In Los Angeles, automobiles are the most common form of transportation. Accordingly, LA is notorious for bumper-to-bumper traffic, and serious accidents are frequent. If you suffer an injury in a car accident due to another driver’s fault, the following factors will affect how much compensation you can receive in a settlement.
#1: The Severity of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries is perhaps the most critical factor in calculating the total value of your personal injury claim.
The more severe your injuries are:
- The higher your medical bills
- The more time you will have to miss from work
- The more pain and suffering you will experience
Be sure to document every medical bill and out-of-pocket cost you incur after your accident.
#2: Whether Your Injuries Are Long-Term or Permanent
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is the point when your medical condition is unlikely to improve any further. Hopefully, you will reach MMI quickly. With a bit of luck, you might make a full recovery.
Unfortunately, some people never fully recover from their injuries or recover years later. If you find yourself in this situation, you might never be able to return to your previous job. If your injuries are severe enough, you might never be able to work again. You might also need medical treatment for the rest of your life.
The younger you are and the more slowly you recover, the more these damages pile up. You might even need an expert witness to estimate your total amount of damages. You must not underestimate them because once you reach a settlement agreement, you will lose the right to demand more money for your disability.
#3: Comparative Negligence
California applies a pure comparative negligence system to car accidents and personal injuries. When more than one party is to blame for an accident, the court will apportion a percentage that equals that party’s share of fault.
For this reason, you can be confident that the opposing party will try to attribute as much blame to you as possible. Even if you were only 15% to blame, that saves the insurance company 15% of your damages.
#4: Failure to Mitigate Damages
It is a settled principle of law that you are not entitled to compensation for any damages you could have avoided through reasonable care. Lawyers call this a “failure to mitigate damages.” You can still receive compensation for damages that were not a consequence of your failure to mitigate.
The difference between failure to mitigate damages and comparative negligence is that comparative negligence occurs before or during the accident, while failure to mitigate damages occurs after the accident. For example, refusing to seek medical treatment is a failure to mitigate damages from the accident that created the need for medical attention.
#5: Insurance Policy Limits
Insurance policy limits are a limitation on the amount of your recovery unless:
- The defendant can afford to pay out of their own pocket
- You can find a second defendant (the defendant’s employer, for example, under certain circumstances)
Even if you win a judgment in court, it is useless if you cannot find a responsible party with the resources to pay it. Some defendants, however, are almost always well-insured, such as commercial truckers.
#6: The Amount You Were Earning Before the Accident
You can receive compensation for lost earnings that arise from a valid personal injury claim. The more money you were making before the accident, the more money you will lose when you miss work. Higher income means higher compensation for lost earnings and lost earning potential.
#7: Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses
How much of your own money did you have to spend as a consequence of the accident?
Following are examples of some common out-of-pocket expenses:
- Hotel accommodations for out-of-town outpatient medical treatment and consultation
- Insurance deductibles
- Medication (prescription and over-the-counter)
- Medical equipment
- Home alterations, such as a wheelchair ramp
- Towing, storage, and repair costs for your vehicle
- Car rental fees
- Child care while you are incapacitated
- Parking fees and other transportation costs (bus/train fares, for example)
- In-home care, if you have problems handling daily needs such as bathing and dressing
You might incur other expenses. The main limitations are that these expenses must be reasonable, necessary, and related to your claim.
#8: Your Own Mistakes
Mistakes you might make could damage or even destroy your car accident claim.
Following are just a few examples:
- Delaying medical treatment: A delay might allow the opposing party to claim that the accident is not what caused your injuries.
- Using social media while your claim is pending: The insurance company can use social media posts as evidence against you in court and settlement negotiations.
- Making inconsistent statements: An insurance company can use inconsistent statements against you, and they are experts at making you contradict yourself. Insist that the insurance company speak to your lawyer about your case.
- Making statements that an insurance company can twist to their own advantage: An insurance adjuster can use the seemingly smallest details to cast doubt on the validity of your claim.
A good lawyer can keep you from making these and other mistakes.
#9: The Skill of Your Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
Never underestimate the influence of a skilled lawyer. Your best bet is to assume that the defendant hired a top-tier lawyer and hire one yourself. Since the contingency fee system used by most personal injury lawyers doesn’t require you to pay any money out of your pocket, you can hire the best lawyer even if you can’t afford them.
Don’t Try to Resolve a Car Accident Claim on Your Own – Seek Help From a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance companies (and defendants) love to negotiate with unrepresented car accident victims. Remember that insurance adjusters are expert negotiators. Their sole purpose is to save as much money as possible for their employer, the insurance company. Settling or going to court on your own might only multiply your problems.
Reach out to an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney for help with your settlement.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles auto accident attorneys at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.