When it comes to discussing the damages available in a car accident claim, a Houston car accident lawyer usually meets with two approaches. There are clients who are drastically undervaluing their damages. And there are clients who seek millions of dollars in compensation.
In both cases, the lawyer needs to explain that a car accident claim has the role to compensate injured persons for their actual damages, both economic and non-economic. There are no caps on recovering the financial losses you sustained as a result of a car crash.
At the same time, filing a claim is not like winning the lottery. No insurance company will pay more than what you deserve to collect – after fighting hard to get that amount reduced as much as possible. Likewise, if the case goes to court, a jury will not award you more money than you lost as a consequence of being in an accident.
The Comparative Negligence Principle Will Further Reduce the Car Accident Claim Value
Also, you must remember that Texas applies the comparative negligence principle to all personal injury cases, including car accidents. Your percentage of fault will be determined for two purposes:
- Checking if you are eligible to file a claim
- Reducing your claim amount by the percentage representing your fault.
Thus, even if you are eligible to collect damages, you will not get the full amount specified in your car accident claim. The reason for this is that cases when one driver is 100% at fault and the other 0% at fault are extremely rare.
Even an experienced Houston car accident lawyer cannot ultimately persuade an insurance adjuster that you were not at all at fault for your crash. Moreover, prolonging negotiations too much will serve the insurer’s purposes. The statute of limitations of 2 years will run out, and they will deny your claim – leaving you with no other legal options.
Other Factors that Determine the Settlement Amount You May Collect
A Houston car accident lawyer will approach the evaluation of damages in a realistic manner. It is the only way of ensuring a successful outcome for your case. Insurance adjusters are very good at estimating damages, too.
Thus, if the car accident claim amount is too high, they will deny your claim. If you file a lawsuit, they will argue that you cannot justify the money you demand. Thus, you are simply a greedy person who wants to make money off their back.
Here are the factors a lawyer will look at when calculating your damages.
1. The Total Economic Damages
Economic damages represent the totality of current and future financial losses you suffer as a result of the car accident. They consist of:
- Hospital bills
- Medical treatments, prescriptions, and therapies
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Costs for long-term care and assistive devices (if necessary).
There is no cap on economic damages. This is why some accident victims collect millions in damages. They suffered life-changing injuries and were left with permanent disabilities. Thus, their medical care bills and lifelong nursing care costs are extremely high.
2. The Value of Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are intangible. You cannot bring bills and receipts indicating your level of pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life. However, there are specific formulas for calculating these damages in a car accident claim.
And the value is directly influenced by the severity of the injuries. A person who will need a wheelchair for the rest of their life arguably suffers more than someone who only needs a cast for a few weeks and will be able to walk without problems afterward.
As much as your Houston car accident lawyer may try, there is no way of persuading an insurance adjuster or a jury that you deserve half a million dollars in non-economic damages for a simple leg fracture and a few bruises.
3. The Available Insurance Coverage
Some drivers are prudent and purchase sufficient insurance coverage to keep them out of trouble in case of an accident. But most Texas drivers only carry the minimum required coverage:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person
- $60,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage.
The insurance company is obliged to pay damages up to the limit of the coverage amount, and not a dollar more. Thus, if your damages exceed the coverage amount, you will have to sue the at-fault driver for the difference.
And this leads us to the next factor that determines the value of your car accident claim.
4. The Other Driver’s Financial Position
When you win a car accident lawsuit, the court will hand you an enforceable judgment, not the money. It is up to you to collect it from the defendant. In some cases, this is next to impossible.
You have to realize that underinsured or uninsured drivers barely afford even the cheapest insurance premiums. They make the minimum wage, drive an old car, and do not own the house they live in.
Thus, you cannot seize any valuable assets to cover the damages awarded by the jury. Garnishing their wages means waiting years until the full value of your car accident claim is fully paid. For this reason, a Houston car accident lawyer will advise you to sue only if there are chances of collecting from the at-fault driver.
5. Whether the At-Fault Driver Was on the Job
Finally, you stand more chances of recovering the maximum compensation amount in a car accident claim if you were hit by a driver traveling for job purposes. If they are an employee, not an independent contractor, their employer is vicariously liable for the accident.
However, this is true only if the driver was on the clock, not off duty. If your lawyer finds that they were traveling as part of their job duties, they will include the driver’s employer in your insurance claim.
Businesses have sufficient insurance coverage to protect themselves against various types of liabilities. Thus, your lawyer will be able to negotiate a fair settlement amount.
Let an Experienced Lawyer Negotiate Your Car Accident Claim!
Our Houston injury lawyers specialize in all kinds of car accident claims – from drunk driving accidents to truck crashes. We know how to calculate your damages accurately and how to negotiate with insurance adjusters.
For this reason, you should let your lawyer estimate your claim value and assist you during the claim process. The first step is to schedule a free case review with us. We will analyze the available evidence and determine if you have a valid case.
If your claim has merit, we will represent you on a contingency fee basis and collect our fees after we win your settlement. Call us at 346-22-1821 to schedule your initial, risk-free appointment now!