Following a wreck, accident victims have to speak to police, adjusters, and other drivers, all of which can be extremely frustrating. It’s easy to give up and accept any paltry settlement you’re offered, even if you know you’re being low-balled. But it’s smarter to remember that insurance companies are ultimately concerned with their own profits, not your pain and suffering. That’s why personal injury cases are best handled by a compassionate lawyer who will work hard to negotiate a car accident settlement for you.
Hurt in an Auto Accident? Get an Attorney and Get Paid
The average personal injury settlement after a car accident is only about $50,000, barely enough to pay for doctor bills and fix your car. In comparison, people who hire a lawyer average $77,000 under the same circumstances. When injuries are severe or if a death occurs, settlements can be millions of dollars.
The families of five nursing students that were killed in a pile-up caused by a negligent truck driver received an $80 million settlement. Fortunately, cases like this are rare. And while the money is no substitute for the loss of loved ones, it does replace lost income and will hopefully prevent reckless drivers from hurting someone else in the future.
If you find yourself seriously injured or someone you love is killed in a crash, you deserve every penny that a lawyer can win for you. But it’s going to take some work. Confusing items that a lawyer can help you with include the following:
Policy payouts have limits or caps that can vary and seem arbitrary.
Fault is based on each driver’s contribution to the crash and financial compensation is done in percentages according to assignment of blame.
Fatal accidents can have huge payouts and deciding which family member should file suit and who to sue has a huge impact on the amount of the award. Should the other driver be sued? Or was there a defective car part or obstacle in the road, which means you should be suing a large manufacturing company or the city instead?
How No-Fault Laws Complicate Your Case
The state of New York has fairly restrictive laws when it comes to winning big awards for pain and suffering caused by car accidents. The no fault law, which was first enacted in the 1970s, is designed to minimize frivolous claims and limit payouts exclusively to victims with significant injuries. You may receive an award if you can prove any of the following happened to you:
- A permanent injury or injury that resulted in death
- Significant or permanent disfigurement
- Loss of limbs or dismemberment
- Skull fracture or other serious fracture
- For pregnant women, the loss of fetus
- Permanent loss, or consequential and permanent limitation of bodily function, such as major organ function
- An injury that may not be permanent but prevents the person from being able to perform usual daily activities for a significant amount of time
One of the primary outcomes of no fault laws is the unfair dismissal of whiplash cases before they go to trial. Whiplash injuries are often deemed less serious, even though delayed whiplash complications from traumatic brain injury are not uncommon. The Department of Financial Services publishes no-fault insurance FAQs here.
Too many accident victims settle claims out of frustration with the legal system before they even discuss their claim with an attorney. Don’t be one of them. In most serious personal injury cases, patience and perseverance is rewarded once you begin working in tandem with an experienced lawyer that will maximize your settlement.