motor vehicle collisions as well as all other types of personal injury claims. We encourage all our potential clients to do their research. Check out our Google reviews, our ranking on Avvo.com and Superlawyers.com, and verify our background on the Florida Bar’s website. We have built our entire business on reputation and word-of-mouth. Unlike many other law firms, we do not rely on big-budget TV advertising or pay-for-clients referral services to keep unaware clients rolling in. Instead, we trust that our former clients will recommend us through online reviews, by telling their friends, and by supporting us on social media. It’s not always easy, but that’s how an honest business operates, and we like it that way.
We also pride ourselves on providing the best results possible for our clients and have consistently successfully won numerous million and multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of our clients. Those who have been involved in an auto wreck and want to ensure that they receive the maximum compensation to which they are legally entitled to stand to benefit substantially by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. At Dolman Law Group, one of our experienced personal injury lawyers will sit down with you, go over your case including case specifics depending on the type of claim, and answer any questions you may have during a free consultation. Don’t hesitate to make that first step towards financial recovery today. Call us at (866) 722-7212.