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No one wants to get involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, for nearly everyone who gets in a crash, there is not a choice: It simply happens, and you have to deal with the results.
Once the dust settles and you are getting the medical care that you need to recover from the accident, you will begin to wonder who will be responsible for the costs of the crash. If you were not the one who caused the accident, then there is no reason why you should be the one to pay the bills.
This is typically the point in the process where your insurance company or the insurance company of the driver who hit you will come forward with a settlement offer. This offer often comes with assurances that it will cover the costs of your medical bills and other expenses from the crash. However, unless you know what the average settlement offer is for a car accident in Pennsylvania, it can be impossible to tell if the offer you are getting will be enough.
This is yet another reason to have skilled personal injury attorneys, like those at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian, at your side from the outset. Our lawyers have seen thousands of settlement offers, so we know a good one when we see it.
Every Car Accident is Different
Of course, every car accident case is different, and this makes it tricky to judge a specific settlement offer, or to even label what is an “average” settlement. Identical car accidents that total your car will lead to radically different settlement offers if your car was a 1988 Ford Bronco or a brand new Lamborghini. Likewise, if you break an arm in a crash in Philadelphia, an average settlement offer would be much lower if you are a plumber than if you are a standout pitching prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies.
This makes it almost impossible to call a settlement “average.” However, by accurately predicting how much your recovery will cost you, and by knowing and understanding how settlement offers are computed by insurance companies, it is possible to come up with a range of settlement offers that would be average for your specific circumstance.
Estimating Your Legal Damages
Your legal damages are all of the ways that you have suffered in a car accident, and should be fully covered in a settlement offer. They include the cost of fixing the property damage you have suffered, the price of your medical bills, the amount of wages you have lost during your recovery and that you stand to lose from the effects of your injuries, and the pain and suffering you have been put through.
Many of these legal damages can be fairly easily determined. These are economic damages, and can easily be stated in a dollar amount. They include the cost of your past and future medical bills, your lost wages and earning potential, and your property damage. By keeping your records and receipts, you can have a very good idea of what your economic damages were from a car accident in Pennsylvania.
However, there are also noneconomic damages, which are much more difficult to put into a dollar amount. These are meant to compensate you for your pain and suffering, and to compensate your family for their loss of consortium. These noneconomic damages are often the ones that make it difficult to determine exactly how much you should get in a settlement offer.
A good way to estimate what a settlement may be for your car accident in Pennsylvania is to do the following steps:
- Add your medical bills and lost wages together,
- Multiply this number by two, to get an estimate of your pain and suffering damages,
- Add together all of your economic damages, including your medical bills and lost wages,
- Add the total of your economic damages to your pain and suffering damages.
This gives you the lower range of what an average settlement should look like. To find the higher end of the range of the settlement offer, repeat these steps, but multiply your medical bills and lost wages by four to get your pain and suffering damages.
This will give you a range of possible settlement offers. An average settlement would move higher or lower in this range depending on:
- The permanence and severity of your injuries,
- How long it will take to recover,
- Whether you were partially at fault for the crash, and
- Whether the driver who caused the accident was acting particularly poorly, like driving while drunk.
How Insurance Companies Come Up With Their Settlement Offer
Insurance companies do a similar process every time they receive a claim for a car accident. However, they make a point of using the lowest possible dollar amount for every step of the process, and rarely know of the effect that you injuries are having on your daily life. This results in a settlement offer that is woefully inadequate to suit your current and future needs, because your insurance company rarely accounts for the pain and suffering that you are going through, and typically will not include the wages that you are losing while you recover.
Even after they come up with this lowball number, insurance companies will still likely offer you something even lower if they think you will take it. After all, insurance companies are for-profit companies that stand to maximize their profit by reducing the amount they pay out in settlements, including yours.
Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys Improve Your Settlement
By hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you even before you get a settlement offer from the insurance company, you can ensure you get an offer that will compensate you for your losses. The personal injury and car accident attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help guide you through the process. Contact them online for the legal help you need.