Every year in the United States, more than 4.4 million people are seriously injured in car accidents. These accidents can affect your ability to work, your quality of life, and your personal relationships.
Compensation can’t undo the damage of your accident. Nevertheless, it can provide valuable financial stability while you recover. Because of this, a lot of people hire a car accident lawyer in Houston, Texas, after an accident.
They can help you get a settlement for your injuries. So, when it comes to car accident settlements, how much should you accept? Understanding this will ensure you get a fair settlement from the liable party or their insurers.
Read on to find out when you should and shouldn’t accept a car accident settlement.
What is a Car Accident Settlement?
The outcome of a successful car accident claim is a settlement. This is a type of financial compensation paid by the liable party or an insurance company.
Your settlement should reflect the severity of your accident and cover the damages it caused.
When you submit a claim you can also submit a settlement amount. If you receive an offer for your whole settlement then you can accept this. You will need to sign some paperwork to close the claim and the money will be sent directly to you.
However, the insurer or liable party does not always accept this the first time around. They may counter with a lower settlement offer.
So what should you do when this happens? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Should You Reject a Settlement?
If you receive a lower settlement offer it is important to think carefully before accepting it. You are perfectly within your rights to reject the offer or make a counteroffer.
There are several reasons why you should do this before accepting an offer.
The Insurance Company May Be Trying to Negotiate With You
Most insurance companies will try to negotiate settlements rather than accepting them outright. After all, this could save them thousands of dollars.
An insurer may make you an offer way below the amount stated in your claim. They don’t necessarily expect you to accept this.
Instead, they may do this to persuade you to lower your offer slightly or meet in the middle. This is a clever negotiation tactic that tricks car accident victims every year.
The Settlement Offer Might Not Reflect Your Damages
It can be tempting to accept the first settlement, especially if you are struggling financially. This means that you will receive your settlement as soon as possible.
However, your settlement should cover all of the damages caused by your accident. If it does not do this then you have received a poor deal.
The average car accident settlement in America is around $20,000. So if, for example, an insurance company offers you $5,000 you could lose out on thousands of dollars.
This isn’t just unfair. It may also mean that you struggle financially after your accident. Securing a decent settlement will ensure that this doesn’t happen.
You Can Only Bring a Car Accident Claim Once
Legally, you are only allowed to make one claim against a liable party or insurance company for your accident.
This means that after you accept a settlement, you will not be allowed to ask for any more money. Before receiving the money, you will have to sign a waiver agreeing to this.
Because of this, it is important to think carefully before accepting a settlement that seems too low. If you do this too hastily, you won’t be able to go back and change your mind later.
Calculating Your Damages
Taking the time to calculate your settlement will make you more aware of what you are owed. So you’ll be able to identify when an offer is unfair. It also means you’ll be able to create a strong case to support your claim.
To do this, you need to look at the damages caused by your accident. There are two main areas you need to look at.
As the name suggests, economic damages focus on the financial impact of your accident. This can include:
- Medical bills for your injuries (including treatment, surgeries, and follow-up care)
- The cost of equipment you had to buy or hire after your accident
- The cost of installing equipment (such as ramps or support bars) in your home
- The cost of repairing your car
- The cost of replacing your car, if it was written off in the accident
- Income lost due to the time you took off work during your recovery
- Loss of income for work you can no longer do as a result of your injuries
- The cost of hiring help after your accident
- The cost of therapy after your accident
- The cost of damage to your property inside your vehicle or at the accident site
This can all add up very quickly. The average medical bill for a car accident victim, for example, is $57,000.
You may be able to recover some of these damages using your own insurance policy. However, including them in your settlement means that you don’t have to make a claim. So you won’t have to pay your excess or risk your premiums increasing.
Car accidents don’t just cause financial damage. In fact, their non-financial impact can be much more long-lasting and difficult to recover from.
Because of this, you can also claim non-economic damages after an accident. These can include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement or impairment caused by your injuries
- Emotional distress caused by your accident (including depression, anxiety, and PTSD)
- Reduced enjoyment of life
- Damage to personal relationships caused by your accident
- Anxiety about driving again after your accident
If you lose a loved one in a car accident, you can also include loss of companionship in your non-economic damages.
Finding Evidence to Support Your Damages
When you make your claim you will need to provide evidence of who was liable for the accident. Or you may need to prove that you were not at fault when making a claim with your own insurer.
However, you also need to provide evidence to support your damages.
For example, you should provide copies of your medical bills and car repairs. If you have not had your car repaired yet, you can provide quotes from mechanics detailing the work it needs.
You can also provide dates taken off work with or without sick pay after your accident. You can use this to prove your loss of income.
Proving non-economic damages can be slightly more challenging. After all, these damages are not always quantifiable in the same way that economic damages are. They also don’t leave a clear paper trail.
Testimony from loved ones and professional therapists can show the emotional impact of your accident. You could also submit messages, emails, or phone records of conversations detailing your mental anguish.
Your lawyer may also look for behavior that demonstrates this. For example, you can help them compile a record of work or social events missed after your accident. This all helps to build a picture of how your accident impacted you emotionally.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer to Help
They will review the details of your case and let you know whether or not you have a claim to make. They’ll then:
- Help you calculate how much you are owed in damages
- Collect evidence to support your case
- Make sure that your paperwork is filed on time
- Represent you when meeting with the liable party or insurance company
- Help you determine whether or not a settlement offer is fair
This means that you can focus your time and energy on recovering from your accident.
How to Choose a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston
If you are going to hire a lawyer then you want to find the best car accident lawyer in Houston. In that case, you should look for a lawyer who:
- Has experience dealing with car accident claims
- Has a great success rate for their cases
- Has amazing client reviews
- Responds quickly and communicates clearly
- You feel comfortable working with
This will ensure that you find the best possible car accident lawyer to handle your case.
Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
As you can see, accepting your first car accident settlement could mean you miss out on what you are really owed. Because of this, it is important to speak to a car accident lawyer in Texas before accepting a settlement.
They will help you calculate exactly what you are owed in damages. They can also help you decide whether or not a settlement is fair.
So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with a car accident lawyer in Houston today. We’re happy to help.