How Do Accident Settlements Work?
Accident Settlement Calculator
After being injured in an accident, many people wonder how much their accident case is worth. The answer is “it depends.” How much money you get from your accident settlement will depend on the specific facts of your case. Use our personal injury case calculator to better understand the maximum amount you may be able to recover after an injury.
Note that several things may impact your accident settlement amount. Some questions your lawyer will ask include: What expenses have you incurred as a result of the accident? Have you suffered any emotional damages? Who was at fault? Did you have, or have you been accused of having, some responsibility for the accident?
Once you've used our accident settlement calculator Arizona/New Mexico, schedule a free initial consultation with one of our injury lawyers where we will review your case for free and advise you on next steps. We'll also help you validate your potential injury lawsuit settlement based on the circumstances surrounding your accident case.
For more information about how to determine your injury lawsuit settlement amount, continue reading this page. We've compiled everything you should know about your potential accident lawsuit settlement value from possible monetary damages, non-financial damages, factors that may increase or decrease your accident case settlement, and how to maximize your settlement to ensure you can pay all of your bills and get your life back on track following an unexpected accident.
Potential Compensation After an Accident
Your injury settlement amount will be based on the damages you sustained. Part of those damages will be economic, meaning there is a clear monetary value that you can attach to your specific damages. Depending on the expenses you incurred due to the accident, your compensation may include:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Past, current, and future lost wages
- Property damage
- Home renovations needed because of your injury
- Rehabilitation costs
- Medication expenses
Some expenses, like medical bills and property repairs, are obvious, however, some damages are less obvious. This may include renovations to your home that were necessary because of your injury, such as a wheelchair ramp. Home health services or home cleaning and maintenance services may be included in some cases, too. Be sure to sit down with your accident lawyer Arizona to review your specific case and ensure you are seeking the appropriate damages. There may be expenses you don't immediately think about when it comes to structuring your settlement.
Calculating Non-Financial Damages
Unlike economic damage, non-financial or non-economic damages do not have a clear-cut monetary value. Instead, there are different ways to calculate these damages. Non-financial damages include the following types of damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Severe physical pain
- Wrongful death
An experienced accident lawyer will help you put non-economic damages into monetary terms to better understand things like potential pain and suffering settlement amounts. To calculate damages like emotional distress, a multiplier will be used. In most personal injury claims, this multiplier will fall between 1 and 1.5. Once economic damages are calculated (lost wages, medical bills, etc), this total will be multiplied by the determined multiplier. Certain factors of the case may increase the multiplier – in some cases, it can go as high as 5. Some factors that tend to increase the assigned multiplier are the severity of injuries sustained, the unquestionable and obvious fault of the defendant, the chronic nature of any sustained injuries, etc. Be sure to speak with your personal injury lawyer about this to ensure that you get the total compensation you deserve.
Factors That May Affect Your Settlement
Calculating your accident lawsuit settlement is not just about adding up all of your economic and non-economic damages. Some factors may impact your settlement for better or for worse. Some of the factors your accident attorney will note when helping you determine the value of your accident case includes:
- The percentage of fault you had in the accident - If you had any fault in the accident, your total settlement may be reduced by the percentage of fault you are determined to have contributed. More on this below.
- The severity of the injuries sustained - If an injury is particularly severe, like in the case of paralysis or permanent disfigurement, a judge or jury may place a higher value on the personal injury claim.
- Total medical expenses - Maximum medical improvement should be reached before a personal injury case is settled. It's important to know exactly what future medical expenses will be before a settlement is accepted.
- The physical location where the lawsuit is filed - Some counties and cities may place a higher value on certain case factors, like pain and suffering.
- Communication with insurance adjusters - Be careful when communicating with the insurance companies. Listen to your attorney, and let him or her handle most of the communication and negotiation with the insurance company. More on how bad communication with the insurance can negatively impact your case below.
- Whether or not you can work - If an injury has affected a person's ability to work while they recover, this will be factored into the settlement decision.
- The amount of evidence that exists and is available - Evidence is important in proving claims and justifying injury settlement amounts. If there is a lack of evidence, it may be difficult to receive a sufficient settlement.
- Precedence in similar cases - Past verdicts in similar accident cases can help a judge or jury come to a decision more quickly and efficiently.
- Insurance policy limitations - Often, a personal injury lawsuit is paid via the at-fault party's insurance provider. Thus, the policy limits will play a large role in determining the injury settlement amount. If a policy doesn't cover all losses incurred by the victim due to the accident, further legal action may be necessary.
How to Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement
There are simple steps you can take to maximize your chances at a better settlement. Use our accident settlement calculator to get a good idea of what your settlement could be. One of the most important things you can do is take your accident lawyer's advice when it comes to your case. Many times, accident victims hurt their own cases by not listening to their attorneys, going behind their attorney's back, or completely lying about their cases in hopes the attorney won't find out. The attorney always finds out – whether they find out from the opposing side or you can make or break your case. Always be upfront with your personal injury lawyer and heed his or her advice. Here are some things you can do to increase your odds at an accident settlement that will help you get your life back on track.
Collect Evidence and Keep Good Records
Collecting the right evidence in an accident case is vital to your injury lawsuit settlement amount. Evidence can prove your version of events, which may be especially important if the cause of the accident or liability is contested. Some examples of crucial evidence after an accident may include:
- Photographs of the accident scene, injuries, and property damage
- The official police report
- Eyewitness reports
- Medical reports
- Expert witness reports
- Reconstructed accident scenes
- Traffic video and public camera footage
- Black box data in the case of semi-truck accidents
Collecting evidence in a timely manner is also important. Waiting too long to speak with a personal injury lawyer and file your accident claim may result in lost evidence, which can severely hurt your injury settlement.
Be Careful with Social Media
Today, a natural inclination for many people seems to be to post photos of an accident online. This is a really bad idea. Insurance adjusters are likely going to go to your social media channels, and the post, comments, photos, etc, may be easily misconstrued. For instance, imagine you post photos of your accident and include a comment that sarcastically states what a “great” week you're having. You meant it sarcastically, but the insurance company may manipulate that comment into meaning that you are doing very well after the accident, which could reduce your car accident settlement amount offer.
Additionally, be careful what you post on social media even if you're not posting specifically about the accident. The insurance company will be looking for anything they can to reduce your settlement offer; including photos and comments that create the perception and argument that you are doing well after the accident only hurts your case. It's advisable that you change your settings to private and carefully consider everything you do post.
Don't Forego Doctor Visits
Directly after an accident, it's advisable that you get assessed by a medical professional. Adrenaline can mask injury symptoms, and getting checked out immediately can help you avoid any serious complications from unknown injuries. Additionally, seeing a doctor as soon as possible after the accident also may make your case stronger in the long run. Depending on your situation, you should continue making regular doctor visits. Sometimes an injury needs continued observation or treatment to ensure you properly recover and that you have the evidence to prove future medical treatment is necessary. Here are a few reasons to seek (and continue seeking) medical attention after an accident:
- Avoiding further injury due to complications - Without treatment, some injuries will get a lot worse within just a few hours. For instance, brain injuries can result in hematoma or hemorrhage, leading to serious complications and sometimes death.
- Avoiding potential insurance claim denials - If the insurance company decides that you are fine because you neglected to see a doctor, they may deny your claim. Similarly, any delayed treatment may also cause denied claims.
- Building evidence to support your claim - Depending on the case, it may be difficult to prove an insurance claim if there is no medical documentation to support it. Claiming you have a back injury with no MRI, X-rays, etc to back it up typically results in claim denial. Further, this medical evidence is used in determining how much compensation you'll need to recover from your injuries. Validating the potential settlement you generated with our accident settlement calculator means having the right evidence to back up your claims.
- Avoiding receiving too-low insurance settlement offers - The insurance company will usually do everything possible to minimize your settlement amount. Neglecting or delaying medical attention after an accident gives them an additional excuse to minimize the amount.
Understand that the Insurance Adjuster Is Not Your Friend
The adjuster may be friendly and delightful on the phone, but don't let that fool you into jeopardizing your case. Most of us want to be cordial when chatting with another person, but be careful what you say to the insurance company. Note that insurance adjusters are often searching for reasons not to pay you or to pay you as little as possible. Simply mentioning your “great weekend hiking with the family” when asked about your weekend can have detrimental effects on your accident lawsuit settlement amount. How you communicate with the insurance company is crucial – check out these tips on speaking with the adjuster after your accident.
Challenge Fault If Applicable
If any fault is shared and you believe you had no liability in the accident, you may challenge the fault decision made by the insurance company. Through evidence, your lawyer will help you challenge the liability determination, which, if successful, may increase your car accident settlement amount. In Arizona and New Mexico, comparative negligence comes into play when more than one party is liable for the accident. This means that fault can be shared and divided among the responsible parties based on the percentage of fault each party is determined to have contributed to the accident. Each party's settlement will also be reduced by the amount of fault they are determined to have played in the incident.
For example, if a plaintiff was rewarded $100,000 in damages and was found to be 20 percent liable, they'd only receive $80,000 in compensation.
Consult an Accident Lawyer As Soon As Possible
If you've been in an accident, the sooner you consult an attorney, the better your chances are at getting a fair and appropriate settlement offer. Delays in investigating your case may cause crucial evidence to go missing or be destroyed. Similarly, dealing with the insurance alone opens doors for them to trick you into jeopardizing your case, therefore lowering your potential settlement. Lastly, there are deadlines to adhere to when it comes to accident cases called the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to consult a personal injury lawyer, you may miss your opportunity to seek legal remedy entirely.
Confirm Your Estimated Settlement with a Free Case Review
If you've been hurt in an accident, give our accident lawyers in Arizona and New Mexico a call or text today. If you used our accident settlement calculator, schedule a free online or in-person consultation, so we can validate your calculation and ensure that all damages are factored into the total.