Anderson Injury Lawyers | November 28, 2023 | Car Accidents
Traffic collisions are an unfortunate reality that can result in physical injuries, financial losses, and emotional trauma. Under Texas personal injury law, you may be entitled to compensation for the full range of these damages. However, many people wonder how much to expect from a car accident settlement. The unsatisfying answer is that it depends.
Dozens of factors play a role in the settlement amount you can expect to receive after a car accident.
1. The Severity of Your Injuries
The seriousness of your injuries affects many different aspects of your personal injury claim, including:
- Medical expenses: Medical bills are generally proportional to the severity of your injuries—the more serious your injuries, the more medical treatment you are likely to need.
- Lost work time: The more serious your injuries, the more days of work you are likely to have to miss. A lot depends on your occupation. For example, you’re more likely to be capable of returning quickly to a job as an insurance actuary than to a job as a construction worker.
- Pain and suffering: Generally speaking, more severe injuries generate more suffering, both physical and mental, than less serious injuries.
There are many other ways in which the seriousness of your injuries might impact the value of your car accident claim.
2. How Much Money You Were Earning Before the Accident
The measure of your lost earnings is how much money you would have made during the days of work you missed because of the accident. It can get a bit more complicated if you return to work for a while on a part-time basis or if you have a variable income.
The more money you were making before the accident, the more lost earnings you probably suffered – and the more compensation you probably qualify for.
3. Comparative Fault
What happens when more than one party is at fault for the accident? For example, suppose you ran a red light while the other party was driving with their lights off at night. Negotiating parties will typically agree on an amount that reflects how they believe a Texas court could see the case.
In Texas, any party over 50% at fault receives nothing. A party who is 50% or less at fault suffers a deduction from their compensation that equals their own percentage of responsibility. If you were 40% at fault, for example, you will lose 40% of your compensation.
4. Insurance Coverage
Your claim could be worth a billion dollars. But if it is only insured for $10,000, then $10,000 is all you will receive from the insurance company–and it’s all the law requires them to offer. If you cannot find another responsible party to pay the remainder of your claim, you could be out of luck.
Texas requires its drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance in the amount of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident. Although fewer than 10% of all Texas drivers are uninsured, it’s probably worth it to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance just in case you’re hit by an uninsured motorist.
5. The Extent of Your Property Damage
If you drive an expensive car, your property damage could run to tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, Texas requires its drivers to purchase at least $25,000 in property damage liability insurance. Any amount more than that could turn out to be uncollectible.
6. The Strength of Your Evidence
Your evidence doesn’t have to be admissible in court to be useful at the settlement table. An accident report, for example, is generally inadmissible as evidence in court for most purposes but useful in negotiations. That is because the plaintiff’s lawyer will probably call the police officer who wrote the report to the stand. The report, although inadmissible, indicates how the officer will probably testify.
Just remember this much–the stronger your evidence, the greater your bargaining power, and the greater your bargaining power, the greater the potential value of your claim.
7. Negotiating Skills
Negotiation is an art. Unfortunately for car accident victims, it is critical to success at the settlement table. And insurance adjusters are usually expert negotiators. That’s okay because experienced personal injury lawyers are also expert negotiators.
The skill of your lawyer is a factor that shouldn’t matter, even though it matters very much. The same claim that one lawyer could get you $100,000 for might turn into $250,000 with a better lawyer. The worst mistake you can make, unless the value of your claim is negligible, is to represent yourself.
8. The Extent of Any Long-Term Disability You Might Suffer
If you suffer long-term or permanent disability because of your accident, and if you were working before the accident, you might find yourself unable to return to your previous occupation. In an extreme case, you might be forced to retire early because of your injuries. The younger you are when something like this happens, the more years of work you will lose.
You might have to estimate your lost earnings 40 years into the future. If you ask for too little and run out of money after 30 years, you won’t be able to return to the negotiating table to ask for more. You’ve got to get this one right the first time. You might need an expert witness to help you calculate the full extent of your future losses.
9. Whether Someone Died in the Car Accident
If someone died in the crash or died later as a result of the injuries they sustained in a car accident, certain close relatives can file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death cases generate different types of damages than personal injury claims do. Compensation awards tend to be high because they compensate for the loss of a human life.
A Fort Worth Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve in Your Settlement
Don’t worry about being able to afford a car accident lawyer. Under the contingency fee system that almost all personal injury lawyers use, you don’t pay anything until after your case is over. Even then, you owe nothing unless you win. In that case, your legal fees will amount to a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation. Ultimately, your lawyer cares more about the quality of your claim than they do about the amount of money you have in your pocket.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Texas
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth or Dallas and need legal help, contact our car accident lawyers at Anderson Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve Tarrant County, Dallas County, and throughout Texas.