How Much is My Car Accident Case Worth?
How much your car accident case is worth depends very much on the specific circumstances surrounding the crash. It will also depend on whether or not you are found partly responsible for the accident, known as comparative negligence. For example, if you were found 15 percent liable for the accident, that would reduce your compensation by that percentage.
After a car accident for which another driver was at fault, it is likely that the party’s insurance adjuster will contact you and offer some sort of settlement. Never accept such an offer before speaking with an attorney. It is almost certainly a lowball offer, and once accepted, there is no renegotiation. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible in claims – it is their business model and how they make a profit. Insurance adjusters count on accident victims either wanting a quick settlement or desperate for money to pay their mounting medical bills and personal expenses if they cannot work due to the collision. Meanwhile, the accident victim is out of luck if it turns out their injuries are far more serious and life-changing than they initially believed.
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Ellis Injury Law can help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. Over the past quarter-century, our dedicated attorneys have won over $350 million in personal injury settlements and verdicts for our clients.
Car Accident Damages
In California, car accident compensation, or damages, is divided into two different types: special damages and general damages. The former consists of economic damages and proving them is relatively straightforward. Special damages may include:
- Medical expenses, current, and future
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Lost earning capacity
General damages are non-economic and more subjective. Assigning a specific dollar value is more complex. General damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lowered quality of life
California does not place a cap on damages awarded for pain and suffering in motor vehicle accidents. Pain and suffering are not limited to physical injury, although non-economic damages are more likely awarded when injuries are more readily verifiable due to medical tests, X-rays, and other objective measures. It is not unusual for a person to suffer PTSD or other serious psychological afflictions after a severe car accident, even if there is little or no evidence of a physical injury. In such situations, it is wise for the accident victim to undergo mental health counseling so that a medical professional may testify as to the impairment experienced.
When the driver responsible for the crash has behaved in a particularly reckless or egregious manner, a jury may award punitive damages. Such damages are meant to punish the defendant and set an example that such behavior is intolerable. However, punitive damages are relatively rare, since the defendant must act in a truly despicable manner. Unlike some states, California does not impose a cap on punitive damages.
There is really no way to tell the value of a car accident case until the person is finished with their medical treatment and they have either recovered or reached maximum medical improvement. This means the individual is not expected to recover significantly beyond that point. When the accident victim has recovered or reached maximum medical improvement, a clear picture emerges of whether they can return to work, impairment levels, and future medical needs relating to the accident.
A personal injury lawyer knows a fair settlement amount for the types of injuries suffered and your ongoing requirements. For example, some accident victims may need special equipment or assistive devices, or vehicle or home modification. Those with permanent disabilities relating to the accident may no longer live independently and need constant caregiving. Others may no longer have the ability to perform the job held before the accident.
Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you know was injured in a motor vehicle accident because of another party’s negligence or recklessness, contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer at Ellis Injury Law. We offer complimentary consultations, so call us today or contact us online to schedule an appointment. The majority of cases are settled, but we will take your case to trial if the insurance company does not agree to a reasonable offer. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win.