After being in a car accident in Pittsburgh, you are likely wondering how much your injuries and losses are worth. This is a great question to ask because an insurance agent will be in touch with you soon after the accident and will most likely offer you a specific amount of compensation to hurry and settle your car accident case.
While you may be happy to learn this because you need money to cover your medical expenses and car repair bills, it is important to keep in mind that the initial offer is almost always significantly lower than the true amount that you are entitled to. Therefore, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney and find out how much your car accident may be worth.
Factors that go into determining how much your car accident is worth
Without discussing your case with an attorney, it can be difficult to get a clear understanding of how much your case is worth. This is because every case comes with its own set of unique circumstances, meaning that there is no set award for car crash victims. Instead, your attorney will need to know the details surrounding your accident and case to develop an accurate assessment of what you can seek in damages.
This assessment, however, can take time. The reason for this is because you likely have no idea how much your medical bills will be, how severe and extensive your injuries are, the types of specialized services and treatments you may need (physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgeries, medical devices, etc.), and how long you might be out of work. Our Pittsburgh car accident lawyers need to know what these true costs and losses are before we can determine the value of your case.
Other factors than can affect your total award include:
- Auto mechanic fees
- In-home services and caregiving costs
- Lost income
- Loss of benefits (healthcare, retirement funding, etc.)
- Mental and emotional trauma (stress, anxiety, depression, humiliation, etc.)
How an insurance company calculates compensation awards
Insurance companies calculate compensation awards differently than lawyers do. Insurance adjusters typically use a specific type of software to calculate how much your car accident is worth. The software program will usually take all your medical bills and other expenses and add them together. After it adds those up, it will multiply them by a specific number to get your compensation amount. The software doesn’t care about the victims. If you can’t walk without pain or hug your kids, or remember your own name – it’s all the same to the software. And insurance companies routinely opt to use the lowest possible multiplier when they enter these numbers into their computers.
On the other hand, when a lawyer from our firm calculates your compensation amount, we look at the big picture and make sure everything is included. We look at not only the medical expenses but the way the injury has changed your life. We look at your lost wages but also your loss of future earning potential, including losses from things like having to pay healthcare out of pocket, or loss of dividends from stocks, or the loss of a company car.
We also look at pain and suffering. Insurance software doesn’t assess long-term mental and emotional trauma. It can’t understand what chronic physical pain is, or the toll that takes on your mental health. So when we work with victims of catastrophic injuries, our “multiplier” is usually far higher than theirs. We understand that some losses are just too great.
Can my injuries affect the value of my car accident case?
Your injuries do affect the value of your car accident case. The more serious your injuries are, the more compensation you may receive. Think about it: a person with a broken arm may have $25,000 worth of medical bills and lost wages. A person with a spinal cord injury? That’s at least a million dollars the first year for health care and living expenses. So a spinal cord injury victim should absolutely receive more compensation than someone with a broken arm that heals. Even most insurance companies won’t try to pretend that a broken arm and a severed spine are worth the same amount of money.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t give you a lowball offer, anyway. Remember: their only goal is to keep as much of your money as they can.
Can going to trial affect the value of my car accident case?
Trials can also affect the value of your case. The reason is because juries (assuming you opt for a jury trial) are notoriously unpredictable. It’s possible that a jury might hear a case and award a victim nothing. In that event, the victim walks away with no compensation at all, unless he or she agrees to settle before the case ends. And in that case, the settlement offer will probably plummet, because the insurance company knows they have you on the ropes, so to speak.
On the other hand, juries can be far more sympathetic than software. If they can see you (or photos of your injuries), and hear you talk about what your life has been like since the wreck, then they may be more inclined to side with you. If they think the liable party was especially egregious, you may even be awarded more than you asked for. (That isn‘t always the case, but it does happen.)
Note, however, that litigation can take longer, and may have more associated costs, than settling with the insurance company. As experienced trial attorneys, we know the benefits and the potential risks of both, and we can discuss those options with you during a consultation.
A Pittsburgh car accident attorney from Carmody and Ging will listen to your story, advocate for your rights and compensation needs, and represent you in court if that is what is best for you. Our team believes that our clients should receive the full amount of compensation that they need and deserve to reclaim their lives again. To schedule a free consultation, please call our office or submit our contact form today.