How Much Money Can I Get From an Auto Accident?
April 15, 2016
Category: Auto Accidents
Money is not the most important thing on the Earth, but it helps a lot, especially after an auto accident. You’ve gotten injured, so medical bills are probably piling up. Your car may have been totaled or in need of serious repairs. On top of that, you still need to provide for your family and take care of your other daily responsibilities, which is hard to do if you are in pain or have to take off work all the time for doctor visits. Let’s be honest: money is high on the priority list after an auto accident, and you are probably curious about how big of a settlement you can get. Our Baltimore auto accident lawyers get this question all the time, and here is how we address it.
Beware of Lawyers Who Promise Numbers
The truth is, no lawyer knows how much money they will be able to recover when they take on a personal injury case. They may have some guesstimates and a general prognosis for success, but no exact numbers. The insurance company makes the final decision, and if the case goes to trial, then court will decide what’s fair. Of course, it’s possible to evaluate other similar cases for comparison, but each person’s circumstances are very different, so these generalizations can’t be accurate. So if your lawyer is making rather specific promises during the initial consultation, take it with a grain of salt.
Factors Affecting Your Payout
While it’s hard to say exactly how much money you can get from your settlement, there are ways to estimate your payout. Think about how the factors listed below relate to your accident:
- Your degree of fault in the accident
- Seriousness and long-term consequences of your injuries
- Financial hit, including medical bills, lost wages, etc.
- Direct connection between your injuries and the accident
- Your insurance limits and claim history
- Available witnesses and their trustworthiness
- Your pain and suffering
The better you stand on each of these issues, the more you may expect to recover, assuming you have a good Maryland personal injury lawyer by your side. Note that it doesn’t matter what could have happened—only the actual facts are taken into account. It’s true that you could have died in this accident, or that you may develop complications from your surgery. But these are probabilities that are unlikely to make any difference in your case.
Let’s not forget that certain expenses may need to be taken out of your settlement before you can take ownership of it. One of these expenses is attorney fees. In auto accidents and similar personal injury cases, it’s common for an attorney to work on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t have to pay your lawyer anything until the case is won. If you lose, the law firm absorbs your fees, and if you win, they typically take about 1/3 (or 33-44%) of the settlement plus other expenses. These other expenses may include things like fees for filing forms, requesting police reports, etc. So if your settlement is $1.6 million, you racked up $5,000 in fees, and your attorney takes a 33% cut, you are left with $1,067,000.
Medical Bills and Liens
Negotiating the settlement can take some time, especially if the case is going to trial. During all this time, you are likely receiving medical care for your injuries and racking up medical bills. You may be required to reimburse your health insurance provider for their portion of your medical bills. Technically, the settlement you are receiving is meant to compensate you for these expenses, and under the concept of “subrogation” you shouldn’t be compensated for the same damage twice.
In addition to paying back to your insurer, you may also be on the hook for compensating the healthcare facility where you received treatment. It’s not uncommon for healthcare providers to place liens on auto accident settlements. They attempt to recover the portion of the bill you are responsible for (after your insurance paid their share). Sometimes they can even bill you for the difference between insurance rates and hospital rates. So if a hospital charges $150 for an X-ray, but your insurance caps it at $100, the hospital may ask you to foot the bill for the remaining $50. These charges can add up quickly!
As you can see, even after you’ve won your settlement, you may still need a lawyer to help you manage and fight medical bills and liens to increase your payout. Give DRA e-Law a call or contact us online to discuss how we can help you get the compensation you deserve!