On average, there are 6 million auto accidents in the US every year. 3 million people are injured in those accidents, while 2 million drivers suffer permanent injuries. Auto accidents in the US result in 6% fatalities, 27% non-fatality injuries, and 72% property damage.
If you get involved in an auto accident, one of the most challenging things is estimating the cost of damages. Even in auto accidents with no injury claims, there is a need to determine pain and suffering.
The importance of hiring an auto accident lawyer can’t be overemphasized given the complexity of auto accident injuries. However, in case you are wondering how auto injury cases are valued, here’s what you need to know.
Personal injury claims should include reimbursement for loss of income, medical bills as well as compensation for “pain and suffering”. The two main formulas used to calculate auto accident compensation include;
a. Daily rate method
Some insurance companies use daily rates to calculate pain and suffering aspects of personal injury claims. A fixed-rate is usually assigned on a weekly or a daily basis that an insured continues to suffer because of their accident. The daily rate uses the per diem principle, where a rate considers all expenses and additional considerations.
When coming up with a daily rate, it should be in line with the income you have lost because of injury as well as other direct and indirect expenses you incur daily as you recover from your injury. You must be in a position to articulate the daily rate you select for it to be considered reasonable by a jury or judge.
b. Multiplier method
The multiplier method multiplies a claimant’s actual damages (lost wages and medical bills) with a certain no (multiplier). For a long time, the multiplier had been set as three for personal injury cases. So, if your total damages amounted to $10,000, your compensation would be $30,000. However, insurance companies rarely agree to a fixed multiplier today as a fair way to quantify any pain or suffering because of a personal injury accident.
Today, the multiplier method uses complex software programs that almost always undervalue claims. The programs consider the seriousness of injuries, aggravating circumstances as well as the time to recovery as the main factors dictating compensation for pain and suffering. In simple terms, an accident victim with multiple broken bones that demand multiple surgeries and extended recovery times will be taken to have suffered more pain and suffering compared to an accident victim with little to no injuries.
The multiplier for a typical accident is between 1 and 2, while serious accidents can attract a multiplier that is three, four, or more. Aggravating circumstances such as an auto accident caused by intoxicated drivers attract higher multipliers. It’s important to note that insurance adjusters usually consider the medical treatment you receive vs. the injuries you suffer when selecting reasonable multipliers. For this reason, seeking physical therapy or chiropractic care for soft tissue injuries won’t increase the multiplier.
c. Daily rate & Multiplier
Depending on individual cases, both methods can yield different results. It’s therefore advisable to consider both and find the one that suits you best. You should also adjust expectations to cater for factors like severity of injuries, other parties to the case, permanency of injury, witness testimony, etc.
Considering the above information will ensure you get a reasonable claim value. However, you are bound to meet some hurdles if you choose to handle your personal injury case on your own. For instance, it can be a challenge acquiring evidence to support damages or evidence for proving liability. This is where a good compensation attorney will come in handy.
An experienced auto accident lawyer is also the best-placed person to negotiate with lien holders i.e., those who get paid before you out of a settlement or judgment. He/she will also be able to get you the best/highest settlement possible. Negotiating settlements isn’t easy. In most cases, individuals who choose to negotiate their own settlements end up with unfair compensation amounts. You can’t possibly be able to determine the value of your case with unmatched certainty if you are not a compensation attorney.
Specialization and experience is “key” which is why you need a law firm like Stambaugh Law with 29+ years getting high compensation amounts for auto accident victims in York, PA, and surrounding environs.