This is one of the most common questions we hear. The short answer is that every car accident claim is different, but we can give examples. First, it helps to understand how the value of a claim is calculated. “Value” in this sense simply means the total dollar value you’re likely to walk away with. We’ll look at the different methods that lawyers and insurance companies use to come up with a dollar figure, and then apply that to some specific examples.
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How is the value of my car accident settlement calculated?
As a general rule, injuries that “appear” more serious will be given more weight, because juries tend to react more to these kinds of injuries. Even if the case never goes to trial, both sides consider how a jury would react because, if nothing could be worked out in negotiation, the jury would be the ultimate decider. That means that your injury could bring a higher settlement if it:
- Is visible and “looks” serious
- Required procedures that are complicated or invasive
- Did not respond well to initial treatment and took months or longer to improve
- Left you with permanent pain, disability or limitation
Beyond that, the two sides will differ in how they estimate the dollar cost of your injury. Both will look at your real medical costs plus “pain and suffering,” but your lawyer and the insurance company will use different methods to calculate a final number.
Your lawyer will calculate the cost of your injury based partly on how it affected your life. This can involve a number of factors, such as whether the injury interferes with your normal day to day living, whether you will continue to have pain in the future, whether it affects your ability to work, and whether there is any emotional anguish that goes with your injury.
The insurance company, on the other hand, will likely calculate the value of your settlement based on an algorithm. They will enter in the type of injury you have, and various factors relating to it, and let a computer give a number based on other similar cases.
Unsurprisingly, the insurance company’s number is often far lower than your lawyer’s number. This is why negotiation makes such a big difference in a car accident claim, and why an experienced lawyer can make such a big difference in how much you ultimately win.
What are examples of different car accident settlements and their values?
Given the formulas above, we can give a general range for how much some common car accident injuries might win in Georgia:
- A minor whiplash case, which is resolved quickly with chiropractic treatments, could win the cost of medical bills plus up to $3,000 extra.
- Moderate whiplash that required a specialist and physical therapy could win the cost of medical bills plus about $4,000 extra.
- More serious whiplash that requires an epidural, or another advanced procedure, could easily run $10,000 in medical bills and win another $5,000 to $10,000 on top of that.
- Joint or tissue damage that responds well to treatment and is resolved with physical therapy may bring the cost of medical bills plus $10,000 extra.
- Joint or tissue damage that requires ongoing treatment or injections could easily bring $25,000 or more.
- Injuries that require surgery may win settlements of $50,000 or more; severe injuries can easily win more than $100,000.
How can I find out exactly how much my claim is worth?
The more serious your injury is, the more the answer depends on having a professional negotiate your claim. For a very minor injury, having a lawyer could only make a difference of $3,000 or so; for shattered bones or a disability, a lawyer could help you get tens of thousands more than you would on your own.
Generally, the best way to make sure you get the full amount of your claim is to:
- See a doctor immediately,
- Be careful in what you say to the insurance company—talk to a lawyer before you sign anything,
- See specialists who understand your specific type of injury, and
- Have a lawyer represent you to the insurance company.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.