If you are like many auto accident victims, you want to know how much you can expect to receive when your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company is resolved. It may be frustrating when your attorney gives you a range, but tells you the final amount will depend on the facts of your case and other mysterious factors. Unfortunately, this is true. Your attorney cannot tell you exactly what your bottom line settlement will be. However, there are certain guidelines that affect whether your claim for compensation is stronger or weaker.
Important Factors That Could Affect the Amount of Your Settlement
You can get some sense of the amount of your settlement by calculating your out-of-pocket expenses, such as your car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages that you already incurred and you will have in the future. You are also entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering damages, but there is no set amount for this. This is one of many factors that are not numerical, but can impact on the amount you receive. Some of the important factors that can give you an idea as to whether you are at the high end or low end of your settlement range include:
Consistency in your version of events. You could tell a number of people how the accident occurred. These include the police officer, emergency medical technicians, physicians, nurses, and other medical providers at the hospital, your doctor, and your insurance adjuster. Once you make your claim, you could explain everything again for the negligent driver’s insurance adjuster, his attorney, and the jury. His adjuster will compare your statements to determine if there are any inconsistencies in what you claim happened in these various statements. While you may never say the exact same thing each time, you want to remain as consistent as possible. If you are, the adjuster will perceive you as a strong witness, increasing the amount of your compensation. If there are a lot of inconsistencies in your story, you may need to be realistic and accept a lesser settlement.
Strong evidence of the other driver’s fault. If you have strong evidence that the other driver was negligent, this will play an important role in swaying the insurance adjuster in your favor and increasing your settlement award. What is strong evidence? A police report with the police officer’s conclusions as to the other driver’s fault and that a citation was issued could be extremely persuasive. In addition, surveillance footage that shows how the accident happened can be helpful. In certain types of crashes, such as a rear-end collision or left turn crash, the driver may be presumed to be at fault.
Your own fault. The District of Columbia follows the harsh pure contributory negligence doctrine, which means that you are entitled to no compensation if you were even one percent at fault in causing your crash. If your own negligence is an issue, this could weaken your case and make negotiations more challenging.
Consistent doctor’s statements. You will have to provide the insurance adjuster with your medical records to document your injuries. He will look very carefully at your doctor’s opinions to compare to how injured you claim you are. If they are inconsistent, this could make it look like you are exaggerating your injuries and significantly reduce the value of your claim.
Your post-crash actions. How consistent your actions are with the injuries you claim to have suffered has a vital role in the strength of your case. The insurance adjuster could search your social media sites or hire a private investigator to watch you at various times in the claim process. If you are doing things that would be impossible given how you claim to be hurt, this will obviously have a negative effect on your ability to receive all that you deserve.
An experienced car accident attorney should be able to give you an idea of the specific factors that could influence the final resolution of your claim. Start an online chat with the legal team at Kennedy Hodges, LLP, to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.