If you have been involved in a car crash, you have probably heard numerous opinions from friends and family members on what steps you should take. Maybe you’ve heard that your claim could be worth a million dollars, or that suing people is wrong. Perhaps someone has even told you that if you sued the at-fault party, you would spend more money paying a lawyer than you could possibly collect in winning a case. Are any of these statements and opinions actually true?
Surprisingly, all of these statements may be wrong. Evaluating the worth of an accident depends on several complex factors, and it would not be possible to accurately predict exactly what you could potentially collect in damages. Here are a few simple guidelines, which a personal injury attorney will discuss with you during a free consultation. Each guideline is designed to help you decide how much money your case might bring in settlement. Of course, this initial conversation cannot possibly provide concrete facts, or statements that are set in stone, but it can help guide you to thinking about the value of your accident claim.
- Who was injured in the car crash? The individual who was injured will make a big difference in how much is offered at settlement. As unfair and unfortunate as this may seem, it is typically a fact that if a small child is killed by a negligent driver, the case will usually settle for a lot more money, than if an elderly grandmother is killed by the same driver. This is not to imply that anyone is worth more or less than someone else, but, court’s do tend to use formulas when evaluating the value of an individuals life. So, as older people can be expected to live shorter amounts of time than younger individuals, it is not all that surprising that settlements involving younger people are often larger than those involving older people. This same logic can also apply to the value of an individuals earnings. A person with a professional degree who makes around $100,000 a year and lost time from work, will be valued higher than someone who missed a job making minimum wage.
- Was the other driver, or at-fault party, deliberately negligent? It does actually make a difference when a person is unknowingly acting in a negligent manner as compared to someone being deliberately careless. (An injury attorney can help explain this difference during your free consultation). For example, someone who falls asleep at the wheel may not be judged to be quite as negligent as someone who deliberately drives drunk and causes an accident. Don’t get us wrong, liability exists in both cases, but the drunk driver typically tends to be held to a higher level of punishment in the form of a higher settlement against him or her for negligence.
- How much damage was actually caused? Sure, we talk about punitive damages and multi-million dollar settlements, but in reality, personal injury settlements are largely based upon the amount of actual damages caused by the at-fault party. If you have $20,000 in medical bills, it is likely that an experienced attorney will press for far more than $20,000 in damages. But, even if you already paid your medical bills, and do not receive anything over $20,000, it is obviously better than no settlement at all.
So, we’ve debunked a few myths about evaluating case worth. But how about the comment that suing someone will undoubtedly result in paying an attorney far more money than you will make? This comment is absolutely untrue. Missouri personal injury attorney Chris Dixon works on a no fee guarantee, meaning that he will not collect any money, unless he wins your case. Even then, attorney’s fees are only a small percentage of actual winnings. Avoid the opinions and advice of others following a crash, and get the facts straight from an attorney who specializes in car crash litigation. Give us a call today (314.409.7060 OR 855.40.CRASH) for a free, no obligation case evaluation, where we can help you to put a dollar amount to your car crash.