If you’ve been in a car accident and are speaking with an insurance company attorney, the worst thing you can do is accept the first offer made to you. Insurance companies are in the business of paying as little as possible for claims, not the most. So, to be sure that you receive a fair and complete settlement, the best strategy is to consult with a car accident attorney early in the process.
What Goes into the Amount of My Settlement?
A personal injury lawsuit or settlement should put you in the same position you would have been in had the injury not happened. So, a complete settlement will factor in every cost, every expense, and damage, special and general, that happened to you as a consequence of the accident. Some of these include:
Special or Economic Damages
Special damages refer to specific, quantifiable damages such as:
- Medical bills
- Hospital costs
- Drug costs
- Lost wages – past and future
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of quality of life
- Property damages
- Transportation costs
You will usually need to prove the amounts of your special damages with receipts and similar proof of loss.
General or Non-economic Damages
General damages are much harder to calculate because they are not as concrete as special damages. They include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium (that is, loss of marital relations)
- Loss of services
The final type of damages to be considered in valuing your case is punitive or exemplary damages.
Standard of Proof for Damages in Texas
Texas requires that proof of special and general damages meet a preponderance of the evidence standard. Shown as a number, this would be 51%, or one could say, the way you claim it happened is more likely than not the way it did happen. On the other hand, punitive damages must meet a higher burden of proof. The standard is referred to as “clear and convincing” evidence. As a number, it would be more like 75%.
How to Calculate Your Damages
Some damages are easy to calculate. Your special or economic damages are calculated – and proven – by presenting receipts, W-2s showing former wages, costs for equipment, therapy, and transportation. These are all items that you will have actual concrete evidence of the exact cost. General damages, which are not based on specific out-of-pocket costs, are far more difficult to calculate. This calculation is where your attorney can be of great help. The attorney you choose should be one with sufficient experience in car accident cases to be familiar with the values according to the types of non-economic damages you suffered. These attorneys will know what the usual pain and suffering figure is in cases like yours, as well as amounts for mental anguish and other hard to ascertain damages. Also familiar with the assessment of punitive damages in car accident cases, your attorneys will know whether you are likely to receive them in your case. All of these factors contribute to the value of your case.
Contact a Texas Car Accident Attorney Today!
For all of these reasons, the best first step you can take in any car accident is to contact knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who concentrate their practice on car accident cases. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and initial consultation.
We offer free case reviews and consultations so that you can find out all about your claim. The attorneys at Rose Sanders Law Firm, PLLC, can handle all aspects of your personal injury claim. We will help you seek compensation for your medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and other hardships. Our experienced car accident lawyers fight for injured car accident clients across Texas from our offices in Houston, Dallas and McAllen.