After you are involved in a car accident, you need to deal with many expenses. From medical bills to car repairs, this incident can represent a complete disruption of your professional and personal life.
As your finances take a hit, you may start to wonder if you are entitled to some kind of monetary settlement due to your accident and how much this compensation could be.
While many factors, like the severity of your injuries, liability limits, and the circumstances of the crash, will determine whether you receive a monetary settlement or not, you always have the right to file a claim and seek compensation.
Not knowing how to start is normal, especially if you’ve never hired a lawyer or filed an insurance claim before. The very first thing to do is report the accident to your insurance company and, if possible, to the police.
Then, you need to file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance which is typically responsible for covering the losses; this is called a third-party claim. If you file a claim with your own insurance company, it is called a first-party claim.
A settlement does not require a court trial. Most of the time, both party’s attorneys or insurance companies realize who was really at fault based on the evidence and are willing to settle without involving a judge or a jury. Hence the importance of taking photos, reporting the accident, and contacting a lawyer as soon as possible.
How is the settlement amount calculated?
Given the number of car accidents that occur every year in the United States, you may assume there is a “formula” to calculate the value of any injury claim, but there isn’t. Not all settlements are the same, nor do a specific “type” of injury equal a certain amount of money.
How much you are entitled to depend on many factors that the adjuster considers:
- Medical bills (the lump sum you are billed): a lower amount of bills may suggest your injuries were resolved with one or two visits to your primary care doctor, and the pain and discomfort were low or didn’t last too long.
- Types of injuries: were these new injuries resulting solely from the accident? Or were they old injuries that were aggravated by it? Did the injuries cause any prolonged disability or permanently diminish your quality of life?
- The treatment: it is essential to seek medical attention immediately after the accident; if you wait too long or miss your appointments, it may seem like you were not hurt as bad as you claim to have been. The length of treatment is also crucial. Did you need surgery or months of physical therapy?
- Interference with your work and daily life activities: insurance companies will evaluate if you can maintain the same lifestyle as before or if you had to adjust your routine due to the accident and injuries sustained. Are you working? Did you lose time from work?
- Policy Limits: When you file a third-party injury claim, you are limited by the other driver’s insurance policy caps. In New York, the minimum liability limits per accident are $25.000 for bodily injury and $10.000 for property damage. If the damages exceed these limits, you may be entitled to Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
Should I hire a Lawyer?
Yes, it would be best if you always had a Personal Injury Lawyer to negotiate fair compensation for your accident. Insurance companies often start by offering a low amount, and an insurance adjuster may try to prove that you underwent unnecessary treatment. For example, they may say you could have gone back to work right after the accident.
Here is where an experienced lawyer’s expertise comes into play. An excellent personal injury lawyer will persuade the insurance company to look further into the matter and will keep negotiating until it receives a fair offer. You don’t need to take upon the first offer you receive; settlement amounts are determined by comparing resolutions in similar accidents with similar injuries.
A great Personal Injury Lawyer will maximize your settlement.
At Rosenberg & Rodriguez, your safety as our client is the number one priority. Our personal injury attorneys team will help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your accident.
We can meet with you via phone, virtual meeting platform, or in-person with an appointment. Our firm is also available to offer services in Spanish and Russian!