Car accidents are unfortunately common and can lead to severe or even lethal injury. These injuries can leave you out of work and facing costly medical bills. You deserve compensation for your injuries if they were caused by another driver’s negligence or recklessness. The best way to achieve this compensation is through a car accident lawsuit.
Car accident lawsuits range in length depending on the severity of the injuries and the number of parties involved. If you are successful in court, you could win compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among other considerations.
You may receive an offer from the other side’s insurance company to settle your claim in exchange for payment upfront. A number of factors go into a settlement offer, and you should always consult with an experienced auto accident attorney before taking any action that might deprive you of your right to have your case heard in court.
How Long Do Car Accident Lawsuits Take?
It is hard to predict how long your car accident lawsuit will take to resolve. We can provide some statistics on the “average” car accident lawsuit, but you should always speak with a car accident attorney if you are concerned about how long your lawsuit will take to resolve.
Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, the nature of the accident, and the number of parties involved in the lawsuit, a given case may settle within months. In the simplest of cases, resolution may occur within weeks, though few car accidents are that simple. The majority of car accident cases are settled between 12 and 18 months after the accident itself.
Most personal injury lawsuits, including car accident lawsuits, are settled during or immediately after the discovery phase. The discovery phase is the time immediately before a trial where lawyers from both sides compile evidence for the case. Since car accident lawsuits are unfortunately quite common, experienced attorneys will often be able to determine reasonable settlement amounts during this time, and the two sides will most likely be able to come to an equitable agreement. Car accident injury victims who are not represented by experienced counsel may find it difficult to keep up in negotiations and can sometimes be taken advantage of by the other side’s insurance company.
Many car accident plaintiffs decide to forgo their opportunity to bring a lawsuit out of fear that they can’t afford a lawyer during such a long battle. However, most car accident injury attorneys will work using contingency fee agreements. This is a fee structure where the law firm earns its payment as a percentage of what the plaintiff receives, either in settlement or court verdict. With contingency fees, the lawyer does not get paid unless the client wins.
How Are Damages Calculated in Car Accident Lawsuits?
If you are considering filing a car accident injury lawsuit, you are probably wondering how much money you could win if you are successful. Each case is unique, so the best way to assess what you stand to gain is to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer about your specific case. Damages are calculated based on the harm the victim suffers in the accident. These harms could be both economic and non-economic.
Economic damages cover the direct financial consequences of the accident and your injuries. Damages will primarily account for expensive medical treatment, such as surgery, ambulance fees, hospital stays, prescription medication, specialist appointments, or rehabilitative physical therapy. You could even be compensated for hospital parking and transportation, so be sure to keep a record of all of these costs.
Economic damages also include the consequences of any time at work that you miss. If your injuries prevent you from working, you could obtain compensation for lost wages or even paid time off that you took while recovering. If your injuries have a long-term or indefinite impact on your ability to fulfill your job requirements, your damage calculations may include your decreased earning potential and missed promotion opportunities.
Conversely, non-economic damages cover the harms that do not translate directly into expenses. These damages are meant to compensate the victim for the pain and suffering that they are likely to experience as a result of the accident and injuries. Chronic pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety are all compensable as non-economic damages.
What Is a Reasonable Settlement for a Car Accident Lawsuit?
You may be getting sick of hearing that each case is different and therefore hard to predict, but this is the truth – particularly with regard to settlement offers from the other party’s insurance provider. Insurance companies may try to settle your claim with you to avoid going to court. We strongly advise that you avoid signing anything that the insurance company offers you without first speaking to an experienced car accident lawyer.
To determine what they may offer in a settlement, insurance companies often apply a general formula to the case at hand. Most insurance companies use a formula called the “multiplier method,” which takes the estimated amount of economic damages in a case and multiplies it by a number in the range of 1 to 5 (the “multiplier”). The size of the multiplier depends on the severity of the injuries and how they impact the victim regarding non-economic damages. For instance, a victim with a broken arm might receive a settlement offer with a multiplier of 2, while a victim with a severed arm might get a multiplier of 4 or 5.
Settlement offers may be good in that they keep you from having to go through a trial and typically get you paid earlier than in a trial. However, insurance companies offer settlements to try to save money. As such, the offer you receive will likely represent a substantially lower figure than you might win in court. You are free to reject or counter any offer you receive, and you may decide to negotiate and agree on a settlement at any time before or during the trial. If you are worried about accepting less than you deserve in a settlement, speak to an experienced car accident attorney before going any further.