During a car accident case, an individual may need to choose between settling a lawsuit or going to trial. Without proper representation or experience in motor vehicle accident cases, an individual may unwittingly accept a bad settlement deal that may not cover the total cost of their injuries and damages. A knowledgeable attorney can assist you with settling your case. If you have questions, give us a call; we’re easy to talk to.
Determining the Settlement Amount
In a car accident insurance claim, the adjusters will generally determine the total amount of the settlement value and make offers to the involved parties based on this valuation. The defense attorneys may have the evaluation amount for the settlement but typically report directly to the adjuster, so negotiations can depend on the insurance company on whom best to negotiate.
For some insurance companies, the defense attorney will have what is referred to as “settlement authority,” or a top dollar threshold amount for which the attorney can settle the claim. For example, if an attorney has an authority of $25,000, then they may be able to begin negotiating on their own, begin at $12,000, and work their way up to settle for as little as possible. Some insurance companies require all the offers and counteroffers to go through the adjuster on each negotiation as the negotiations take place. Usually, the defendant’s insurance adjusters negotiate most of the claims instead of the insurance defense attorneys.
The settlement value to the plaintiff is taking the total settlement amount minus the fees and costs, if an individual has an attorney, and subtracting any outstanding medical bills. If they had health insurance, then the health insurance may need to be reimbursed for what they paid on medical expenses related to the wreck.
The basic settlement math includes: Medical Bills + Pain & Suffering + Lost Income – Attorney Fees (if applicable) – Case Costs (obtaining records, court fees) – Medical Bills – Health Insurance Reimbursement = the net payment to the injured party.
Impact of Comparative Fault in a Settlement
Negligence on behalf of the injured person can impact the settlement amount. If the injured person was negligent in contributing to the wreck, the insurance company will evaluate the case differently. The company will argue over what percentage of the person is at fault and will generally attempt to base a higher percentage of the fault on what a jury would likely do.
Insurance companies have an extensive database of prior settlements, which means they know what amounts many consumers are willing to settle for. If the injured party was ten percent at fault and the insurance company thought the claim was worth $10,000, they would reduce their initial evaluation by ten percent.
An Attorney’s Role in Calculating an Oklahoma City Car Accident Settlement
A car wreck attorney can help you determine the settlement value based on their prior experience, similar to how insurance companies can evaluate claims based on prior settlements. Attorneys who have handled similar cases can give you a rough estimate of a typical settlement range on a similar case.
If the insurance company is unwilling to make a fair settlement offer, the next step is filing a lawsuit. Before hiring a lawyer, ensure the law firm is willing and able to take the case to trial. Lawyers that do not take cases to trial can easily be undervaluing cases. Most insurance companies track which law firms go to trial, and they often evaluate claims differently if the claimant and the attorney representing them are not willing to go to trial. Insurance companies regularly need juries to hold them accountable.