What To Ask For In A Car Accident Settlement
Make sure you demand the compensation you deserve after your crash
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injury-related expenses. In many cases, this compensation will be paid to you in the form of a settlement offer.
As the name implies, a settlement offer is intended to resolve a legal matter. In this particular case, your settlement offer should resolve all legal matters between you (the injured party) and the at-fault driver and their insurance company. By accepting a settlement offer, you agree to not take legal action against the at-fault party in the future.
But what can you ask for as part of your settlement offer? What expenses are covered? Who decides the value of your settlement? Below, you can find the answers to these questions and many more provided by Houston attorneys with extensive experience dealing with car accident settlement claims throughout Texas.
What is the average settlement claim?
Many articles have been written about how much money injury victims can expect to receive for their settlement claim. Martindale-Nolo Research conducted a study in 2017 concerning the average amount of money injury victims receive in a settlement.
The study found that the average settlement amount was $52,900. However, such figures vary widely. In particular, more than 50 percent of people in the study received just $3,000 to $25,000 for their settlement. More specifically:
- percent received less than $3,000
- percent received $3,001 to $10,000
- percent received $10,001 to $25,000
- 10 percent received $25,001 to $75,000
- 16 percent received more than $75,000
These figures illustrate that the total value of a settlement claim can vary widely. That’s why it’s important to talk to a lawyer near you soon after your accident to learn more about how much your settlement could potentially be worth.
What should I ask for in a settlement?
A settlement offer is intended to cover all injury-related expenses. This includes expenses immediately after your accident as well as all future expenses. As a result, your settlement request should include all current and anticipated expenses, including:
- Ambulance fees
- Vehicle repair and replacement costs
- Emergency medical treatment
- Diagnostic medical tests
- Surgical procedures
- Hospital fees
- Follow-up doctor’s appointments
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- In-home medical care
- Replacement income during your recovery
- Lost future income if you cannot return to work
- Pain and suffering in certain circumstances
Each accident is different. As a result, what you ask for as part of your settlement offer will depend on the unique circumstances involving your injury. What matters most is that you should be fully compensated for all your expenses.
Who decides how much I receive?
In general, the at-fault party’s insurance company often makes an initial settlement offer. Insurance officials often decide how much to offer you for your injury-related expenses. Many insurance companies use their own unique formulas when determining the value of your settlement offer. As a result, the value of your offer will often vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- Which insurance company is handling your claim
- The severity of your injuries
- The length of your recovery
Many insurance companies are secretive about their process for determining how much money to offer injury victims. But in many cases, insurance companies offer less than the total value of all injury-related expenses. That’s because many insurance providers do not take into account future expenses when determining a settlement claim.
Can I negotiate for more money?
Just because the at-fault driver’s insurance company makes a lowball settlement offer does not mean you have to accept that offer. You have the right to ask for additional money and negotiate a better settlement.
However, doing so on your own can often be extremely challenging. That’s because insurance adjusters, negotiators and their attorneys often have years of experience dealing with such complex legal cases. As a result, they’re often familiar with the rules and regulations governing settlement claims and thoroughly understand how the settlement process works.
Having an experienced attorney on your side can help level the playing field when negotiating with insurance companies and their attorneys. Your lawyer can negotiate a settlement offer on your behalf and demand additional compensation designed to cover all your injury-related expenses.
Can I turn down a low settlement offer?
You have the right to reject a settlement offer and request additional compensation. If an insurance company official says otherwise, ask them to explain why and to cite which state or federal laws prohibit them from offering you additional money.
If you do not want to deal directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf if you decide to reject a settlement offer. Your attorney can then request additional money and negotiate with the insurance company in an effort to obtain a better settlement offer designed to pay for all your injury-related expenses.
What are my options if I turn down a settlement offer?
If you decide to reject a lowball settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you have several options:
- Ask for additional compensation
- Negotiate a better settlement offer
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault party’s insurance company
The last option can be challenging, but may be the most effective way to obtain the compensation you deserve for all your injury-related expenses. However, it’s important to remember that you only have a limited amount of time to take legal action. In Texas, the deadline (known as the statute of limitations) for filing a lawsuit is two years from the date of your accident. If you miss that deadline, you could miss out on your opportunity to obtain the compensation you deserve.
To learn more about your legal options, talk to a car accident attorney at Smith & Hassler in Houston. A lawyer at our firm can explain how the settlement process works and can answer any questions you might have about your potential claim. Simply contact us and schedule a free case evaluation.
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