9 Factors That Could Affect Your Austin Car Accident Settlement
If you are injured in a car accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries and damage. Texas is an at-fault insurance state for car accident claims. If you prove that the other driver caused the car wreck, that driver is responsible for your injuries.
However, proving that the other driver caused the car accident and recovering full compensation for your damages are two different matters. Several other factors impact how much you might receive for a car accident settlement.
These nine factors could impact how much money you receive for your car accident claim:
1. Who Was At-Fault for the Cause of the Collision
If the other driver was entirely responsible for causing the car accident, you should be entitled to full compensation for damages. However, if you share responsibility for causing the car crash, your compensation can be reduced.
Texas uses a modified comparative fault standard for apportioning damages in a car accident case. Under the state’s proportionate responsibility statute, your compensation is reduced by the same percentage as your fault for the crash. Therefore, if you are 30% at fault for the car accident, you can only recover 70% of the compensation you should receive for your damages.
If your fault is 51% or higher, you are barred from receiving any money for the car accident. The other driver could recover up to 49% of their damages.
2. The Injuries You Sustained in the Car Accident
Car accident injuries range from minor to catastrophic. The severity and type of your car accident injuries impact the value of your personal injury claim.
Generally, the value of an injury claim increases with the severity of the injury. For example, a person who sustains a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury may receive more money for a car accident claim than a person who breaks their arm or suffers from whiplash.
However, DO NOT assume that a minor injury means you cannot recover a fair amount for your car accident claim. If you believe the insurance company is undervaluing your claim or acting in bad faith, seek legal advice immediately.
3. Whether You Received Prompt Medical Attention for Injuries
Delays in medical care give the insurance company a reason to question your injury claim. The company might argue that the accident did not cause your injuries because you did not go to the doctor until weeks after the accident.
Prompt medical attention after a car crash increases your chance that you can receive fair compensation for your injury claim. Report all injury symptoms to your doctor immediately. If you suspect additional injuries or your symptoms worsen, call your doctor immediately.
4. The Things You Said After the Car Accident
Your statements after a car accident can impact your personal injury claim. If you apologize or say you are sorry at the accident scene, the insurance company may allege you were admitting fault for causing the crash. If you state that you are doing “okay” or “fine” when talking to an insurance adjuster, the adjuster might say that you are now exaggerating your injuries to get more money.
It can be wise to avoid talking to the insurance company until after speaking with a lawyer about your claim. It is extremely risky to agree to provide a written or recorded statement about the car accident and your injuries without an attorney present. Your statements could be used against you if you are deposed, or you testify at a trial.
5. Whether You Sustained Permanent Disabilities or Impairments
The value of a car accident claim increases when the victim sustains permanent disabilities or impairments, such as paralysis, amputations, and permanent brain damage. The cost of treatment and care for permanent injuries is much higher. Also, the person may require long-term personal care.
Additionally, a person who sustains a permanent impairment may not be able to work. The loss of income – or loss of consortium for family members – over a lifetime could total millions of dollars.
Lastly, the pain and suffering associated with disabling conditions are more significant. A person’s life changes forever when he or she sustains a disability or impairment. The emotional, physical, and mental trauma can be substantial.
6. The Amount of Your Economic Damages
You are entitled to reimbursement for your economic damages after a car accident. Economic damages are your financial losses, such as medical expenses, personal care, and loss of income.
The total of your financial losses can also impact the value of your pain and suffering damages. Many insurance companies use a multiplier method to value pain and suffering damages. The total of your economic losses is multiplied by the multiplier to calculate the value of non-economic damages.
7. The Insurance Company Handling the Claim
Some insurance companies are easier to work with than other insurance companies. All insurance providers want to pay the smallest amount possible to resolve a car accident claim. However, some companies might engage in bad faith insurance tactics to unjustly deny or lower the value of a claim.
Building a strong case for fault and liability is one way to battle the insurance companies. Careful documentation of damages is also a way to force insurance companies to acknowledge a car accident claim’s correct value.
8. The Amount of Insurance Available for Your Claim
Texas has minimum liability insurance requirements for drivers. A driver must have a minimum of $30,000 in coverage for injuries to a person in a car accident ($60,000 for injuries to more than one person).
If your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits, you will need to sue the driver for damages. Collecting on a personal judgment could be very difficult.
If you have underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance company could compensate you for damages over the at-fault driver’s policy limits. You would need to file a separate insurance claim with your provider after you settle the car accident claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
9. Whether You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney or Not
Insurance companies are aware of the reputations of law firms. They know which law firms are willing to take cases to court if it is necessary to protect their clients’ best interests.
If an insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement for your car accident claim, hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle the claim could work in our favor. The car insurance company might take the claim more seriously and offer a fair settlement to avoid the additional costs of going to court.
You Do Not Have to Settle for a Low Amount
You are not required to accept the insurance company’s offer to settle your claim. You have the right to negotiate for a higher settlement amount. You also have the right to consult with a lawyer.
Do not let an insurance provider force you into accepting a settlement agreement that is not fair. Get information from a trusted legal advocate before you sign a settlement agreement.