Recovering from the physical, emotional, and financial effects of a car crash is no easy feat. And holding an at-fault driver accountable for your losses can be just as hard. Before you jump into the fight to recover what you have lost, you might want to know the average settlements for car accident lawsuits in Washington State. Each accident is unique, but the experienced lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner can advise you on what to expect and aggressively protect your rights.
What Should a Car Accident Settlement Cover?
Any at-fault driver who causes you harm in an accident should pay damages to make you as whole as possible. You can choose to sue, or you can settle with the driver or their insurance company. A good settlement should reflect what you could win if you took your case to trial.
When you file a car accident lawsuit, damages you can receive include:
- Economic damages: These cover all related and verifiable financial losses, including medical costs, property repair or replacement costs, wage loss, and loss of employment or business opportunities; and
- Noneconomic damages: These less tangible losses include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of society, destruction of a parent-child relationship, injury to reputation, mental anguish, and more.
For noneconomic damages, Washington State law does not allow the courts to award you more than the result of multiplying 0.43 by your average annual wage and by your life expectancy.
It is important that you give yourself the best chance to recover as much as possible in each category of damages. Your lawyer can make sure all damage figures (including your average annual wage and life expectancy) are fairly calculated to maximize your recovery.
Are There Limits to My Recovery?
Yes, there are limits to the amount of compensation you can recover after a car accident. Limits apply if you file a car accident lawsuit in court, and limits apply if you file a car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance.
Limits When Filing an Insurance Claim
In many cases, a car insurance settlement can take you only as far as the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. In Washington State, all drivers must have auto insurance, but their liability insurance does not need to cover more than the following:
- $10,000 to pay for damages to another person’s property,
- $25,000 to compensate for the injury or death of one other person, and
- $50,000 to compensate for the injury or death of all other people.
You may or may not be able to receive more compensation from the individual driver. Your lawyer can help you exhaust all possible resources to help you receive the compensation amount you deserve.
Limits When Filing a Lawsuit
In addition to the above-mentioned limit on noneconomic damages, the law reduces car accident trial awards by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault in an accident. You must prepare yourself for a defendant’s attempts to pin fault for the accident on you. These types of attacks can be draining when you are trying to heal. This is one of the many reasons it is important to have a skilled attorney who knows how to thwart each argument from the defendant.
Average Car Accident Costs
The value of your car accident case depends heavily on the severity of your injuries and property damage and how those damages affect your life. Because each accident is unique, any “average settlement amount” will likely not reflect what you can expect in your case. But if you are looking for a rough example of what a case might be worth, The Intelligent Driver notes these recent average car accident costs:
- $8,900 for car accidents involving minor injury and property damage,
- $78,000 for car accidents involving a disabling injury but no fatalities, and
- $1,410,000 for car accidents involving fatalities.
These figures might help you steer clear of insultingly low settlement offers from an insurance company, but they offer little help in calculating an accurate value for your specific claim.
If you want the best idea about what settlement amount is fair for your claim, speak to an attorney. A personal injury attorney knows what documents to review and questions to ask to give you the most accurate settlement estimate at every stage of your case.
How Can I Help My Settlement?
Your attorney has sophisticated legal tools to unearth the best evidence available for your case, but there is a lot you can do to help increase your case’s settlement value. Steps that can help your settlement include:
- Providing your attorney with all accident reports,
- Gathering and providing your attorney with all witness information,
- Following all medical advice,
- Providing your lawyer with any accident and injury photographs you have,
- Staying within your healthcare provider’s work and activity restrictions,
- Gathering and providing your attorney with all related receipts and invoices,
- Providing your attorney with detailed job descriptions and wage records,
- Keeping detailed notes regarding how your life has changed since the accident, and
- Providing your lawyer with all related medical records.
Each piece of evidence can help your lawyer maximize your damages and diminish your fault in the eyes of the insurance company and court. With this information, your lawyer can also better assess and help provide any additional medical or financial assistance you might need to make you whole.
Do not be discouraged if you do not have all of the information listed above. Provide as much as you can, and tell your attorney as much as you know. If there are gaps in your documentation or your story, an experienced attorney knows what legal methods to use to flesh out your evidence and build up the strongest arguments in your favor.
Good Lawyers Bring Good Settlements
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we do not want you to settle for less. We want you to settle for what you deserve. We can get you what you deserve. We have more than 40 years of experience, and our top-rated Washington lawyers have been winning record verdicts and settlements for years. If you need a helping hand, contact us today.