When it comes to civil litigation in the United States, two axioms seem to stand the test of time. The first is that America is a litigious society. The second is that most personal injury cases are settled out of court. In fact, this is often how car accident cases are resolved in California.
In this article experienced civil litigators from the Los Angeles law firm LawPLA share some insight into the key settlement factors in LA car accident cases.
What is a settlement in a motor vehicle injury case?
If you think about it, a settlement in a civil matter is the equivalent of a plea agreement in a criminal case.
Lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant (or defendant’s insurance company) in a car crash case gather evidence and review the facts of the matter. Based on their findings, they engage in formal discussions to try to reach a legal agreement called a settlement. If they are successful, the case won’t go to trial and you (the injured party) will be compensated for your financial and non-economic losses.
The driving factors in Los Angeles auto accident settlements
In California, a mandatory settlement conference provides a forum for serious discussions about resolution of a car accident injury claim without the time, expense and stress of going to trial.
This is where attorneys try to hash out how much compensation you should get. During these deliberations they’ll consider the unique circumstances of your case. These include:
Who was at fault in the motor vehicle accident?
To secure a settlement for you, your attorney must be able to show that someone else caused the crash in which you were injured. Specifically, he or she must able to show that someone else caused the motor vehicle accident by engaging in careless or reckless behavior. Examples of careless or reckless behavior include speeding, running a red light or stop sign, or using their phone while driving.
But what if you were also at fault? What if you failed to yield the right of way when the speeding driver hit you in the intersection? If there is evidence that you were partially at fault, your settlement award will be determined accordingly.
The strength of your car accident injury case
Speaking of evidence, the more you have to back your claim, the better. The following are usually used as evidence in a car accident injury claim:
- The police report
- Witness statements
- Photographs of the scene
- Pictures of your injuries
- Medical records
- Medical bills
Keep in mind that this is hardly an exhaustive list. The proof of your claim may differ based on the specific circumstances of your case.
The type and extent of your injuries
Clearly, the type of injury you sustained is one of the most important factors taken into account during settlement talks. For example, did your Los Angeles car crash cause a concussion, traumatic brain injury, whiplash or broken bones? Did you have internal injuries requiring surgery? Was your spine affected, or were you fortunate to escape with “minor” injuries such as bumps, bruises and lacerations?
The severity of your injury or injuries is also taken into account. Did your injury result in permanent disability? Will you be able to make a full recovery, or only a partial one? Will you need ongoing treatment or care?
These are all important questions, and the answers help determine the settlement amount.
Additional considerations in a California car crash injury settlement
Generally, attorneys negotiating a car crash injury settlement will also consider:
- How long you have been out of work
- Whether you can go back to work
- Whether you can go back to the same job or a different one based on your disability (if any)
- Whether the at-fault driver was insured and the type of his or her coverage
- The extent of your non-economic losses (if any)
- Proof of non-economic losses
- Any other relevant factors
The civil litigation team here at LawPLA has plenty of experience negotiating car crash injury settlements – and we are fully committed to fighting for you. This commitment is critical because insurance companies also employ highly skilled lawyers. A big part of their job is to negotiate the lowest possible settlements in personal injury cases.
Don’t leave anything to chance. Reach out to our qualified civil litigators by using the contact page on our website. Or you can call our office to schedule a free consultation, today.