Car Accidents and Personal Injury: Settlement Amount Expectations

by Julien G. Lamothe

With around 6 million accidents every year across our nation and with 768 fatalities on Louisiana’s roads in 2018, our highways have never been more dangerous. Driving becomes riskier each year as the amount of vehicles increases, and much of our road infrastructure deteriorates.

When someone is injured in a car accident, they may face multiple and mounting expenses. If they have prolonged periods off from work, the loss of salary can be significant. Any injuries that require medical attention also leads to growing medical bills.

In circumstances where injuries are more severe, there may also be ongoing or even lifelong medical treatment and care needed, and those injuries may impact other areas of your life.

How Much Could You Receive in Damages?

There is no set amount that you can receive in an auto accident case. In normal circumstances, the at-fault driver’s insurance company covers your claim. Louisiana requires all drivers to carry liability coverage as part of their car insurance policy. The minimum amounts you must hold are:

• $15,000 where one person has suffered injuries in the accident
• $30,000 where two or more people received injuries in one accident
• $25,000 to cover any damage to property

In many cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company seeks to settle out of court. This is because a lump-sum offer in the early stages can often be tempting, and it may save the insurance company a lot of money. The standard economic damages typically covered in a settlement offer include:

• Any initial medical costs for injuries received in the accident
• Future medical costs where the injuries – or effects from the injuries – require ongoing or permanent treatment and care
• Loss of wages from the time of the accident to the time of the settlement
• Loss of future wages if the injury prevents a quick return to work
• Possible compensation for any reduced ability to earn
• Costs of repairs needed to your vehicle

Several things can make you eligible for non-economic damages, including:

• Pain and suffering
• Mental anguish (or psychological after-effects from the crash)
• Physical impairment
• Loss of certain qualities of life
• Loss of companionship.

Not only are non-economic damages the hardest to prove and evidence, but they can also be challenging to calculate. Awards can vary and can be anywhere from 1 to 5 times the total of your economic damages award.

Caps and Time Limits

The statute of limitations in Louisiana is one year from the date of the accident. As far as award caps are concerned, there really are only two that may affect your claim:

• If the accident involved vehicles owned by a government agency, there is a cap of $500,000
• If your injuries are exacerbated while in the hospital due to negligence, any medical malpractice suit also has a cap of $500,000

There is also the question of comparative fault. If, for example, the court decides you were 30% to blame, you would lose 30% of the award made.

Hire an Attorney

Engage an experienced law firm as soon as possible after an accident. If you want to settle with the insurance company, your lawyer’s experience means you will likely receive a better offer than if you acted alone.

If you wish to pursue a claim in court, a personal injury lawyer at our law firm can help gather the evidence needed to successfully win non-economic damages, including expert medical testimony when needed. This can make a significant difference when it comes to the final award amount.

Filing legal documents is complicated, and the costs add up quickly. Venturing into court on your own without experience in personal injury cases may lead to poor results and money out of your pocket. Trust a lawyer who is experienced in car accidents and personal injury cases to take on your case and move your claim forward.

Final Thoughts

If you have been injured in an auto accident, the last thing you need is the stress and worry of dealing with insurance companies and filing with the court.  Contact our experienced team at Lamothe Law Firm can alleviate the burden from your shoulders.

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