Because car accident injury claims are very common, insurance companies and plaintiff’s lawyers usually have an idea about the range of what the insurance company will pay in settlement. For example, if your injury involves a whiplash, and you have treated with an orthopedist for 3 months at a cost of $2,500, followed by physical therapy, and the damage to your car was $3,000, your claim will likely have a settlement value in the $7,500 to $12,500 range.
- If your injuries involve broken bones, or if your injuries have resulted in a permanent impairment or if you have lost income capability, you might be looking at settlement offers in the low to mid six figures. If your injury involves paralysis or will require a life care plan, the potential value of the case could be much higher.
- If you had complications with treatment, or if you missed 3 weeks of work, or if you had a pre-existing condition that was made worse, or if the other driver has very high coverage limits and a bad driving record, that range would likely be higher.
- If the doctor you treated with has a marginal reputation, or if you were partially responsible for the accident, or if you had no lost wages, or if the insurance company is a high risk carrier offering minimum coverage, the range would be lower.
Shortly after receiving notice of an accident, the negligent driver’s insurance company makes a determination about the likely settlement range and sets aside funds (called a reserve) to cover a future settlement.
The factors considered by the insurance company in setting aside a reserve for settlement include:
- who was liable in the accident – was their insured (the other driver) completely negligent or is negligence an issue? What does the police report say?
- how much property damage was done to both cars – this indicates the speed of the vehicles at the time of the accident
- was an ambulance called – this suggests a more serious injury
- are you missing work because of pain, headaches or other injury
- what type of medical treatment are you obtaining – medical care from an MD, physical therapy, chiropractic?
- how much coverage does their insured carry? Higher coverage means more possible exposure in a jury verdict. Note, as well, that if you have uninsured or underinsured coveage, then the settlement value could be higher
- what county would a lawsuit be filed – jury verdicts vary widely based on the potential jury pool in the county where the defendant lives.
As you can see, a number of known factors go into settlement. If we choose to take your case to a jury, you could be looking at a much higher recovery, but you would be taking the risk that a jury might undervalue your claim as well.
Since we know how insurance companies evaluate injury claims, we can help you by advising you regarding the decisions you can control. We can’t change the facts of your case, but we can help you avoid making decisions that could damage the settlement value of your case.
If you would like to learn more about the settlement value of your case, please contact our office at 770-393-4985 or reach out to us by email using the form on this page.