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Auto Accident Settlement Offers: When is it Enough?

With over six million accidents per year, and with over 75,000 injuries on Michigan’s roads in 2018, our highways and roads are dangerous places and they are getting busier.

The statistics of being involved in an auto accident are high and so is the likelihood that you will have to make a claim. With many claims being settled out of court, how do you know when an offer is good enough and that you should accept it?

The Basics

It always helps to know what to do in the immediate aftermath of any car accident. Ensuring any injured parties receive medical treatment, collecting all relevant contact information from other parties, and recording the scene of the accident with photographs. All these basic steps can help make the insurance or legal process easier and quicker.

The Law

Michigan state laws require that the drivers of all vehicles (motorcycles are not included in this law) carry no fault insurance. Normally, blame is apportioned 50-50 between the drivers involved in the accident and your own insurance company will cover all costs that you incur such as medical bills and lost salary.

However, where there is obvious liability of another driver – where they have broken state motoring laws or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol – then you may be able to pursue a claim against that party for further damages,

The Problems

In some cases, your no fault insurance may not cover all the financial costs incurred as a result of an auto accident. The other, and far more common, problem is when the settlement offer from the insurance company falls short of your expectations and needs.

Insurance adjusters have a duty to their company – and their company’s shareholders – to pay out as little as possible on every claim. This is the very nature of the insurance business.

The Options

As soon as you encounter an issue with your car insurance company, or where there is obvious liability on the part of another driver, then it is time to call in experienced personal injury lawyers.

In the case of a problematic initial settlement offer from your insurance company, the team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has many years experience in dealing with all the leading insurance companies in Michigan and can negotiate to have that settlement offer increased.

Where liability lies with another party, we can prepare a claim and pursue a settlement from that driver’s insurance company or, if necessary, prepare to take them to court to obtain compensation. The additional compensation we may seek on your behalf is covered by two broad areas:

  • Non-economic damages. If your injury has resulted in additional pain and suffering or a reduction in the quality of your life (for example, if the injuries have left you unable to walk for distances or climb stairs) then we can ask the court or insurance company to award compensation for that.
  • Excess expenses. If the effects of your injury have led to extra expenses (for example, travel costs for treatment or having to adapt your home to help with mobility issues) then we would evidence these costs and ask for recompense.

The Bottom Line

Perhaps the most common question asked by potential new clients is “how much is my claim worth?” There is no average amount that we can point to as representative of how car accident claims pan out. Every case – and every client – brings a set of unique factors to the equation.

We will give you an honest appraisal of your own circumstances and case and advise you as to what is the best way to proceed. The obvious bottom line is that you do not want to be one single cent out of pocket. So you should expect to have all medical bills, car repair costs, and lost salary covered. We would also hope that any excess expenses can also be claimed back. For many people, they may have lengthy trips for physical therapy or for specialist medical treatment.

Where the amounts awarded can vary is when it comes to those non-economic damages, Please be aware that you cannot pursue non-economic damages if the court decides you were more than 50% at fault for the accident.

There is currently no cap on pain and suffering damages resulting from a car accident. However, there are moves to cap this at $1 million which is not a large amount when you consider some victims of car accidents will need lifelong care.

The Summary

Saying when a settlement offer or damages award is enough is an impossible question to answer. Your initial benchmark should always be ensuring that you do not make any financial losses due to your accident or injury. The other elements to any award are going to depend on the severity of your injuries and also how long the effects of any injury will impact on your life.

Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is one of the leading personal injury firms in Michigan. Our long experience in dealing with insurance companies and in litigation will stand you in good stead no matter the level of your car accident claim.

We offer a free initial appointment to evaluate your case and to advise as to the next steps. We also never charge a fee unless we win your case. You can schedule a consultation by calling us at (866)-466-9912.

Steve is a former criminal justice worker. With degrees in psychology and social work, he spent most of his life helping those with addiction issues before switching to criminal justice. He was responsible for writing court reports and advising judges on sentencing. He also supervised offenders, including sex offenders, in the community and carried out risk assessments and probation appraisals. He now lives in SE Asia and is working on his 5th novel.

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