How Much Is a Car Accident Claim Worth?

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The blue lights are no longer flashing, and the sirens are quiet. The cars have been towed away and the glass swept to the gutter. In the aftermath of a serious car accident, a lot of worries come later.

Financial concerns are a big part of the equation. The loss column adds up quickly – medical bills, time off work, a damaged or totaled vehicle, and the possibility of future expenses from injuries and other suffering.

Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer after a car accident to help you navigate the insurance claims process. But how much is a car accident claim worth?

No fixed or average settlement amount applies universally to car accident claims in Wisconsin. Determining how much a car accident claim is worth depends on factors including the severity of injuries, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, potential future expenses from injuries and time off work, and pain and suffering resulting from injuries.

Settlement amounts can range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand or even millions of dollars for more severe cases.

Our team of experienced Madison car accident lawyers at Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm has years of experience in estimating how much a car accident claim is worth.

For us, there is no cookie-cutter solution. Every claim is personal. Our highest priority is to work with you to secure you the best compensation to allow you to recover your health and peace of mind.

Won’t Car Insurance Pay My Claim? Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

After a car accident, most people figure the process is simple. Just file a personal injury claim with your insurance company. However, investigating and evaluating a car accident can be complex. A personal injury lawyer is an important ally in your corner, especially when a crash involves significant injuries, disputes over liability, or multiple parties involved.

Typically, insurance companies start the claims process by reviewing your estimate of what it will cost to repair your vehicle. Depending on your coverage, you may be reimbursed for those costs after you pay a deductible.

If the repair costs are too high, then the insurance company might total your vehicle, in which case you could recover compensation for its current market value. This also depends on your policy and coverage. But insurance companies often minimize payouts to protect their bottom line.

A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your compensation, including for damages not covered by your policy, like pain and suffering.

Additionally, an attorney can help you navigate your own insurance policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured or hit-and-run at-fault driver.

A lawyer can investigate the accident, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and work with accident reconstruction experts if necessary to determine liability. This is particularly important in states with comparative negligence laws.

Wisconsin follows a modified comparative negligence rule, meaning that if you are partially at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages, but your award may decrease by the percentage of fault assigned to you. If you are 51 percent or more at fault, you may not recover compensation.

When estimating how much a car accident claim is worth, a lawyer will work with healthcare providers to ensure your medical bills are appropriately handled and factored into your compensation. They can also calculate future medical costs and the potential long-term effects of your injuries.

An experienced car accident attorney knows injury-related expenses may continue to affect you for weeks, months, or years after a serious accident.

One of the most important things to remember when pursuing a car accident claim is that there are deadlines and legal requirements that must be met. For example, in Wisconsin, plaintiffs must file personal injury claims within three years of the injury.

The statute of limitations is the clear and defined timeframe for bringing legal claims. After the statute of limitations has expired, the claim cannot be pursued in court. An attorney can guide you to avoid these errors.

Most car accident claims settle, but if your case goes to court, hire an attorney. They will represent you in court, present evidence, and argue on your behalf, protecting your rights throughout the legal process.

What Type of Compensation Could I Expect by Filing a Claim?

Legal discussion on insurance claim policy with claims document folder in meeting room.

To determine what type of damages you can file for in your car accident claim, your lawyer will start by establishing fault. During an investigation of the car crash, your legal team will collect evidence like police reports, witness statements, driver statements, and any photographs and videos from the accident scene.

Lawyers also assess whether any of the parties involved violated any traffic laws or regulations. Violations can be strong indicators of fault.

In complex cases, lawyers may work with engineering or accident reconstruction experts. These experts use scientific principles to recreate the accident and determine factors like speed, braking, and vehicle positions at the time of the collision. Their expertise can establish liability.

Once you establish liability, your lawyer may file a claim usually seeking specific damages and general damages. In some cases, car accident lawyers will also file for punitive damages.

Specific Damages

Specific damages in a car accident claim usually are the specific financial losses and expenses incurred because of the accident.

These can include:

  • Medical expenses: This encompasses all medical bills related to the accident, including hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and rehabilitation.
  • Property damage: The cost to repair or replace your vehicle and any personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Lost income: If you couldn’t work due to your injuries, you may recover compensation for the income you lost during your recovery.
  • Disability or disfigurement: If the accident results in a long-term disability or disfigurement, you may recover compensation for the impact on your life and future earning potential.

General Damages

General damages in a car accident claim are non-economic losses that are not tied to specific financial expenses but are based on the intangible effects of the accident. General damages are more challenging to quantify than specific damages because they involve subjective factors.

General damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress you endured due to the accident and your injuries.
  • Emotional distress: This covers psychological and emotional trauma resulting from the accident, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: Compensation for the loss of the ability to participate in activities and enjoy life as you did before the accident.
  • Loss of consortium: Damages that can be claimed by a spouse or family member for the loss of companionship, care, and support from the injured party.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are a type of compensation that may be awarded in certain personal injury cases, including car accident claims.

Unlike specific and general damages, which are intended to compensate the victim for their losses and suffering, punitive damages punish the at-fault party for their egregious or intentional misconduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Courts award them for the defendant’s reckless, willful, or malicious actions.

Common situations involving punitive damages include cases involving drunk driving, intentional harm, or extreme negligence.

Wisconsin does set statutory limits on punitive damages at twice the amount of compensatory damages or $200,000, whichever is greater. These limits on punitive damages are subject to certain exceptions in cases involving specific types of misconduct, such as cases involving intentional torts, crimes, or where the defendant was convicted of a felony related to the conduct that led to the injuries.

Calculating Damages for Pain and Suffering

Lawyers typically use one of two methods to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident claim.

  1. Multiplier method: This method involves multiplying the total economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) by a certain factor.
  2. Per diem method: With this approach, your lawyer assigns a daily rate to your pain and suffering, often based on the nature and extent of your injuries. They then multiply this daily rate by the number of days you’ve suffered and are expected to suffer in the future.

There’s no fixed formula for calculating pain and suffering, and the approach used can vary depending on the circumstances of the case, the jurisdiction, and legal precedents. Lawyers may also consider factors like the impact of the injuries on your daily life, the degree of pain experienced, and the long-term consequences when determining the appropriate amount.

Calculating Damages for Future Expenses and Losses

Calculating future expenses and losses requires a thorough understanding of both legal principles and the specific details of your case.

Here’s an overview of how lawyers typically calculate these future costs in key areas:

  • Medical expenses: Your attorney will work with medical experts to assess the extent of your injuries and estimate future medical needs. This may include ongoing treatment, surgeries, therapy, and medication. They will consider the anticipated cost of these treatments and adjust for inflation over time.
  • Lost earnings: If your injuries prevent you from working or limit your future earning capacity, your lawyer will calculate the potential income you would have earned if not for the accident. They may consult vocational experts to determine the impact of your injuries on your ability to work and your earning potential.
  • Pain and suffering: To estimate future pain and suffering, your lawyer may consider the severity of your injuries, the prognosis provided by medical experts, and the impact of your injuries on your quality of life. They will also factor in how long you expect to endure pain and suffering.

In cases of severe injury, your lawyer may collaborate with life care planners. These experts create detailed plans outlining the ongoing medical care, assistive devices, and other necessities you’ll need in the future.

Lawyers also typically account for inflation and the time value of money when calculating future expenses and losses. They may use financial experts to determine appropriate adjustments and present-day values for future costs.

Lawyers will also usually check to see if there is a legal precedent for your claim, a previous case, or cases with similar circumstances to gauge how courts have awarded future expenses and losses. This can help establish a reasonable estimate.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm Today

Car Accident Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyer, William Pemberton

Did you suffer injuries after a car accident in Wisconsin? You don’t have to navigate the legal complexities alone. The car accident attorneys from Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm can assess your case and advocate for your rights, securing you the best compensation available for your injuries.

Our firm has the experience and knowledge to evaluate your claim and estimate how much your car accident claim is worth. We make it our priority to get to know our clients and their cases so we can best represent you. We have offices in Baraboo and Madison and represent clients throughout Wisconsin.

Arrange for a consultation with one of our competent personal injury lawyers by calling (608) 448-6242 or filling out our online contact form. There is no cost or obligation when you meet with us. Let us help you get back on the road to recovery.

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