What Makes A Car Crash Worth A Big Settlement?
What makes a car crash case or a car accident case worth a big settlement?
In other words, what makes a case good and valuable versus what makes it smaller and less valuable? So, here's how it breaks down.
What Liability Looks Like
That legally speaks for determining who caused the collision, which is frequently a mix of factors. If you're stopped in traffic and someone rear-ends you, you're held at a traffic light, the traffic light is extremely clear, it's a clear day, no rain, no fog, and you've been stalled for 30 seconds, that's a very strong liability case, and it makes your case significantly more valuable.
But let's talk about reality, most cases aren't like that, let's say you catch a red light, and you somewhat hastily stop to stop at the red light but you're able to stop without hitting the guy in front of you. And then somebody behind you hits you, well in that factual scenario, the person behind your insurance company will claim that you stopped too quickly or too abruptly, and in front of a judge or jury, they may assign you some percentage of liability.
In other words, they might say, “Well, yeah we rear-ended you, it's 90 our fault, but it's 10 your fault, because you stopped suddenly, too.”
Although it is not a strong argument, it does have some success in court. Therefore, if there is any foundation for an insurance company lawyer to claim that you were partially to blame, they will do so. This is why insurance companies use attorneys to make that argument. The way the law is structured in almost every state, but most definitely in Illinois, is that the amount of your responsibility is deducted from your recovery for injuries.
Reduced By Ten Percent
Here's an example, let us say your case is worth a hundred thousand dollars, but you're found to be ten percent responsible, well that means you don't get a hundred thousand. You get ninety thousand, which is a hundred thousand reduced by ten percent for your fault. So, you can see that whether it's true or not, whether there's any sort of credible argument for the other side to say you were partially at fault, it has a big outcome on the value of your case.
Now, the other thing for you to know is that, if you are found by a judge or jury to be more than 50 at fault in your car crash case, you get nothing. That's the law in Illinois, if you're 51 responsible and the other person is 49 responsible, you just lose your case. No recovery. That's the first thing I wanted to talk to you about, what makes a car crash case worth a big settlement.
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Nature And Extent Of Your Injuries
The second thing I wanted to talk to you about is the nature and extent of your injuries and how much medical care did you get. In other words, if you have a broken leg, and believe it or not I’ve had clients like this where they broke their leg, but didn't go to a doctor at all. And then literally didn't even go to the emergency room, they later had some leg pain and went to the doctor like a year later and said, "Oh, you have a slightly out of place fracture in your leg or it's in place, and we can tell it was broken."
All injury cases require medical treatment to document the injury and no injury or illness benefits from a late diagnosis or no treatment. So even if it's just treating your pain and documenting it for case-value purposes, getting medical care after an injury is super important and it also depends on the extent of the treatment. If you have a couple of weeks of treatment versus a couple of months of treatment versus a couple of years of treatment with a doctor's opinion, you’re probably never going to get better. All of those things factor in, so the nature and seriousness of the injury itself and the amount of medical treatment you get are super important.
Amount Of Insurance Policy
The third feature is that there is some sort of left turn. Because of the insurance situation, we are frequently constrained by the policy limits of the insurance companies in more catastrophic injury situations involving automobile crashes. The legislators altered the legislation in Illinois, the state where I practice. I don't know if you've noticed, but the cost of medical care, especially the cost of physical therapy, has gone up. Getting medical care is very expensive, and I frequently represent people who get into car accidents or have other types of injury cases; their medical bills are $30,000. It used to be that you only had to have $20,000 worth of insurance, but now it's $25,000 worth of insurance.
There are other things we can do even when there is a low policy, but I would say that it is the third key aspect in whether a car accident case wins or lose. The way it works is that policy is divided up and I convince the physicians to decrease their bills and my clients always put money in their pocket even if I have to cut my attorney's fee, which I’m not crazy about doing clearly since I work very hard to help injured people. Because you can never get an insurance company with a $25,000 insurance policy to offer more than that $25,000 to settle the case, you can have a million dollars in medical bills, but if they only have a $25,000 policy, that's all they're responsible for, and the truth is that most people with $25,000 of insurance are not wealthy, so they don't own a hotel or a large business, so if we go after them up above and be successful, they won't be able to.
There are many different ways I can find additional insurance on cases, so I thought it would be important for you to know that. So those are the three things: who's at fault for the crash and how convincing is their claim that you might be partially at fault? The amount of insurance is enormous, but there are a lot of different ways that I can find additional insurance on cases. Whether you believe it or not, what kind and how serious of an injury did you sustain? How much medical attention did you receive? How well documented are your injuries? How long will they last? The next question is: What does insurance look like? How much insurance is there? And do you know whether there are any supplementary insurance policies, such as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which would protect you if someone hit you but only had a $25,000 policy?
Although carrying uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required by law in Illinois, unless you specifically sign a waiver saying you don't want it, these are things for you to consider. Even if the other party had no insurance or insufficient insurance, you may still be able to recover if you have an attorney who understands how this stuff works and is willing to take the time to investigate the case. So now you know whether your automobile accident case is potentially worth a large payout. But listen, I made a tool on my website called the settlement value calculator, and it's just a few questions.
If you have questions please give me a call, I offer a free consultation and you can reach me 24/7. I'm happy to talk to you, you can reach out to me if you have any questions, give me a call 312 500 4500.
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