Car accidents cause injury, pain, and emotional distress that can upset the accident victim’s life. Settlement amounts in car accident cases depend on a multitude of factors, including evidence of liability, the nature and severity of the injury, treatment, pain, medical expense, financial loss, property damage, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. The amount of the settlement also depends on the insurance coverage available for the accident victim. The at-fault driver’s insurance is the primary source of compensation. If that policy is inadequate to compensate the accident victim, then the victim would look to their own underinsured motorist policy or, if the victim is a passenger, to the underinsured motorist policy of the vehicle in which they were riding.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?
To make a successful claim for an auto accident, the victim must first prove that the other driver caused the accident.
The severity of the victim’s injury and the cost and impact of those damages on the victim’s life are important factors in obtaining settlement. The best evidence of a victim’s injury, treatment, pain, and suffering is contained within the medical records of the treating providers. We instruct all our clients to follow their provider's direction on all appointments and suggested treatments and to inform the providers of the difficulty they are experiencing because of the accident.
If insurance for the responsible driver is inadequate to compensate the victim, we look to underinsured motorist coverage.
In Pennsylvania, if the accident victim is insured under a policy of auto insurance, the victim’s policy pays the first $5,000 of the victim’s medical bills. All Pennsylvania insurance policies must provide at least $5,000 in medical bill payments. The policy may provide for additional medical expenses and for wage loss, depending upon the terms of the victim’s policy. If the victim is a passenger and has no auto insurance, then the policy of the car in which the victim was riding pays the first $5,000 of the victim’s medical bills, or more depending upon the terms of the policy.
The victim may claim against the responsible driver’s insurance policy for personal injuries and economic damages beyond the payment of medical bills.
The damages available to the victim also depend upon the terms of the victim’s policy, and specifically, on the victims of full tort or limited tort in that policy. If the victim selected the full tort option, the victim could claim financial damages and personal injuries such as pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress. If the victim selected the limited tort option, the victim’s claims are limited to financial losses such as property damage, wage loss, and out-of-pocket expenses. The limited tort claimant cannot claim damages for pain, suffering, or emotional distress. There are several exceptions that would move the limited tort claimant to a full tort claimant. The claimant would have full tort if the responsible driver was drunk, the vehicle was registered out of state, the victim had a serious injury as defined by case law, or if the victim was not riding in a personal passenger motor vehicle.
To bring a claim for a car accident, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident and your injury. If the accident was caused by your actions combined with the actions of the other driver, you must prove that the other driver is more at fault for the accident than you are. Proving liability means proving that the other driver was negligent. Negligence can mean the other driver was driving recklessly, driving while distracted, failing to obey traffic laws and rules of the road. You must also demonstrate that the accident caused you physical and financial damages and affected your quality of life.
Impact of Damages
A car accident can impact many areas of your life... You may miss work and lose income because of your injuries. Your vehicle may be damaged, you may experience pain, suffering, and emotional distress. It is important to know what your future holds with regard to your physical, emotional, and financial injuries, before accepting an accident settlement.
We Are Here to Help
If you are injured in an accident and the responsible driver’s insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly, you need an advocate. Dugan & Associates will gather the necessary evidence to build your case, then present it to the insurance carrier to maximize the settlement value. If the driver’s insurance company refuses settlement at that point, we can file suit against the driver to obtain the compensation you deserve. Litigation and settlement negotiation can be a lengthy, complicated process. Dugan & Associates will guide you through it to obtain the settlement or verdict that you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, our team at Dugan & Associates will work to pursue fair and just compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses, physical damages, and emotional distress. Contact us today online or by telephone at 412-353-3572.