Car accidents often have dangerous and life-threatening complications. Accident settlement compensation is often the only resolve that people get after going through such an experience. The value of a settlement depends on the damages incurred and the validity of your liability claim. These two factors play the biggest role in what to expect from an auto settlement. There are certain states where it’s easier to get a settlement action as well. These factors and other parts of the settlement process are explained below.
How to File a Liability Claim
Most people think there are one of two ways to file a property claim or liability claim after an accident. You can file a property damage claim with the other driver’s car insurance company, or you can file a claim with your own car insurance company.
However, personal injury liability is separate from a property damage claim. Personal injury liability involves the option to sue. In personal injury cases, there are two main issues: liability and damages. If you can prove that you received damage and can also prove that the other driver is to blame, then you have a successful liability lawsuit.
Is Your Liability Strong?
In order to make a case, you have to have a strong liability claim. In no-fault states, you can’t recover monetary settlements unless liability exists. If you plan to sue for an auto settlement, you have to show that the other driver was negligent while driving. This can include:
- Not seeing another vehicle that was clearly seen by others
- Closely following another vehicle to the point of recklessness
- Driving too fast during inclement weather or bad visibility
- Making an illegal turn
- Not adhereing to traffic signs or signals
- Talking on the phone or texting while driving
Auto settlements are easier to win in no-fault states because the emphasis is less on liability. However you still have to show that the other driver was negligent and caused damage. Your settlement may be reduced or defeated if you can’t prove total liability or if you also had some liability in the accident.
How to Determine Damages
If liability exists, then damages will determine how much you may recover in auto settlement compensation for personal injuries sustained. There are three ways to figure out what the value of your settlement will be.
Most insurance companies use a software called Colossus to value a car accident settlement claim. Aetna, CNA, Erie, Farmers, Metropolita, Ohio Casualty, MetLife, USAA and others all use this software. There are also derivative software that essentially do the same thing as Colossus that other insurance companies use.
Colossus estimates settlement value based on your medical records. It gives different points of severity to injuries sustained and also considers the history of the attorney involved. Other factors that go into the decision include the place where the accident occurred and how the accident happened. The software then compiles a settlement range.
There are some injuries that increase the value of your claim according to Colossus. These include muscle spasms, neurosis, confusion or dizziness, intense pain, headaches, impaired movement, nausea, vision impairment, depression and anxiety. If you suffer any of these after an accident, you must report them to a medical professional. The system only recognizes your medical records in calculating your settlement range.
There are several other factors that determine the value according to your medical records. If you were hospitalized, the software values overnight stays, which obviously mean a more serious injury. It also considers the following:
- Type of treatment – The system recognizes diagnoses only related to your accident. So if a chiropractor diagnoses you with a sprain or strain in the neck, then you have a valid damage. If you see a specialist, your settlement value goes up significantly.
- Treatment Length – After 20 or so visits to a chiropractor, the value of your settlement starts to depreciate.
- Physical Therapy – Accurate documentation is key to receiving a higher value based on your need for physical therapy.
- Delays and Gaps in Treatment – These will depreciate your settlement significantly.
In addition to Colossus, multiple of specials and per diem also qualify the value of your auto accident settlement claim.
2. Multiple of Specials
With this method, you add medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering together to get the value of your settlement. However, an insurance company can challenge the amount. No-fault states do not compensate for pain and suffering.
3. Per Diem
This method assigns a value to each day that you endured pain and suffering. The total amount is added to the financial losses to find the total auto accident settlement value.
The auto accident settlement process can be very short or long depending on a variety of factors. For one, proper representation from auto accident attorneys can significantly speed up the process and win a lawsuit case if you have significant damages and a valid liability claim.