While it is impossible for anyone to accurately predict the exact dollar amount of a settlement in a car accident case, it is possible to calculate the minimum amount a person should accept for his or her claim.
In order to come up with this minimum amount, most Sacramento attorneys use a “calculator” approach, adding together all of the items that must be paid for and then putting in an additional sum that is flexible to cover intangible items. In most cases, attorneys will put in more than one intangible amount to come up with a range of possible settlement amounts. Anything that falls within this range is probably a reasonable settlement amount.
The Car Accident Settlement Calculator–What Adds Up?
Figuring out how much a victim should receive is a matter of combining tangible amounts and non-tangible sums to come up with a number that reflects the true value of a case. Most attorneys include in their calculations, at a minimum:
- Payment for medical bills. You may owe hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and rehabilitation specialists money for drugs, medical equipment, services, hospital stays and other healthcare-related costs. This can add up quickly to thousands of dollars. It is very important, when performing a calculation for medical costs, that attorneys include all of the past, present and future projected costs involved in the case or ensure that these sums will be paid through insurance.
- Payment for physical damage to property. The next “big” bill that is usually involved in a car accident after medical costs is the cost of repairs to the vehicle. This can also be thousands of dollars, even for a “minor” accident. A repair shop may be able to help come up with a repair estimate to guide negotiations in this regard, but it is usually better to wait until the car has been fixed to settle the case. Further, the victim should receive some compensation for the residual loss of value of the vehicle. If the vehicle is totaled, the victim should receive enough to replace the car with a similar make and model or even a newer vehicle.
- Payment for lost wages and living expenses. Car accident injuries often cause victims to lose time at work and possibly to lose income or opportunity to earn income. An attorney must include these costs, as well as other expenses such as hiring help for child care or household tasks, in the total calculation of damages.
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress. These are the hardest calculations to make because they are the most intangible. It is important to remember that a victim is entitled to compensation for his or her suffering; however, how much that amount might be is up to the discretion of a jury or whatever sum the parties can agree on.
A Sacramento personal injury attorney can help you calculate the right amount for your pain, suffering and economic damages from a car accident.