How Do Lawyers Calculate Settlements After a Car Accident?

An experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate the strength of your case with a free initial consultation. Working with an attorney who represents your case will more likely result in a reasonable settlement offer based on the damages you suffered.

Do Not Make the Mistake of Accepting a Low Offer

Insurance adjusters, when evaluating claims, try to pay as little as possible. Without the benefit of legal counsel, your case may appear weak to an insurance adjuster. If you make the mistake of going at this alone, you are likely to get a settlement offer that is much less than your case is worth.

Usually, these “low-ball” offers come along with lots of pressure, friendly or otherwise, to sign the settlement offer agreement and accept payment as soon as possible. It is almost certainly a huge mistake to take the first offer, especially if you do not benefit from the help of a qualified attorney. It is much wiser to use your free consultation to get some idea of what your case may be worth.

The Settlement Formula

Insurance adjusters do have a general formula that they use to generate settlement offers. An experienced personal injury attorney makes a similar calculation.

Here is the formula:

The settlement offer comes from a calculation using the amount of special damages multiplied by a multiple to cover general damages, plus lost wage income.

Special damages are losses with a monetary value, such as property damage and medical expenses.

General damages are losses that do not have a specific monetary value. General damages are pain and suffering that might include emotional damage from stress or depression. It can also include loss of enjoyable activities and loss of consortium, which means a damaged relationship.

The multiple is a number from one to five, which is used depending on the severity of the car accident. The higher the number, the more severe the accident.

A minor car accident that is a “fender bender” with no significant injuries except a sprain might have a multiple of one and one-half to two. A car accident that causes brain damage might have a multiple of four or five.

Lost wage income is added to the total of damages. This figure is the actual earning lost for the time that a person could not work due to the accident. If the person is not employed, the value of the lost wages is estimated based on what the person might earn if working in a position they qualify to do.

If you are permanently disabled due to the accident and cannot work, the lost wages are the present value of your lifetime wages estimated for the remaining years you could have worked.

The total from these calculations becomes the basis for what an insurance company will consider paying for the claim. The approved settlement amount is often expressed in a value range to give the insurance adjuster room for negotiation.

If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, consult with a personal injury attorney by calling (281) 475-4535 to get a free settlement consultation to ensure your rights are protected and receive the settlement offer you deserve.