By Adam B. Lawler | May 17, 2022

​How Much Money Do You Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

​How Much Money Do You Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

No one can tell you exactly how much money you can get in injury compensation. Insurance adjusters and juries can sometimes be unpredictable when valuing your case. But an experienced personal injury lawyer can often give you a range that you can expect based on the categories of losses you experienced and the injuries you suffered. Prior case results can help a car crash lawyer identify those factors most likely to affect the value of your case and the eventual settlement or damage award you can get. Read on to learn about some factors that affect how much money you can get from a car crash settlement.

Types of Damages

Damages in injury cases usually fall into three categories:

Economic Losses

Economic losses include all of the present and future tangible financial losses that result from your injuries. These financial losses could include out-of-pocket expenses. They also include amounts you must pay, like medical bills, even if you have not yet paid them. Economic losses can include expenses that only became necessary due to your injuries. Thus, your economic losses can include the cost of installing a wheelchair ramp in your home. Any income you lost due to your injuries can also qualify as an economic loss. If you missed work while recovering from your injuries, you could include your lost wages. You can also include future lost income if you can measure it. Suppose that a car crash leaves you permanently disabled and unable to continue with your current job. Your economic damages include the difference between your old salary and the salary you could get with your disability. Some examples of economic losses include:
  • Past and future costs of medical examination, treatment, surgery, physical therapy, and medication
  • Past and future expenses for mental health treatment
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Property losses and expenses
Your economic losses do not necessarily need to fall into these categories. Car accident lawyers refer to economic losses as special damages. This means you can include any expense unique to your case as long as you can prove its value and that the other driver's negligence caused it.

Non-Economic Losses

Non-economic losses cover every way your accident diminished your quality of life. Personal injury lawyers sometimes refer to these losses as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of a normal life, and most car accident cases will claim both of them. Spouses and certain family or loved ones can sometimes claim consortium and companionship, too. Injuries affect every aspect of your life. You may have sleepless nights because you cannot get comfortable or have nightmares about your crash. You might need to arrange for help to drive, shop, or even shower and dress. Due to your injuries, you also might need to give up the activities you love, like sports or hobbies. Some of the types of losses you can use to support a non-economic damage award claim include:
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Inconvenience
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Loss of consortium or marital relations
  • Loss of companionship
You do not need to prove your non-economic damages. Lawyers refer to non-economic damages as general damages. Jurors and claim adjusters can use their experience and judgment to calculate a fair non-economic damage award based on your injuries.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages punish the at-fault party for especially egregious, willful, intentional, or wanton conduct. In the average negligence case, you will probably not get punitive damages.

Evidence to Support Your Damages

When you submit your insurance claim, you will include proof of loss documents. These documents will show how much you spent or owe due to your injuries for your economic losses. Some examples of evidence you will include with your insurance claim include:
  • Medical bills
  • Wage records
  • Doctor’s letters excusing you from work
  • Pain medication prescription records
  • Mental health counseling bills
Your non-economic damages will depend on the severity and duration of your injuries. You will not necessarily need to present evidence of your losses. The claims adjuster or jurors can infer your losses from your injuries. But to ensure they appreciate the extent of your losses, you can include evidence of:
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Long-term disabilities
  • Limitations on your activities
Since these losses do not have a dollar value attached, you may also need to provide expert witnesses who can explain how to translate these losses into money.

Settling Your Car Crash Claim

Your car crash settlement will ideally cover all of your losses. But this will take work. Insurers have a financial incentive to reduce your claim as much as possible. Your car crash lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster to get a fair settlement. Settlement is always the first stage of the legal process. A good car accident lawyer will try to settle your case, since it will result in far quicker compensation. A good car accident lawyer, however, will also always use a lawsuit as a last resort and let the defendant know they will exercise that option if negotiations fail to yield fair compensation. In that case, proving damages becomes more important, since you will need to persuade a jury to award the compensation you need. To discuss the settlement you might receive based on your injuries, you should contact a car accident lawyer to schedule a free consultation.

Adam B. Lawler

Attorney at Law / Partner

Adam Lawler is the founder of Lawler Brown. Adam is a 2004 graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law. Adam worked for a local firm until founding the Lawler Brown in 2009. Adam’s practice areas focus in Personal Injury, Business, Real Estate, Probate/Trust/Estate Administration and general litigation.

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