What is my Case Worth?
Evaluating what a car accident case is worth in settlement requires consideration of many factors. The four most important considerations are:
- The assignment of fault: How much blame is likely to be assessed against the defendant and how much (if any) would be held against our client, the plaintiff? Determining fault is not an exact science and disagreement over fault is why many cases are set for trial.
- The severity of the injuries sustained and who sustained those injuries.
- The ability to recover any judgment or, in other words, how much insurance is available.
- Any aggravating factors that will likely cause a jury to award more money to the injured person. A common aggravating factor the role of alcohol in the accident — especially if the at-fault driver was charged with DWI.
Determining fault in an auto accident is not always clear cut. Fault is determined based on who was most negligent in the accident. Many times, your instincts will tell you that a driver was being careless or reckless although you may not be sure what specific laws were broken. An experienced auto accident injury attorney will look at many sources to determine fault in your accident. We consider many factors in determining fault such as:
- Police reports
- Witness accounts
- State traffic laws
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Traffic light malfunction
- Failure to use turn signal
- Excessive speed or driving too far below the speed limit
- Driving while intoxicated
While some cases may appear to have clear-cut fault, others may be more difficult to determine. An experienced accident attorney knows how to look into all aspects of a collision in order to determine fault. Sometimes, fault is shared between the parties involved. In a circumstance like this, insurance carriers will often pay to the degree you are not at fault. For example, if you are found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, the insurance carrier would pay for 80 percent of your claim. The attorneys of Rush & Gransee, L.C., will thoroughly research all avenues to determine fault in your case. Often, your lawyer has to advocate on your behalf to convince the insurance adjuster or jury that you were not at fault or were only minimally at fault.
It is important to remember that even though you may have left the scene of an accident after being told by the responding police officer that you are at fault, this may not be the case. Insurance companies see fault issues slightly differently than what may be listed on your police report. Contact an attorney right away if you have some question as to whether you were really to blame for your accident.Third-Party Fault
There are some instances where fault in an auto accident lies with a manufacturer or another negligent party. For instance, if the vehicle was designed poorly, causing it to be more likely to crash than another vehicle of a similar type, the manufacturer of the vehicle may be to blame. SUV manufacturers are often to blame for certain types of rollover accidents due to the SUV's poor design. An auto mechanic can be to blame for poor repair work that led to an accident. These types of cases are often highly technical and require the assistance of an experienced trial lawyer.Severity of Injuries
One of the most important factors in determining the value of a car accident case is the severity of the injuries and who sustained them. An injury that causes permanent harm is worth more than an injury that will ultimately heal. An injury that causes someone to change careers or employment is more compensable than a case where the injured party can go back to work. An insurance company will normally pay more for an injury that caused scarring to a female in comparison to a male who suffered similar disfigurement. Also, insurance companies will pay more for the personal injury damages from an auto accident that causes great property damage than a fender bender. Images of twisted wreckage would strike a chord with jurors if the case went to trial.
Back injuries are common in car crashes. Back injuries can range from soft tissue damage up to disk herniation requiring surgery. Insurance companies will usually collect and review the past medical records when an accident victim complains of a back injury. They will look for any evidence of a pre-existing condition. If they conclude the car accident did not cause the back injury or only aggravated a prior injury, insurers will either refuse to settle or will offer a reduced amount in settlement. Often, the plaintiff's firm will need to hire its own expert to review the records to present a counter-argument that the accident did cause the injury.Ability to Recover Compensation
In cases involving serious injuries, it is necessary to evaluate whether a large verdict is recoverable. Whether a verdict is recoverable is determined by the assets of the at-fault driver, or the assets of the company he/she works for if it was a company vehicle; the size of the at-fault driver's insurance policy; and whether you — the injured party — has uninsured/underinsured coverage and in what amount.Aggravating Factors
Aggravating factors — drunk driving, aggressive driving, road rage, belligerent attitude toward investigating officers, or driving that goes beyond mere negligence to recklessness — can and will likely increase an injured party's recovery. An auto accident lawyer should always look for an aggravating factor to use as a hook to get a client more money in recovery. Knowledge of the premium that juries assess against bad behavior can and should get an injured party more money in a settlement.
At Rush & Gransee, our experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys have handled car wrecks, SUV rollovers, tire blowout accidents, collisions with 18-wheelers, motorcycle accidents and more. We are proven trial attorneys who know the rules of the road and the laws that pertain to automobile accidents. We use that knowledge to obtain the results our clients deserve.Don't Settle for Less Than You Deserve
We deal regularly with the insurance companies and their attorneys, aggressively pursuing fair compensation for our clients for the injuries and damages they have sustained. Call or email us right now to find out what your case is worth in a free consultation. We take cases in San Antonio, McAllen, Laredo, Corpus Christi and throughout South Texas, and in many instances, will travel to meet you in your home.