Nine Factors That Determine How Much to Expect From a Car Accident Settlement in Pennsylvania
Ryan Zavodnick | July 1, 2020 | Car Accidents
Each car accident case is unique. The amount of your settlement is based on the facts and circumstances in the case. You may need money now, but fight the urge to settle a car accident claim until you have all the facts about your injuries and damages.
Why Should I Wait to Settle My Car Accident Claim?
Settling your car accident claim too soon could result in much less money for your claim. Once you sign a release and settlement for your injury claim, you cannot receive more money for the same claim. In other words, if you have additional injuries or damages, you cannot demand more money from the insurance company.
Before accepting a settlement for your insurance claim, it is in your best interest to consult with a car accident lawyer. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so it does not cost you anything to confirm that you receive a fair amount for your car crash injuries.
Nine Factors That Impact Compensation in a Car Accident Case
Nine factors that affect the amount of compensation you can receive for a car accident include:
1. The Severity of Your Injuries
Settling your claim before you complete medical treatment can reduce the amount of compensation you receive for your claim. A significant portion of your compensation could be related to future damages for permanent disability and impairment. Until your doctor releases you and you receive an impairment rating, it is not wise to accept a settlement offer.
You may be entitled to compensation for future loss of income, a decrease in quality of life, ongoing medical treatments, and personal care.
2. The Complexity of the Collision
Some types of collisions can take longer to investigate. If multiple drivers or parties share responsibility for your injuries, apportioning damages could be challenging. You cannot hold a party liable for damages that exceed the party’s responsibility for the cause of the collision.
3. Comparative Negligence Claims
The amount of your compensation for a car accident claim could be reduced under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws.
If you are partially to blame for the crash, the money you receive is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the accident. However, if you are 51 percent or more at fault for the crash, you cannot recover any compensation for your car accident injuries.
4. Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
In most car accident cases, you have two years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, any lawsuit that you file is likely to be dismissed by the court.
Furthermore, if your claim involves a government entity, your time to file a claim is severely restricted. Waiting too long to contact an attorney to discuss your claim could result in no recovery.
5. The Availability of Insurance Coverage
Pennsylvania has very low requirements for liability coverage for car insurance. The minimum bodily injury insurance for drivers in the state is $15,000. If a driver has minimum insurance coverage, there may not be sufficient funds to pay the full value of your claim.
Furthermore, if you chose limited tort insurance coverage when you purchased your insurance policy, you waived your right to sue for certain damages after a car accident unless your sustained serious injuries. If your insurance coverage limits your right to recover pain and suffering damages, you may receive less money for a car accident settlement.
6. Permanent Disabilities and Impairments
In most cases, victims who sustained permanent impairments or disabilities from a car crash are entitled to additional compensation. Depending on the severity of your impairment, you could receive compensation for loss of income, health care, and personal care for the rest of your life. Future damages over a lifetime could total millions of dollars.
7. Impact of Injuries on Your Quality of Life
Pain and suffering damages may also be substantial in a car accident case, especially in cases involving catastrophic injuries or disabilities. Your pain and suffering include physical pain, emotional suffering, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more. It also includes a decrease in your enjoyment of life.
Documenting and valuing these damages can be difficult because they are subjective. There is no hard evidence proving your pain and suffering. Keeping a journal with detailed notes about how your injuries impact your daily life can be very helpful.
8. Claims of Pre-Existing Conditions
If you have injuries from a prior accident or a pre-existing health condition, the insurance company may try to reduce your compensation. The company may argue that your current injuries and conditions are a combination of your pre-existing conditions and injuries caused by the car crash.
However, some laws require the responsible party to compensate you for the car accident injuries, even if a pre-existing condition made you more vulnerable to injury. Also, you could receive compensation if the accident caused a pre-existing condition to worsen.
9. Whether You Hire a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer
Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer can improve your chance of success by helping you avoid mistakes that hurt your case. Many individuals have never handled a personal injury claim. They may not be aware that a simple mistake could result in a complete denial of the claim.