Wrecked: How to Calculate the Real Cost of Your Car Accident Claim
One of the most common questions we get from clients is “What is my case worth?” Before you can determine the value of your personal injury case, it’s important to understand the types of potential damages and how Alabama’s laws may impact your settlement or jury award.
Below, the car accident lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys discuss some of the key factors we look at when valuing a claim. However, determining how much you are owed for your car accident is a very complicated process. To understand the real value of your injury claim, contact an experienced accident lawyer.
Car Accident Damages Can Vary Dramatically
Millions of people are injured in car crashes every year in the US, resulting in over $60 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity, according to the CDC. This figure does not even take into consideration other costs involved in an accident, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss or consortium.
“When determining the value of your Alabama car accident claim, it is important to know that the types of damages, or compensation, you may receive”
While calculating your out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages may seem like a simple task, it requires great skill and attention to detail. For example, you may need to consult with experts, such as physicians, life care planners, and vocational experts to fully understand your lost wage–earning capacity and medical and long-term care needs.
The financial lifetime cost of a personal injury car accident could range anywhere between a few thousand dollars to several million, depending on the extent of your injuries. Either way, this isn’t something most people can afford to pay out–of–pocket, and insurance agencies aren’t typically going to be on your side.
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What Compensation Can I Recover from My Car Wreck?
When determining the value of your Alabama car accident claim, it is important to know that the types of damages, or compensation, you may receive. Damages fall into three main categories.
Economic damages are the financial losses you suffer after a car accident. These expenses typically include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including hospital and ambulance bills
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Mental health treatment and counseling
- Property damage
- Lost earnings
- Future lost income
To accurately calculate your economic damages, you’ll need to collect your accident-related bills and consult with an experienced Alabama injury lawyer about your future needs and expenses.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate, because they involve placing a monetary value on the pain and suffering you experienced during and after the car wreck. Possible non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain
- Physical limitations, impairments, or scars
- Lasting depression or anxiety
- Loss of ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium
Because non-economic damages are not expenses with tangible bills like economic damages, they are extremely difficult to calculate accurately. Working with a personal injury attorney is the only way to determine an accurate estimate of your non-economic damages.
Juries sometimes award punitive damages, and they aim to punish an at-fault driver for their intentional misconduct or reckless disregard for your safety. For example, you may be eligible for punitive damages if you’re injured by a drunk driver or during a road rage incident.
In Alabama, courts can award up to three times your economic and non-economic damages in punitive damages, up to $1.5 million.
How Alabama Negligence Laws Affect Your Settlement
Determining your potential damages is only one aspect of calculating your personal injury costs and the potential value of a settlement. State negligence laws have a huge impact on not only how much you can recover, but also whether you are entitled to recover anything at all.
Contributory Negligence Can Eliminate Your Right to Compensation
In a personal injury case, proving that the other party is at fault or negligent is crucial to your case’s value. How much you can recover from your case depends in large part on whether the negligent party is 100% responsible for causing your injury.
You might think it is obvious that the driver who ran into you should be held fully accountable for your injuries. However, negligence is far more complicated then it first appears. If the other driver’s insurance agent or lawyer can prove that you were not paying attention—say you were talking on your phone at the time of the accident—they may claim that you are partly responsible for the accident since you failed to pay full attention to your surroundings.
Depending on where you live, being partly liable for the accident will either decrease your compensation by the percent of blame assigned to you or make you ineligible to receive compensation at all.
Many states have comparative negligence laws, which means if you are 10% at fault for your injuries, you will only be able to receive 90% of your total compensation. In contrast, Alabama has a contributory negligence law, and even if you are only 1% responsible for the accident, you cannot receive any compensation.
You Must File Your Lawsuit Within Strict Deadlines
Like all other states, Alabama has a personal injury statute of limitations. If you do not file your car accident lawsuit within this deadline, you may lose your right to compensation. Typically, you have two years from the time of your accident to file a lawsuit in Alabama.
If you believe that the negligent party’s defense strategy might include an attempt to blame you for the collision, or you need help calculating your statute of limitations, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help you understand these complicated laws and how they impact your claim. And a lawyer may help you build compelling legal arguments to fight the insurance company’s tactics.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys Can Help You Calculate the Value of Your Personal Injury Case
Working with an experienced personal injury or accident lawyer is the only way to determine the real cost of your personal injury and calculate your potential settlement amount. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck in Alabama, contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys for help. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions for our clients and aren’t afraid to stand up to insurance companies.
Motor Vehicle Safety: Cost Data and Prevention Policies. (2017, May). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/costs/index.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.