Mitchell Lattof | December 1, 2020 | Car Accidents
Car accidents are stressful and traumatic events. They also represent one of the leading causes of personal injury in the state of Alabama. In the aftermath of a collision, you have the right to seek financial recovery. If you or someone you love is planning to seek compensation, you may be wondering how much you can expect from a car accident settlement.
Unfortunately, there is no “average” settlement amount. There are a range of specific factors that will influence the financial recovery total in each particular crash. An experienced attorney can help you analyze the circumstances of your collision to determine how much you can expect.
Let’s examine nine of the factors that will influence your settlement total.
#1 – Insurance Coverage
An accident claim’s value will depend on the type of insurance coverage held by each of the parties involved in the crash. Under Alabama state law, every driver must hold a liability insurance policy, because Alabama is an “at-fault” state. This means that the person who is deemed responsible for the crash is accountable for all of the property damage and costs associated with personal injuries.
Alabama requires that drivers maintain at least the following coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of an individual
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of more than one individual
- $25,000 for property damage
Failing to hold this minimum coverage can result in license suspension and fines of up to $1,000.
#2 – Evidence to Prove Liability
The foundation of a successful car accident settlement is having evidence to prove that you were not responsible for the collision. Some of your medical costs may be covered regardless of fault, depending on the type of insurance and benefits you have. But your attorney’s ability to negotiate a high settlement depends on proving the liability of another driver (or drivers).
Most car accident claims cases rely on proving that the other driver involved was negligent. Proving negligence involves providing evidence of the following:
- The liable party owed other drivers on the road the duty of care in operating their vehicle safely and lawfully.
- The liable party violated this duty of care. For instance, perhaps the at-fault driver was distracted by an electronic device or was too drowsy to drive.
- The collision was a consequence of this breach of care, which resulted in damages to you. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Because Alabama is an at-fault state, if another driver can prove that you are liable for the accident it might decrease your expected settlement or leave you vulnerable to further liability.
#3 – Current and Future Medical Expenses
The extent of medical expenses suffered from the accident will also determine the settlement amount. In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, be sure to accept a medical examination and any necessary care for your injuries.
Many injuries and symptoms do not appear until later. If the other driver is at fault, their insurance provider may offer you a small settlement immediately after the crash. Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney before accepting any settlement. The insurance provider does not have your best interests in mind.
#4 – Lost Wages and Income
Lost wages are one of the easiest components of a settlement for an attorney to prove. Some injuries result in your inability to perform at your job. If your injuries are preventing you from working, then you are losing wages with each day that passes.
Additionally, the length of time that you are out of work will be relevant. Be sure to talk with your attorney about how any long-term effects of your injuries might influence your earning potential moving forward.
#5 – Property Damage
Any vehicular property damage sustained in the collision should be covered by the at-fault party’s insurance company. As mentioned above, the state of Alabama requires drivers to carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage for property damage.
#6 – Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs
Following a car accident, most people find that their financial obligations skyrocket. When you work with a trusted car accident lawyer, you can claim the following expenses:
- Car rental while your car is being repaired
- Home modifications necessitated by disability
- Housekeeping services necessitated by your inability to perform household tasks
- Prosthetic limbs
Save all documentation and receipts of any expenses that are a result of your accident or injury. Your lawyer may use copies of bills and receipts to prove the extent of your damages and injuries.
#7 – Non-Economic Damages
If you were injured in your collision, you can also make a claim for damages that are non-economic. This kind of damage involves your psychological and emotional well-being. The loss of your ability to enjoy hobbies and interests that you liked before the collision is also a non-economic damage.
Quantifying these expenses is difficult. A car crash attorney can help you to determine the appropriate recovery amount for the following non-economic damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Social embarrassment
- Loss of ability to enjoy daily life
Making a claim for non-economic damages is a powerful strategy to recover the maximum amount of compensation in your case.
#8 – Uncooperative Insurance Provider
Sometimes, the relevant insurance provider may be uncooperative in providing the compensation that you are owed. If that happens, you can discuss further options with your legal counsel. When an insurance provider is not cooperating, acts in bad faith, or will not negotiate in a serious manner, you may choose to pursue litigation or simply to accept a settlement that is lower than what you had hoped for.
While your lawyer will never make this choice for you, they can help you to determine the best course of action. You should consider the strength of the evidence in your case. And you should also consider the nature, visibility, and extent of your injuries and damages.
#9 – Patience
The final factor that will influence how much you can expect from your car accident settlement is patience. The settlement process and negotiations take more time than people often realize.
Navigating a legal process can be especially difficult if you are also focusing on recovering from your injuries and getting your life back on track. The more patience that you have, the better the chances that your settlement will be the highest possible amount.