Injuries from a car accident can change someone’s quality of life in an instant. If the injury is from a collision where you were not at fault, it’s common to seek monetary damages and get a settlement. Average settlements for personal injury car accident cases are approximately $18,400 in New Jersey. Personal injury settlements help victims cover the astronomical costs for medical care and other expenses that they incur due to a car crash.
Each personal injury claim and case is unique, so it’s important for accident victims to understand how personal injury settlements vary. Settlements can range from much lower than the average to in the millions, depending on where the crash occurred, injury type and claim process. At the Costello Law Firm, we give our clients a voice and help them get a fair settlement for personal injuries from a car accident.
Formulas for Calculating Settlements
Car accident settlements are not arbitrary numbers that are randomly assigned in a case. The legal industry uses a formula for calculating personal injury settlements from a car accident. This formula is not a specific one that is assigned to a personal injury claim in court. Instead, it’s more of a rough guideline that lawyers use to help give their clients a starting point and juries and judges an idea of what an injury may be worth.
In cases involving a personal injury from a car accident, at some point, there must be a dollar amount assigned to the injury or injuries. Lawyers and their clients begin calculating this number by:
- Medical Expenses – Expenses that the injured party incurred for treatment of crash related injuries. Medical expenses from an injury after a car accident can be costly, especially if the injury leaves a victim disabled. The legal team adds up past, current and potential future medical expenses.
- Lost Wages – Income the injured party lost due to injuries and/or medical appointments. If an injury results in the victim taking time off, the victim can include lost wages in their settlement. Some injuries that result in a permanent disability can also add future lost wages in their calculations.
- Permanent Disability – If permanent or lasting damage is caused by the crash this will be factored into the settlement.
- Property Damage – If the victim’s property was damaged or destroyed, the cost of those items may also be included in the formula. Typically these issues are resolved before the personal injury claim is settled but if it has not been, a personal injury lawyer can elect to include them with injury demands. Proof of cost is required.
- Pain and Suffering – Finally, the lawyers must also determine the amount of damages for pain and suffering. Damages for pain and suffering are calculated in different ways, sometimes multiplying the amount of the other expenses, with debilitating injuries getting more weight.
Types of Injuries in Personal Injury Cases
The biggest factor influencing the figures for average settlements for personal injury claims is the type of injury. Someone who has a minor injury from a car accident may have a much smaller settlement than a victim who has suffered a major, life-altering injury. Here are some types of injuries from car accidents that are seen in personal injury cases:
- Catastrophic Injuries – The most serious injuries from a car accident include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burns, concussions and injuries that result in blindness or disability.
- Back Injuries – The force from a car accident sometimes leaves the victim with an injury to the back vertebrae or a disc. These injuries may require physical therapy, surgery or corrective devices.
- Neck Issues – A car accident may cause a common neck injury called whiplash. Car accident victims may also have strained neck muscles or other types of neck pain.
- Internal Bleeding – A serious crash may cause internal bleeding, which may not always be evident immediately after the crash. Internal bleeding may result in organ damage or other serious health issues.
- Facial Injuries – Car accident victims may experience severe facial scarring after being in a collision. Claims for these types of injuries may include reconstructive surgery and other therapy to help heal.
- Fractures – A serious car crash may cause one or more bone fractures, especially the arms, hands, wrists, legs, feet and ankles. Victims may have to get physical therapy and have surgery to get back their mobility.
- Chronic Headaches – Headaches, which may seem like a minor side effect, may start to be a chronic problem after a crash. Chronic migraines after a collision may be a sign of more serious damage.
- Shoulder Problems – The upper body may be vulnerable to an injury in a high-speed crash. Victims with a shoulder injury may have to get extensive physical therapy to feel better after an impact.
Medical Expenses for a Car Accident Injury
The largest part of a settlement for personal injury from a car accident is the sum calculated from the victim’s medical expenses. Medical expenses include charges to the victim for medical care to treat their injury, rehabilitative care, medical devices, surgeries, diagnostic tests, medical equipment and other therapies. Medical expenses can include the patient’s current balances and bills to medical providers and future medical expenses to continue care for an injury from a car accident.
The costs for medical care from an injury may be astounding for more serious injuries, but the expenses can add up for minor injuries as well. Victims with strong health insurance plans may also incur costs for co-pays and deductibles. Some injuries from a car crash require expensive prescriptions and frequent visits to the doctor. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help recover mobility after a serious injury.
Another part of the cost of medical care for a car accident victim may be modifying the home. If someone experiences a life-changing injury that disables them, their living space may need to be modified so they can continue to get around and do their daily tasks. Attorneys can help a victim calculate the cost of home modifications due to an injury.
Pain and Suffering
Attorneys also work with car accident victims to determine the right monetary number for their pain and suffering. The reality is no amount of money will ever fix someone who is permanently disabled or emotionally scarred from a traumatic experience after a car accident, however, a settlement with a significant amount from damages for pain and suffering can offer some help to a person whose entire life has been turned upside down.
In New Jersey, there is no limit to the amount juries and judges can award victims for damages from pain and suffering. Pain and suffering come from a victim suffering from either physical pain after a crash or mental anguish. Many victims experience both types of pain when they seek monetary damages. Compensation for an injury considers a victim’s level of physical pain from the accident, their potential to enjoy life and their emotional trauma from the experience.
Average Settlements for Personal Injury Car Accident in New Jersey
Each state has specific rules and laws for personal injury claims and settlements. In New Jersey, victims have to file a lawsuit within two years after the accident. Failure to take action and get a case filed in court within the time limit may leave the victim without any way to seek recourse. Some cases in New Jersey assign fault to both parties in an accident, so it’s important for victims to have our team research their case.
Additionally, many car accident injury cases can be settled with New Jersey’s no-fault insurance standard. Victims may be required to file a claim through their own car insurance policy, no matter who was at fault. With this route, there is no money for pain and suffering. In some cases, car accident victims can bypass this stage and file an at-fault lawsuit if the injury is catastrophic.
Another part of the car accident injury settlement process is the cost of hiring a lawyer. In most cases involving settlements, attorneys take a percentage to cover the costs of legal fees and expenses from the firm on behalf of the client. Before committing to a legal team, there should be a clear, detailed disclosure of how their fees will be collected.
Legal fees can vary due to several factors. First, the length of time for the claim process can make the costs in court add up. Cases that require a lot of research may also be higher than a simple and straightforward one. Additionally, if the claim is settled quickly out of court, the fees may be lower. Cases that can’t be settled out of court may have higher legal costs due to the time and resources needed for preparing for a trial each day.
Get a Team To Fight for You
Navigating the personal injury claim process in the New Jersey court system can be confusing and frustrating, especially when you are suffering from a painful injury. Instead of trying to do it alone, let our team at the Costello Law Firm take the helm and get you a better outcome. We are dedicated to fighting for our clients and getting them the fair compensation they deserve for treatment and care after an injury sustained from a car accident. We can guide you through the process of getting the right care for your injury and dealing with the insurance companies.
Learn more about how we settle personal injury cases and help our clients achieve favorable results. Contact our team today to find out about our process and what we can do for your case.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not be considered as legal advice. For any legal matter you should always contact a licensed attorney to get a legal opinion.
Chris Costello, ESQ.
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