There is no exact way to determine how much money you will gain from a successful accident lawsuit. Every settlement case is unique. However, one can estimate how much you can win in a case. The unknown factor is always how much you will get for pain and suffering. An approximate rule of thumb that people use is to take your medical bills and multiple them by 3.
Choosing an Attorney
The first thing you should be aware of is that using a lawyer to help your with your case will cost 1/3 of your final settlement. If you do not decide to employ a lawyer, you can try your luck with settling at the insurance company on your own. However, they will always try to cut you a bad deal since it is their job to try to give up as little money as possible.
For example, they may try to argue that your bills are too high due to receiving treatment that you did not need, or that you were healthy enough to work. However, if you followed the instructions of your doctor for treatments and time that you missed from work, you should be able to be compensated for your medical expenses and lost wages.
How Much is Your Settlement?
Computing your settlement requires adding up your medical bills, car repairs bills, rental car bills, and calculating your pain and suffering value. The car repair bills and income lost can be fulfilled by the insurance company. However, the expenses due to you for pain and suffering are not that easy to compute.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
The Multiplier Method
The way to estimate it is to use a multiplier, typically between 2 and 4, and then multiply the bill totals by that multiplier. For example, a neck injury resulting from a accident car ends up costing you $4,000 and you have missed work losses of $2,000. Your expenses would end up being $6,000. Other factors would come into pay but your settlement value would be somewhere around $12,000 and $18,000.
The Per Diem Method
Another way to tabulate the expenses is to divide it up among the days missed, called a per diem method. For example, if you receive treatment for 4 months, and still feel pain and discomfort for another 2 months, you would have 6 months that you could claim expenses for pain and suffering. If you had a medical bill of around $4,000 and job related loss of income of around $2,000, your total loss would be around $6,000. Using the per diem method, each day of the 6 months of pain and discomfort would be assigned a daily value based on your actual income.
Making the Final Estimate
The ideal way to evaluate the value of your settlement is to actually use both methods – the multiplier and the per diem methods. Use this to method to get a good estimate and then use common sense to figure out what is a reasonable amount. For example, a light accident could get you $500 – $3000, but a serious accident car could be worth between $15,000 and $35,000.
For Further Reading
I’ve read quite a few good resources on this topic. In one post I read, the author talked about the reasons for choosing a car accident lawyer to help you with a settlement claim. One point he made that’s really important is that an attorney will help you make sure that the insurance company will not take advantage of you.