How Much Should I Settle for After My Car Accident?

How Much Should I Settle for After My Car Accident?

After a serious Missouri car accident, you may be left dealing with major property damage, serious injuries, and mounting bills at a time you may be unable to work, so it is natural to wonder how much money you may be able to receive for the accident. While no amount of money can make up for the trauma, pain, and suffering you are going through, a fair settlement can pay for the damages you received, provide the care you need, and alleviate your financial burdens.

Unfortunately, insurance companies are out for profit, and they will often attempt to deny claims or try to get you to accept a settlement for less than your case is worth.  In the aftermath of the accident, too many people make the mistake of accepting whatever insurance offers without understanding what is a fair settlement amount is.

There is a wide range of settlements for car accidents, from the thousands to millions of dollars. The amount you should receive depends on the factors involved in the accident and whether the case can be settled thorough negotiations or it goes to trial.

Your car accident settlement should cover all your damages, and it is important to know what amount is fair before considering any settlement offers. Making mistakes can be costly, and most people do not have the legal knowledge to know what to settle for. Before accepting any settlement offers, it can help to consult with an experienced Missouri car accident attorney who has the resources to analyze your individual situation, investigate your case and determine what it should be worth, negotiate with insurance companies, and take your case to court if necessary for an optimum settlement.

What Compensation is Available in a Missouri Car Accident Case?

Missouri law allows settlement awards that provide compensation that covers both your economic and non-economic damages. In car accident claims, the term “damages” refers to the amount of compensation the injured person, called the plaintiff, is entitled to receive from the negligent parties, the defendants in the case. Missouri considers two categories of damages — compensatory and exemplary.

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate you for economic and non-economic losses from the accident.

Economic damages are for monetary costs resulting from the accident, including:

  • Medical, hospital, and rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages and earning potential
  • Property damage, such as repairing or replacing your vehicle
  • Funeral expenses, in case of a wrongful death.

Noneconomic damages provide compensation for losses that do not have a specific monetary value, but negatively impact your life, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium and quality of life.

Exemplary damages. Also called “punitive damages,” these are awarded in rare cases to punish the defendant for actions that show conscious disregard or complete indifference for the well-being and safety of others. A judge must decide that punitive damages should be awarded, and 50% of the award will go to the State of Missouri.

To determine a potential settlement value, insurance companies use methods such as combining the total of medical expenses, projected future medical expenses, lost wages, and projected future lost income. The resulting sum is then multiplied by a noneconomic pain and suffering value to come up with a projected settlement amount.

How Much Should a Car Accident Settlement Be in Missouri?

If your car accident is minor, neither party is seriously injured, and the vehicles do not sustain major damage, the award amount will be lower. Since there are no costs of medical treatment, and few lost wages, the settlement will just need to cover reimbursement for necessary repairs to vehicles and other damaged property.

However, if the accident causes serious injuries or deaths and major property damage, the settlement may sometimes range into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.  In this case, the settlement amount typically is more than the limits of an insurance policy and is likely to involve a personal injury lawsuit.

Missouri does not impose a cap or limit on the amount of damages that can be recovered for a car accident. The value of your individual car accident case depends on many factors, including:

  • The severity of your injuries and damages: The more serious your injuries, the longer they will affect you and your ability to work, and the more care you need, the more your case is worth. If the injuries are permanent and involve a great deal of pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages, the value of the case increases. The costs of property damage are also considered, as is your age, family situation, and earning power.
  • The amount of insurance and assets available. Insurance policies have exclusions and coverage limits. If the damages go beyond the limits of your insurance, your attorney would have to go after the at-fault parties in the accident to receive the additional amount. If the defendant has significant assets, such as a large corporation, the settlement may be more.
  • The amount of fault for each party. Missouri considers contributory negligence, so the more you are at fault, the lower your case’s value. According to Missouri RsMo. statute 537.765, you can still receive compensation if you did something to contribute to the accident, but your settlement amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault you are found to have.
  • The quality of the evidence. If there is clear evidence of wrongdoing, such as if the defendant was videoed speeding through a red light, the settlement is likely to be higher than if there were questions as to how the accident happened and who was at fault.
  • Whether the case goes to court. Juries tend to be sympathetic to severely injured people, so if the case goes to court the settlement amounts are likely to be higher. However, trials are costly, and there is no guarantee that you will win, so it is usually preferable to settle out of court.
  • The skill of your attorney. The experience, skill, investigative ability, and negotiating power of your attorney also plays a role in determining settlement amounts.

Get Help from a Missouri Car Accident Lawyer You Can Trust

After a serious car accident, you can trust the Birk Law Firm to help determine how much you should settle for after a car accident. Attorney Kelvin Birk is a Certified Public Accountant as well as a lawyer, and this combined expertise allows our law firm to provide an especially high level of service. When we sign on as your personal injury lawyers, you can count on us for personal, compassionate attention as well as aggressive legal counsel. We work tirelessly to establish liability and put together a strong case to achieve the best settlement award possible.

Do not delay, as Missouri has a statute of limitations, a deadline of five years from the day of the car accident to bring a lawsuit (RSMo. §516.120), or the courts are likely to refuse to hear your case.

We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency basis so there are no fees to you unless and until we win your case. Call us today at 573-332-8585 to get started.

FREE CONSULT 573-332-8585

Attorney Kelvin Birk

Attorney Kelvin Birk

Kelvin Birk is a lawyer as well as a certified public accountant, with more than 30 years of experience in accounting and tax and business consulting, and more than 20 years of experience in numerous legal matters. This combined expertise allows our law firm to provide a level of service above that of other firms. Whatever your legal situation, your attorney at Birk Law Firm can counsel you as to the tax implications. We have experience in providing myriad legal representation services to residents of southeast Missouri and other areas.. [ Attorney Bio ]