How Are Auto Accident Settlements Achieved?

Settlement amounts for car accidents can vary widely based on a number of factors.

Our Car Accident Attorneys in Dublin, Ohio will do their best to help you achieve the best settlement possible. We’ll keep fighting for you until we receive an offer from the defendant (or, more accurately, the defendant’s insurance company) that is fair. If a fair offer that is acceptable to you isn’t made, we are prepared to present your case to a jury.

If you have been involved in a car accident, tell us your story and allow us to work on your behalf. With one of our experienced personal injury attorneys by your side, you can avoid expending a substantial amount of time, effort, and aggravation dealing with insurance companies.

 

When should I settle?

When to settle you claim is very important. The insurance company will want you to settle your personal injury claim as quickly as possible, even before you have finished your medical treatment and are fully healed. They want quick settlements because it means there are less medical bills, lost wages, and other damages they have to pay for. Don’t fall for that trick. You should only settle when you know the full extent of your damages and (if possible) after you have fully recovered from the accident.  You do not want to settle before this point because you may not have discovered the true extent of your injuries.

Although you don’t want to settle your personal injury claim too early, it is very important to keep Ohio’s statute of limitations in mind. Under Ohio law, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If a case is not filed within those two years, you will never be legally allowed to pursue compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained in that accident. The statute of limitations does not mean that your case has to be settled within two years, just that you have to have a complaint filed in court by that time.

You cannot wait until the last minute to pursue a claim. Contact an Ohio personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident to ensure that your claim is started in time.

 

What types of damages am I entitled to receive?

A common question our clients have is “what types of things can I get compensated for?”. There are a wide variety of things you can receive compensation for after suffering injuries in an auto accident. Some of the most common are as follows:

 

Past and Future Medical Bills and Out of Pocket Expenses

You are entitled to compensation for any medical bills and out of pocket expenses incurred stemming from medical treatment provided for your accident-related injuries. Calculating past medical bills and out of pocket expenses is fairly easy if you stay organized. Receipts of paid bills or other evidence proving what you (or your insurance company) spent for the medical services you received is the most common way of proving past medical bills and expenses.

You can also be compensated for the cost of future medical care associated with your accident-related injuries.

 

Property Damage, Cost of Repair and Diminution in Value

In automobile accident cases, you will also be entitled to compensation for damage done to your vehicle. This typically would involve having the responsible party’s insurance company pay to have your car repaired. However, if the damage to your vehicle is significant enough, your vehicle may be declared a total loss. Under such circumstances, you would be entitled to the fair market value of your vehicle as of the date of the accident.

 

Lost Past and Future Income

If your injury kept you away from work, you are entitled to compensation for the wages you missed out on. If your injury causes you to not be able to do your job anymore or to take a lower-paying job, you can seek compensation for lost future earnings.

 

Pain and Suffering

Along with lost wages, medical expenses, and property damage, you've likely had to deal with physical pain and mental suffering because of the accident. Ohio law entitles you to compensation for your pain and suffering.

Keep in mind that, under Ohio law, there is a cap on how much compensation you can receive for pain and suffering. This is usually between $250,000 and $350,000. However, in extreme cases involving death and permanent severe injury, the cap may be raised or completely eliminated.

 

Loss of Consortium

Oftentimes the injuries someone sustains in an accident, and the pain-and-suffering that person is forced to endure as a result of those injuries, can negatively impact important relationships that person has. For example, the accident-related injuries may impair the person’s ability to engage in activities with his/her spouse that they once enjoyed doing together. The accident-related injuries may limit or completely prohibit that person from doing such things as exercising with a spouse, helping around the house, traveling, and engaging in a wide variety of other activities spouses normally do with each other. Sometimes the accident-related injuries limit a person’s ability to do things with their children. For example, the person may have been actively involved in such things as the children’s sports, activities, hobbies, and a wide variety of other things parents normally do with the children.

When accident-related injuries negatively impact a person’s spousal and/or parental relationships, the injured person’s spouse and children have a right to compensation.

An experienced auto accident attorney can help you estimate what you should receive in compensation.

 

How does an Auto Accident Settlement work?


Establish Liability

The very first thing you (and your attorney) need to do regarding your settlement is establish the liability of the responsible party. This is done by proving that someone else is legally responsible for causing the accident.

Proving liability is dependent on how the accident happened. In cases like a rear-end collision, proving liability is easy. However, in other cases, it can be difficult to prove who is liable. In the more difficult cases, it is important to do a significant amount of fact-gathering. This can be done by gathering photos of the accident scene and vehicles involved, as well as obtaining statements from the witnesses who saw the accident occur.

 

Proving Your Injuries and Damages

After the responsible party has been identified, you need to prove what injuries and damages you sustained because of the accident.

You must prove that your injuries were caused by the accident, not a pre-existing condition. In auto accident and other personal injury cases, proof of your injuries often requires you to submit records demonstrating what medical treatment you received for your injuries. In some cases, you may also need a letter from a treating physician describe the injuries you sustained in the accident and the medical treatment you require for those injuries. As part of your burden to prove your injuries, you also need to submit records for all medical treatment you were forced to obtain to treat injuries you sustained in the accident. You will also need to provide the medical bills associated with the treatment your received for your accident-related injuries.

You can prove your property damage, cost of repair and/or the diminution in value of your vehicle through such things as invoices and receipts.

You can prove past lost income by providing documentary support. This often can be done by supplying work records from your employer. Sometimes your wage loss claim can be proven by providing your tax documentation from a couple years prior to the accident to the present.

You must prove lost future income if your injuries prevent you from working in the future or significantly limit your ability to work in the future. Proving future lost income will typically require a medical and/or vocational expert to provide a supporting expert report and/or testimony explaining how your accident-related injuries will prevent you from working in the future and what amount of future wages you will lose due to those injuries.

You can prove out-of-pocket expenses and outstanding accident-related bills by providing copies of the bills and/or receipts.

Proving pain and suffering is tricky. Unlike the other types of damages, pain and suffering can’t be proven with receipts and/or physical evidence. Pain and suffering is a very personal type of damage people experience after an accident.

  • Compensation for Pain: Proving the pain you experienced as a result of your accident-related injuries will often come down to testimony you and those who have witnessed your pain provide to support this type of claim. To prove this type of damage, you can describe your pain, where you experience it on your body, how the pain feels (e.g., sharp and piercing, dull and achy, etc.), how often you experience the pain, how long the pain typically lasts, etc.
  • Compensation for Suffering: Suffering deals with the consequences of your pain, not the pain itself. When someone experiences pain, it often limits his or her ability to engage in activities they would otherwise enjoy. When someone is injured in an auto accident, the pain he or she feels following the accident frequently limits them from being able to do things they typically did before the accident. Although it is impossible to provide a complete list of the types of things people may be prevented from doing following an auto accident, the following are some common examples:
    • Inability to engage in activities of daily life such as taking care of the house, doing chores, etc.,
    • Exercising,
    • Going on trips or vacations,
    • Helping care for their children,
    • Depression stemming from the negative impact the accident-related injuries had on the person’s life and the limitations they have caused,
    • Anxiety for the future,
    • Recurrent and intruding thoughts regarding the accident,
    • Fear of driving, and
    • Stress resulting from increasing medical bills and simultaneous decrease in income.
  •  Compensation for Permanent Impairment: If your injuries are permanent, you are also entitled to compensation for the permanent limitations and impairments you have been forced to incur as a result of the accident.

 

Demands and Negotiations

The next step in this process is to draft and submit a demand that demonstrates the following:

  • Who is liable for the accident,
  • What injuries you sustained as a result of the accident,
  • What medical treatment you required for your injuries,
  • What your damages are for such things as medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, etc., and
  • What pain and suffering your experienced due to your injuries.

When that summary has been completed, you will need to start the negotiations process by demanding a specific amount of money to settle all aspects of your claim.  Making the initial demand is a very important part of the process because it can either initiate negotiations (if done properly) or shut down settlement discussions (if done incorrectly).  

When the initial demand has been made, the insurance adjuster or defense attorney will review the evidence and make a decision as to how much they believe the case is worth. They will then extend an offer to you. It will very likely be a shockingly low offer. That is common, as insurance companies and defense counsel want to offer as little as possible to settle a claim. After you receive the offer of settlement from the insurance adjuster or defense attorney, you will need to respond. Since the insurance adjuster or defense attorney did not offer you the amount of money you initially requested, you will need to lower your demand in order to keep the negotiations going. The process of going back and forth with various demands and offers can take a while.

The negotiation process can be lengthy but your attorney is there to guide you through the process and help you receive the best possible outcome.

Sometimes, an agreement cannot be made, and a settlement cannot be reached. Under those circumstances, your case will need to be presented to a jury to receive compensation. The jury will decide how much compensation you should receive.

 

We are here to help you through the process.

If you have suffered an injury through an auto accident call us at 614-389-9711 and speak with a personal injury specialist. We will help you navigate the situation, help you determine if you have a case, and, if you sign on as our client, help you receive the compensation you deserve.

 

Download our ebook, I Was in An Accident, What Do I Do Now? to learn more about auto accident claims.

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