Should you accept a settlement after a car accident? If you have been injured in a car accident in Raleigh, this is an extremely important question. While it might be tempting to accept a quick settlement, you only get one chance to settle – and you do not want to settle for less than you deserve.
There are a variety of circumstances to take into account when deciding whether a settlement represents fair compensation. A car accident attorney at the Whitley Law Firm can help you answer the following questions to determine if accepting a settlement is in your best interest:
7 Questions to Determine If a Car Accident Settlement Is Fair
1. Do You Know How Much You Are Entitled to Recover?
When you bring a claim for injuries sustained in a car accident caused by someone else, you cannot rely on the insurance company to calculate your losses for you. If you let the insurance company decide how much it is going to pay, you will not receive a fair settlement.
You need to know how much your claim is worth. Unfortunately, accident victims who try to go it alone often overlook the full extent of damages to which they may be entitled. For this reason, it is essential to consult a lawyer if you were injured in a car accident through no fault of your own.
2. Does the Settlement Cover Your Current and Future Medical Needs?
If you were not at fault for the accident, you are entitled to compensation for all of the costs you incur as a result of the collision. This includes your current and future medical expenses. So, do you have a clear understanding of what your injuries will cost you in the months (or years) ahead?
Your settlement should provide adequate coverage for your current and future medical needs (in addition to providing compensation for your other losses). If it does not, then it is not fair.
3. Does the Settlement Cover Your Lost Income and Benefits?
In addition to providing compensation for your medical needs, your settlement should also provide compensation for the wages you have lost if your injuries prevent you from working. This includes your lost earnings beginning from the moment of the collision. Wages, salary, commissions, tips, bonuses, paid time off, and any other forms of income and benefits you receive should all be accounted for in your settlement.
4. Does the Settlement Cover Your Loss of Future Earning Capacity?
Beyond your lost income and benefits to date, your settlement should also include compensation for the loss of income you could have reasonably expected were it not for the accident. These damages are known as loss of earning capacity.
Calculating damages for loss of earning capacity is complicated. You need to account for factors including (but not limited to) your current income, anticipated raises, whether you were partially or totally disabled in the accident, and how many years you have left until retirement.
5. Is the Insurance Company Providing Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering?
Under North Carolina law, individuals who get injured in car accidents caused by other drivers’ negligence are entitled to financial compensation for their pain and suffering. However, insurance companies are unlikely to calculate these damages accurately (or they might forgo non-economic damages entirely).
Proving that you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering is not as straightforward as it is for the economic losses discussed above. Unless you hire a car accident lawyer who can present evidence of pain and suffering and negotiate on your behalf, your settlement offer almost certainly does not provide the full compensation you deserve.
6. Is the Insurance Company Providing Compensation for Your Other Non-Financial Losses?
The same is true with regard to emotional distress, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and the various other types of non-economic losses that car accident victims can recover. Depending on the seriousness of your injuries and other factors, non-economic damages could make up a significant portion of your losses after a car accident. Any settlement offer that does not reflect this is unfair.
7. How Much More Could You Win If Your Case Went to Trial?
Finally, it is important for accident victims to know how much more they may be able to recover if the case went to court. Going to trial is risky – a judgment in your favor could mean more compensation than you can recover via settlement, but you also might receive nothing.
Insurance companies are aware of this possibility as well. Although insurers don’t like to pay out on accident claims, they also recognize the financial risks posed by a finding of liability on their part.
Ultimately, your car accident settlement should fall within a reasonable range based on the damages that you could feasibly recover through the judicial process. Whether a settlement offer is fair based on this estimate is a decision you have to make based on your needs, your losses, and the advice of your attorney.
Dealing with the insurance company after a car accident is a frustrating process. Whether you are offered a settlement or the insurer refuses to play fair, you need to know your rights, have realistic expectations for a settlement, and know when it might make sense to settle.
The Whitley Law Firm has achieved millions of dollars on behalf of victims in car accident claims. We will draw upon our extensive experience and in-depth investigation of your case to determine what constitutes a fair settlement and provide you with personalized guidance on accepting the offer versus fighting for more.
Please call the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today for a free case review. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Raleigh, Kinston, New Bern, and throughout North Carolina.