Life after a serious car accident often looks very different from before. If you were injured in a crash, your ability to work, earn a living, pay your bills, deal with medical expenses, and manage your household may have been severely impacted.
Damages associated with auto accidents involve much more than just financial losses, too. Understanding the many factors that go into determining how much to expect from a car accident settlement can be complicated, but at Bianca | Matkins we strive to make this process as easy and straightforward as possible for our clients.
If you’ve been injured in a crash and would like to learn more about the car accident settlement process, please contact our Baton Rouge law office. We provide free consultations to injury victims and their families, and ASL services for the Deaf community are available upon request.
What Is Included in a Car Accident Settlement?
Most car accident settlements include compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. A small number of settlements will also involve the awarding of punitive damages, although these tend to be relatively rare in personal injury claims.
To better understand how much you may expect to receive in your car accident settlement, you must first understand the damages for which you are being compensated.
In car accident cases, economic damages refer to the financial losses you have suffered as a result of your accident. It is important to keep thorough records of all costs you have incurred since your crash, as you and your lawyer will use this documentation to accurately assess how much you are owed for economic damages.
Examples of economic damages you may be owed compensation for include:
- Lost wages if you cannot work after your accident.
- Reduced earning capacity if you can no longer be employed in the same capacity and must instead work fewer hours or take a lower paying job.
- Medical expenses for ambulance rides, surgeries, doctor’s visits, specialist appointments, physical therapy, imaging tests (such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs), assistive medical devices, therapy, psychiatric services, and other costs you’ve already incurred.
- Future medical expenses for treatment you are expected to need over the lifetime of your injury.
- Towing costs if your car was not safe to drive or if there was no one that it could be released to after the accident.
- Property damage if your vehicle or other valuable property were damaged in the crash, including cell phones, laptops, children’s car seats, prescription glasses or eyewear, jewelry, and more.
- Home renovation costs for things like lower counters or wider doorways if you have to use a wheelchair after the crash.
- Domestic services if you are unable to cook, clean, or care for your children as you once did. In-home nursing care may also be covered if deemed medically necessary.
How much you are owed for economic damages is reliant upon the unique circumstances of your life and how it was affected by the car accident.
Direct financial losses are not the only way your life may have been impacted by a Baton Rouge car accident. In a personal injury settlement, non-economic damages are intended to compensate you for the myriad of other ways that your life was affected.
In a car accident claim, non-economic damages may cover:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Loss of limb
- Loss of body function or paralysis
- Loss of companionship or consortium
While the above examples might not necessarily have a financial component, there is no denying the profoundly negative impact they can have on a person’s life. Accurately valuing non-economic damages is particularly complex, though, which is why we recommend working with an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have the requisite skills and knowledge needed to correctly value the worth of your non-economic losses.
When the insurance company pushes back against your claim for compensation, you’ll be glad to have the legal backing of a lawyer from Bianca | Matkins.
Only a small number of personal injury claims for car accidents involve the awarding of punitive damages. Also called exemplary damages, these are intended to punish (or “make an example of”) the at-fault party for actions that were particularly egregious. For example, punitive damages are an option in claims involving drunk driving when the at-fault party’s decision to drive was made with “wanton or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.”
The goal of punitive damages is two-fold:
- To prevent the at-fault party from engaging in the same or similar behavior in the future, and,
- To make an example of the at-fault party, discouraging others from engaging in the same behaviors.
Caps on Car Accident Settlements in Louisiana
The state of Louisiana does not impose a cap (or limit) on the amount of compensation you can secure in a car accident settlement. This means there is no artificial limit on how much you can settle your economic and non-economic damages for.
There is one notable exception to this rule, though. Car accident claims involving a government agency have a cap of $500,000 per case for all damages combined.
It is also important to note that punitive damages are only awarded by judges or juries, meaning that you cannot negotiate for them with the insurance company. There is no cap on punitive damages, and it will be up to the awarding party to determine the amount.
How Much Can I Expect From a Car Accident Settlement?
There is no such thing as an average car accident claim. Every personal injury case is different, and every victim we work with has varying financial losses and other damages associated with their accident. Instead, we can think of typical car accident compensation as existing on a spectrum. On one end are claims worth a few thousand dollars, and on the other end are the claims worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The best way to know for certain what you can expect from a car accident settlement is to work with an experienced lawyer who has a background in dealing with the big auto insurers.
Don’t Miss Out on Car Accident Compensation
Barring a few extenuating circumstances, there will be no opportunity to go back and ask for more money once you’ve settled a claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurer. If you don’t accurately value the worth of your claim, you’ll miss out on compensation that is vital to your physical recovery, financial stability, and emotional wellbeing.
Bianca | Matkins is a proud legal advocate for injury victims in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, and the surrounding area. For an opportunity to discuss your case and how much you can expect from a car accident settlement, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.