You need to understand what goes into calculating Alpharetta car accident settlements before you agree to terms with the at-fault driver’s insurance company in your crash case. In general, this process requires you to gather documentation of your expenses and losses, add them together, and demand a fair settlement based on the total.
However, some parts of a car accident settlement are more challenging to calculate than others. For instance, many people with serious injuries will have future treatment and care needs, and anyone hurt in a car crash can have pain and suffering damages. These losses are difficult to value without help from a car accident law firm that regularly handles similar claims.
Hiring an attorney to handle your claim and calculate a fair settlement value can ensure that you don’t settle for less than you deserve. Most personal injury law firms provide free case consultations, so you can learn more about their services for free.
Recoverable Damages in an Alpharetta Car Accident Case
After an Alpharetta car crash, state law allows you to hold the at-fault driver legally liable for the damage you suffered. Your damages could include a wide range of expenses and losses, including future damages and non-economic losses. The first step is to identify the recoverable damages you suffered.
Including all your damages is important—leaving any of them out could cost you money out of your own pocket. Make a list of all your expenses and losses to date, as well as any you might have in the future.
Examples of recoverable damages that often occur in serious car accidents include:
- Medical bills and related expenses, such as ambulance transportation
- Future treatment and care for your accident injuries
- Lost income from missed time at work because of your injuries
- Diminished earning capacity if injuries force you to stop working or work in a lower-paying position
- Property damage, such as repair or replacement of your vehicle
- Miscellaneous related expenses, including travel to specialist appointments and parking at the hospital
- Pain and suffering and other intangible damages
Documenting Your Damages
To recover money for damages like these, you will need to document them. This requires you to gather evidence to show how much you owe, what you lost, and what you have already paid.
Types of evidence that can show your expenses and losses include:
- Medical bills
- Documentation of the time you missed at work
- Past income statements
- Estimates for car repairs or replacement for a totaled vehicle
- Receipts for other related expenses
Once you have documentation of your damages, it’s time to calculate the potential fair settlement value of your case. It’s important that you do not do this until your injuries reach maximum medical recovery or you are aware of your prognosis. You need to have all your medical bills before you can get a better understanding of the true cost of your accident.
How to Calculate Your Alpharetta Car Crash Settlement Range
Calculating your current economic damages only requires you to add up your expenses and losses, which sounds simple enough. However, this only gives you a portion of your recoverable damages—it does not consider your future or non-economic damages. You should include all your recoverable damages when pursuing a claim against the driver who caused your crash. This includes estimating the value of your:
Future Expenses and Losses
If you have lasting injuries, you will likely have future care expenses and possibly income losses—even if your ongoing impairments seem relatively minor. For example, imagine they placed screws in your broken ankle. You will likely need another surgery later to remove the screws, and will probably miss work while you recover. Failing to consider the cost of future treatments could leave you paying for them out of your own pocket.
Generally, estimating future expenses and related losses requires working with experts. Law firms have networks of doctors, economists, and others they call on to help them understand a client’s prognosis, future treatment needs, ongoing care costs, and losses if they cannot return to work.
Without having access to experts, it’s difficult to calculate future damages. Of course, if you do not have any lasting injuries or require future treatment, you will not have this type of damage to calculate.
Unlike future expenses, every personal injury case has intangible losses—also known as non-economic damages. These damages could include physical pain and emotional suffering you endured, decreased quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, and other similar losses. Anyone who suffered injuries and underwent treatment will have intangible damages.
There are several accepted ways to estimate the value of intangible damages, but this is a difficult step for anyone unfamiliar with personal injury cases. Assigning a cash value to something intangible can seem impossible. However, car accident attorneys do it every day. They know how to determine the potential non-economic value of your settlement after a car crash.
It’s important that you don’t skip over these damages when you prepare your claim simply because they are too difficult to deal with. Pain and suffering damages are often equal to or worth several times more than your economic expenses and losses combined.
Why Is Calculating Alpharetta Car Accident Settlements so Important?
First and foremost, if you suffered injuries caused by a careless or reckless driver, you should not have to shoulder the financial weight of your treatment costs yourself. The at-fault driver caused the crash—therefore, they should be legally responsible for all your expenses and losses. You do not want to pay out of pocket for your injuries, and you should not have to.
State law allows Alpharetta crash victims to pursue compensation through a car insurance claim or lawsuit, so they can hold the negligent driver legally and financially responsible for their injuries. However, you only get one chance to recover compensation.
When you reach an agreement with the at-fault driver’s insurer, they will require you to sign a release before they issue a check.
This release is a contractual agreement stating that you will not:
- File any other claims with them based on this accident
- File a lawsuit against their policyholder to recover more compensation
Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side
Ensuring that you calculate a fair and accurate settlement range for your Alpharetta car accident case protects your right to appropriate compensation. Unless you work with a lawyer, you are the only one fighting for your best interests. Remember that insurance companies are not on your side. You will have to protect your own right to seek the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies do not worry about what is fair and do not care if you receive enough compensation to pay your bills. Adjusters pay out as little as possible to settle each claim to protect their employer’s bottom line. You do not need to help the insurance company keep its profits—you need to recover the money necessary to cover your expenses and losses.
How Can an Alpharetta Car Accident Lawyer Help?
The easiest way to calculate an Alpharetta car accident settlement is to let your attorney handle it. Working with a car accident law firm allows you to turn the claims process over to someone else, so you can focus on your physical treatment and recovery. It also lets someone who knows how to navigate the process do the work.
An attorney can often manage the process faster, cheaper, and with far less stress and frustration for you. A car accident attorney already knows how to build support for your claim, demand compensation, and negotiate for a fair settlement.
Your attorney can also protect your rights throughout this process. One of the most important things your lawyer will do is to manage all communication with the insurance company. You will not need to speak to an adjuster in most cases.
This keeps the insurer from using tactics to undervalue your claim, including:
- Making an early settlement offer before you understand the value of your case
- Offering only lowball payouts
- Forcing you to participate in a recorded statement
- Causing unreasonable delays in processing your claim
- Refusing to pay fair compensation
Your Attorney Can Handle Your Case From Start to Finish
Of course, your attorney will also calculate a fair settlement value range for your case to know when a settlement is fair and when to keep negotiating. Your attorney can handle this process from start to finish, including identifying your recoverable damages, documenting them, calling in experts, providing a fair value for your pain and suffering, and explaining the fair settlement range to you.
Next, your attorney can demand a fair settlement or file a lawsuit to recover compensation, which typically leads to settlement negotiations with the insurance company. During this process, your attorney can continue negotiating until the offer reaches the estimated fair settlement value range, you decide you want to settle, or there are reasons to explore other options.
What Are the Options for Recovering Fair Compensation After a Crash?
In general, there are three ways that victims of Alpharetta car accidents can recover fair compensation for their expenses and losses.
Settle the Case Through Negotiations With the Insurer
Most car accident cases do not go to trial. In fact, they do not even require suing the at-fault driver. Instead, cases settle through negotiations with the negligent party’s auto liability insurer. Seeking a settlement requires developing strong support for the insurance claim and ensuring there is enough evidence to show the value of the case.
While car accident cases do not always require filing a lawsuit, you must prepare them like they could. The stronger the evidence to support the claim, the more likely you can get a fair settlement. While other factors play a role, having a strong case makes it much easier to convince the insurance company to pay out.
Sue the Driver, Then Settle the Case Outside of Court
Even in cases where a lawsuit is necessary, most cases still settle before the trial date. Settlement negotiations often continue even after a victim files a lawsuit, when insurance companies are more likely to offer a fair settlement. They usually realize the victim is serious about recovering fair compensation, and they do not want to pay to take the case to trial if they are unlikely to win.
Many courts recommend or require mediation—a special negotiation led by a trained mediator—before a case goes to trial. Mediation cannot force a settlement, but this meeting is often effective at helping both sides agree.
Sue the At-Fault Driver and Go to Trial
Sometimes, Alpharetta car accident cases go to trial, especially if there are disputed facts in the case or too much distance between the estimated fair settlement value and what the insurer believes the case is worth.
If your case goes to trial, you will want to have a strong trial attorney representing your best interests. Your attorney can present the evidence, show what happened and who caused the accident, and ask the judge or jury to award fair compensation.
Talk to a Car Accident Law Firm in Alpharetta Today About Your Legal Options
If you suffered injuries in an Alpharetta car collision, you should not sign anything from the insurance company until you speak with an attorney. You only get one chance to recover fair compensation in a car accident case—you cannot ask for more later if you realize your medical bills and other expenses cost more than you previously thought. Therefore, you must ensure that any offer will cover your current, future, and intangible damages.
Contact an attorney for a case review. They can assess your options, determine if the insurance company is offering enough money, and take other steps to help you decide what to do next. Most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t have to pay anything up front to hire a lawyer to manage your claim.