When you file a claim with an insurance company after an accident of any
sort, you are essentially asking them to give you money to help take care
of you while you recover. How much you seek and why you seek it will vary
from case-to-case. But what you might not realize is that many insurance
companies use a fairly standardized formula to determine how much you
should be offered.
After an accident, you may be entitled to damages that help pay for:
- Medical costs and hospitalization
- Missing or lost income
- Emotional trauma
- Property repair or replacement
Insurance companies begin by looking at the first and arguably most important
form of damage: medical bills. The cost to help you recover is easily
represented and understood because it is right there at the bottom of
your receipt from the hospital. The cost of your emotional damages is abstract.
Paying for Your Emotions
To reach an amount of compensation for the abstract concept of your suffering,
an insurance company may take the cost of your medical recovery and multiply
it by any number between 1.5 and 10. The more severe your injury, the
longer it is expected to last, or how devastating the accident was at
a glance, the higher the number. The result is how much compensation they
might offer you upfront.
Example: Your medical cost is $20,000 after another driver flipped your car. The
experience was clearly rattling and caused you a great deal of pain. The
insurance company offers you $20,000 for your medical bills plus another
$40,000 for nominal damages, or $20,000 x 2. Right now, your total is $60,000.
Missing Work, Adding Compensation
Next, the insurance company has to add how much money you would have made
at work had your accident never taken you off the workforce. This number
will be representative of your average earnings over the course of 12
months in most cases. If you are salaried, it is much easier to calculate.
Example: The back injury you suffered requires a full year of bedrest. You are
salaried at $40,000 and are earning no leave-of-absence pay from your
employer. The settlement offer should be $100,000 in this example, or
$60,000 + $40,000.
How Much of This Is Your Fault?
Lastly, your percentage of fault will greatly affect your compensation.
Insurance adjusters will try to estimate how liable you are for your own
injuries and accident and represent this as a percentage. Your compensation
amount will be multiplied by that percentage’s inverse.
Example: The driver that hit you and caused your rollover was drunk, but you were
speeding. You are determined to be 40% liable for your accident; the inverse
of 40% is 60%. If you were going to be offered $100,000 in compensation,
it would be reduced to $60,000, or $100,000 x 60%.
Due to the percentage of fault being largely unpredictable and up for debate,
it is crucial that you work with a car accident lawyer from the start
of your claim. With their help, you can minimize your own liability to
maximize your compensation amount. If you were hurt in Florida, talk to
the Stuart personal injury lawyers at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates,
866-675-4427 to request a
free case evaluation today.