None of us ever expects to be involved in a car accident, even though crashes occur every day. Take for example a recent accident in New Orleans which involved multiple vehicles and resulted in all three lanes of I-10 being closed for an extended period of time.
In accidents like this, there will be multiple drivers, and potentially passengers, who are trying to figure out what they need to do next. One of the challenges those involved in the accident are going to face is getting compensated for the damages they suffered in the accident.
How Damages Are Calculated After an Accident
Damages are calculated based on several factors. One of these is the severity of the accident victim’s injuries. However, other issues can result in a more significant settlement, including:
- Medical bills — depending on the severity of an injury suffered by a victim, medical bills can mount up quickly. For example, consider that a simple x-ray can result in a bill as high as $1,599 according to New Choice Health. Multiple x-rays can add up quickly and if a victim has no medical coverage, they should not have to suffer these financial losses due to someone’s negligence.
- Car repairs — when someone is in a collision, the damage to their vehicle can be significant. Depending on the severity of the injury, they may have to replace their vehicle which can be challenging. Accident victims can expect to pay up to $10,000 for serious accidents which cause damage to the vehicle’s frame or engine according to Experian.
- Lost wages — according to Zip Recruiter, the average hourly wage in New Orleans is $18 per hour. A victim who suffers an injury which results in their being out of work even for a week can result in significant lost wages. If a victim is unable to return to work, they will lose even more in wages over their lifetime.
These are only a few of the items which an accident victim may seek compensation for following a roadway accident.
Factors That Affect Settlement Amounts
Just as each car accident is unique, each victim is unique. Even when a car accident is similar in nature to another, it does not mean that the settlement for the accident will be the same. Here are some of the reasons why there are discrepancies in settlement amounts:
- Victim’s ages — a car accident victim who is elderly may suffer a minor injury but may have complications due their being more fragile in the later stages of their life. For example, someone who is 30 is going to recover faster from a broken bone than someone who is in their 70s.
- Speed of the crash — let’s be honest about this, the faster the cars were going when they collided, the more serious an injury a victim is going to sustain because of a crash. The type and size of the vehicles will also play a role in the severity of the injuries.
- Earning power/capacity — when someone is a full-time employee versus a part-time employee, their earning capacity is different. Students and those who work part-time will have less earnings loss as a result of an accident.
- Insurance coverage — Louisiana requires drivers to maintain auto insurance liability coverage known as 15/30/25 according to Policy Genius. This means $15,000 is for bodily injury to a single person, $30,000 per accident for injuries, and $25,000 for property damage. In many cases, this may be the maximum a victim can collect for damages.
It is important to understand the importance of carefully documenting all losses following a car accident and to seek guidance from a skilled car accident attorney. Because every situation is unique, there may be additional factors which could impact a settlement.
How to Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Insurance company negotiations can be complicated. Depending on the accident, there may be multiple people who are ultimately responsible for a victim’s injuries which can further complicate negotiations with insurance companies.
A car accident victim who has suffered only a minor injury where there is minimum damage to their vehicle may find negotiations easy. However, in most cases, there will be a back and forth because the insurer for the at-fault party will not want to pay out on a claim. Remember, insurers lose money when they pay claims.
For most accident victims, it is not a good idea to attempt to negotiate with an insurer on their own. Since Louisiana has only a one-year statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit following an accident, a victim can run out of time to file a suit if the negotiation with an insurer drags on too long.
There are some things an accident victim should be wary of when discussing the accident with the insurer:
- Never provide a recorded statement
- Have all documents they are asked to sign reviewed by an accident injury attorney
- Have their insurance policy reviewed by an attorney to determine what coverage they have
- Have the accident report reviewed to determine if it provides clear information regarding who was at fault for the accident.
Insurance company adjusters will likely contact an accident victim within a few days of an accident and may offer a fast settlement. In the event a victim has suffered a serious injury, they should be wary of a fast settlement offer because once they accept the offer, the insurer no longer has any obligation to pay anything further to the victim, regardless of what additional losses they may be able to show.
What Is Considered Fair and Reasonable Compensation?
A fair and reasonable settlement would include compensation for injuries, damage to the victim’s property and the income a victim lost while recovering from their injuries. There are certain injuries, such as those which result in a permanent disability or disfigurement which are specialized and would likely result in a higher settlement.
One thing every accident victim should be aware of is that an insurance adjuster has a “range” where they are approved to offer a settlement. Keep in mind, when an initial settlement is offered, they are likely to start at the lower end to keep their bottom line stronger. Property damage, pain and suffering, lost income, and special damages should all be part of a fair and reasonable settlement.
Complex Accident Cases May Require Legal Assistance
When someone has suffered an injury in a roadway accident, one of the best things they can do to ensure they are treated fairly is to seek guidance from an experienced accident injury attorney. This is the best way to make sure they get the best possible settlement for their injuries. If you have been involved in a car accident, call the firm today at 504-526-2222 or contact us online so that you can set up a consultation.