If you were involved in a car accident in Maryland that you did not cause, you will probably wonder why you should be the one to pay for the costs of your recovery. If you were not the one responsible for the wreck, why should you be the one to bear the costs of your injuries?
Soon after the crash, the insurance company that represents the driver who was responsible for the crash will probably approach you and seem to answer that very question. They will make a settlement offer that will pay you a sum of money, in exchange for your written promise to forgo your legal rights against them over the crash.
This offer might seem like a lot of money. In fact, it is designed to seem like a lot of money—enough to pay for the costs of your recovery and make you whole, once again. However, without knowing what the average settlement is for a Maryland car accident, you cannot know if this offer is a good one or not.
The personal injury and car accident attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help you decide if a particular settlement offer is a good one. However, here are some methods you can use to decide for yourself.
Every Car Crash in Baltimore is Different
The first thing to know is that every car accident in Maryland is different. Two identical rear-end collisions that cause the exact same injuries can result in drastically different settlements: if one involves a 1991 Honda Civic and the other involves a brand new Bentley. Even the people who get hurt in a crash can impact the expected settlement amount. An accountant who hurts his back in a crash will recover far less than a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.
The numerous factors that determine a settlement make it impossible to give a dollar amount that would be considered an “average” offer. By weighing those factors, though, you can estimate how much you deserve in compensation for your recovery, and therefore what would be an “adequate” amount.
Your Legal Damages
The second thing to know is that you deserve to be compensated for all of the ways you have suffered from the car crash. This goes far above and beyond just your medical bills. In addition to covering your medical costs, your compensation should also include the following.
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
- Wages you lost from the accident and from your recovery time.
- Earning potential that you miss out on because of your injuries.
- Payments for the pain you have gone through and your inability to enjoy life.
- Payments for your family's loss of your company.
Collectively, these are your legal damages and represent all of the ways that the law recognizes a car accident can impact your life. Therefore, you should be compensated for all of these pieces of the puzzle, and a settlement should account for all of them--or at least go a great distance towards satisfying you in each element.
How to Estimate Your Legal Damages
Estimating the amount of your legal damages is the best way to guess at how much you would be owed, should you file a lawsuit and take the case to trial. This will help you see if the settlement offer you are receiving is adequate, or if it will not be enough to fully compensate you.
First, find all of the medical bills you have already paid or received and add them all together. Then, ask your doctor if there are any other procedures that you will have to undergo in the future in order to make a full medical recovery, and how much those procedures will cost. Add the cost of those future medical procedures to the cost of the medical care that you have already received. The resulting number is the amount of medical expenses for which you should be reimbursed.
Next, do the same thing for your wages. Use your hourly rate and the number of hours that you missed from the accident and your recovery, or ask your boss how much you would have made, were you able to come into work. Be sure to also ask about the potential to earn more at your job, and whether your injuries have put that potential into jeopardy.
The compensation you should receive for your pain and suffering is always a difficult thing to determine because it is up to the jury to decide. However, a general rule of thumb is that it is often between two and four times the total amount of your lost wages and medical expenses.
This will give you a range of compensation amounts. Add to each end of this range the amount of property damage you have suffered, and you will have a basic idea of what you should receive in compensation for the crash.
How Insurance Companies Put Their Offer Together
Insurance companies do a similar thing when they put together their initial settlement offer. However, they use the lowest possible amount for each and every step of the process, and frequently leave out entire factors, like the cost of your future medical expenses.
The result is a low-ball offer that will only cover the initial costs of your medical care, and will almost never cover your lost wages, your pain, and the loss of life's enjoyment that you are likely to suffer from after the crash.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers Can Improve Your Settlement
By hiring a lawyer to represent you after being involved in a car accident in Baltimore, you can pressure the responsible party to take things seriously. By simply telling the insurance company that you have hired a lawyer, the initial settlement offer typically increases by several thousands of dollars.
Reach out to the personal injury attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian for help regarding a settlement offer after a car crash in the city. Contact us online.