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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

Factors that Affect a Car Accident Settlement

Most personal injury claims that arise out of car accidents end with an insurance settlement. Injured individuals seek compensation for the costs of their medical bills, lost wages, and lost quality of life from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

With this in mind, it is impossible to know exactly how much money you might recover in these settlements. A number of factors that affect a car accident settlement may be in play. Understanding these factors can help you to estimate how much compensation you might expect to receive after a car accident that is another person’s fault.

Determining Blame for the Accident

Injured people carry the burden of proving that another driver was to blame for the crash that resulted in their losses. The law never presumes fault for an accident and injured individuals must act on their own to gather the relevant evidence.

Courts hearing car accident cases will always examine the actions of all involved parties to assign blame. Under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules § 1411, those courts will use the concept called comparative negligence when determining fault for a crash. This means that a court will reduce an injured person’s compensation by the percentage of fault that they are deemed to have. By understanding this concept, it is possible to estimate the percentage of demanded compensation that a person might collect following a crash.

The Extent of a Person’s Damages

Proving responsibility for a car accident is only one part of a comprehensive claim. It is just as important to be able to show how that incident changed one’s life. People can only collect compensation for the damages that they are able to connect to their experiences following the crash. As a result, being able to accurately measure one’s losses is a key factor in estimating a car accident settlement. These losses typically include:

  1. Medical bills for all past and estimated future medical care

  2. Payments for lost quality of life that may include pain, suffering, and emotional trauma

  3. Lost wages due to missing time at work or permanent disability

An attorney could take the lead and gather relevant medical documents and bills. They could also estimate future lost wages and medical costs.

The Defendant’s Insurance Protection

Because the concept of a settlement will involve striking a deal with a driver’s insurance company, the maximum level of compensation depends upon the amount of insurance coverage that a defendant carries. For example, someone might accumulate $30,000 worth of medical bills that their own policy does not cover. If the defendant’s insurance policy has a limit of $20,000, this will be the policy limit and the maximum compensation that a plaintiff could recover from an insurance settlement.

This does not mean that a plaintiff could only recover $20,000 for their losses. It is always possible to still hold the at-fault driver personally responsible for the remainder of the compensation that is owed. This could come about as the product of a separate settlement or a trial verdict.

There Are Numerous Factors That Affect a Car Accident Settlement

It is never possible to definitively predict how much compensation you will receive following a car accident. However, with a bit of knowledge about the law and the ability to properly gather the relevant evidence, it is possible to formulate a broad estimate.

The level of a defendant’s insurance protection, the extent of your losses, and the apportionment of blame for a crash are all factors that affect a car accident settlement. Speaking with a lawyer could help you better understand the compensation that you could receive following a car crash.


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