Predicting what a case is worth can be misleading since no two accidents are exactly alike. However, when you are sitting across from a client whose life has been torn apart, this question is often the first to be asked. There is a difference between what the case is worth and how much the client will be offered by a defendant or insurer, and a car accident lawyer works hard to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
What Factors Affect How Much Your Case Is Worth?
There are specific accident factors that affect the final financial compensation you can receive. These are:
- Accident details: Each type of accident has specific features that affect the financial cost such as how many vehicles were involved and who was responsible for the crash. Speed plays a large part since the faster the vehicles are traveling, the greater the damage and injuries.
- Insurance: This is a critical factor since the amount and type of coverage both you and the other party has will affect how much you receive. For instance, if the at-fault driver has no insurance or inadequate insurance to cover the costs of the accident, that means that the injured party may only be able to recoup partial damages at best. It is possible to file a lawsuit against the driver in such a situation. However, for the most part, those who drive without insurance rarely have enough means to cover the cost.
On the other hand, if the injured driver has Medigap coverage, they would be able to use that to pay their medical costs. Collision coverage, something that all drivers who lease or hold a loan on their vehicle must have, would also cover damages. If you use your own insurance, you may be liable for a deductible.
- Injuries: It stands to reason that the intensity and nature of one’s injuries have a huge effect on the compensation an injured party will need to recover. Some injuries, such as abdominal trauma, can be life threatening and require surgery. Others, such a spinal cord damage, can require extensive rehabilitation or care for the remainder of the person’s life.
- Evidence: When determining how much a case is worth, knowing that there is adequate evidence to prove that the other party is at fault is critical. Without supporting proof, it is virtually impossible to win. In short, without proof of negligence, the case will go nowhere. An injury lawyer will investigate the crash to find evidence that proves negligence in his or her client’s case.
Comparative Fault When Calculating the Worth of a Claim
Sometimes, the cause of the accident is not that clear cut, and both drivers may be partially at fault. California laws concerning negligence operate under the doctrine of comparative fault. This doctrine says that if two people are each responsible for an accident to varying degrees, each party is able to be compensated minus the percentage of their own negligence. Look at it this way, say a driver was traveling along the highway at 55 mph when the car in front of them suddenly slowed for no apparent reason.
The vehicle to the rear is unable to stop and hits the lead car, causing the driver whiplash-related injuries. Investigation shows that the lead driver was looking for something that had fallen on the floor of his vehicle, and this caused the car to slow down. The rear driver was traveling at 65 mph, despite a speed limit of 55. Who is to blame?
In this case, both drivers are to blame. The lead driver should not have taken his or her focus off driving and pulled over to the side of the road to locate the fallen object. The driver to the rear should have been traveling at the speed limit, making it easier to stop. In addition, the driver to the rear should have kept an adequate distance to stop between their vehicle and the lead car so that even at the posted speed limit the vehicle could have stopped in time.
Who Decides the Extent and Existence of Negligence?
It depends if the case is in court or not. If the parties are trying to reach a settlement, they will decide a degree of negligence they each find acceptable. Sometimes this is possible and on other occasions it is not. It depends to a great extent on who is involved and the skill of the negotiating attorney. On the other hand, if the case is in court, it is the jury that will determine the percentage of negligence based on the facts as presented to them by counsel.
What Is the Next Step in Determining the Damages?
The next step involves tabulating the economic damages the accident caused. These are compensatory damages the injured party suffered due to the cost of medical care, lost wages and property damage. While debts may be increasing by the day, it is best to calculate these damages after the medical treatment has reached the point of maximal improvement. This means that despite additional treatment, the injured party has improved as much as possible. If a settlement is reached before this point, the plaintiff or injured party will not be able to claim any further compensation associated with the accident.
Calculating Non Economic Damages
Once the amount of financial compensation is calculated, the next step is to determine how much the accident affected the injured person physically, psychologically and emotionally. These damages are called noneconomic damages and differ from case to case. There is no set way of achieving this. Rather, each case must be carefully reviewed, often with the help of various experts, to determine how much damage the person has suffered and place that into a viable financial interpretation of the loss.
Free Review of Your Case With Attorney David Azizi
Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer David Azizi has handled numerous car accident cases, extracting the compensatory damages the client deserves. He uses his years of experience in fighting for their rights. From investigating how the accident happened and gathering evidence to building a strong case, David secures what is needed to present effective arguments against the defendant. Call him today if you have been in a car accident in or around Los Angeles.
You can reach him at (800) 991-5292 or by using his online contact form. If you want to get started before the free consultation, go to his car accident settlement calculator to enter the losses you have suffered. David will be able to use them during your case review.