How Much Can I Sue a Negligent Driver for After an Accident in Texas?
You may sustain severe injuries and costly property damage if you get involved in an auto accident. Medical treatment and physical rehabilitation costs may not be cheap, and you may also lose your ability to work for some time. That’s why you must pursue compensation from the negligent party to help you meet these costs and cover other financial losses.
The amount you can receive in the car accident settlement varies, depending on various factors, as will be discussed later. However, information from the Insurance Information Institute shows that the average car accident settlement for bodily injury was $22,734 in 2022. Working with a skilled San Antonio personal injury lawyer can maximize your odds of receiving this or more.
The legal experts can assess your case and the circumstances surrounding the accident. They can also offer honest advice about settlement amounts and how to present a solid case to enhance your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
What Does a Personal Injury Settlement Include?
There are three main categories of damages you can recover in a car accident settlement:
Economic damages are accident-related expenses or losses that can accurately be quantified and proven with receipts, bills, and other documentation.
An experienced San Antonio auto accident attorney can help you calculate economic damages under this category, which include costs for:
- Current and future medical bills: If you sustain injuries in an accident, you will likely need emergency care, hospitalization, medication, ongoing therapy, and in-home care. The Texas Department of Insurance requires drivers to carry a minimum auto insurance amount of $30,000 per injured person to cover bodily injury.
- Property damage to your vehicle and other assets: You need compensation to help you meet the costs of repairing your car and replacing personal items damaged in the accident. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association reports show the average auto liability claim for property damage in 2013 was $3,231.
- Lost wages: Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be unable to work for some time. You can prove this using letters from your physician and employer about your missed time from work.
- Future lost income and loss of earning capacity: You deserve to collect compensation if you can no longer work in the same capacity you did before the accident.
Non-economic damages are losses that are difficult to put a price tag on, yet adversely affect your life, forcing you to modify your lifestyle. They exist to compensate you for the emotional trauma and distress you and your family have to endure after a traumatic accident and often include costs of:
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium and enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Embarrassments and humiliation
- Inability to engage in recreational activities
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
Calculating Pain and Suffering in Texas
Courts in Texas recognize intangible losses and allow victims to recover compensation for their pain and suffering. Your auto accident lawyer in San Antonio will negotiate a fair settlement value if the case doesn’t go to court. Alternatively, the jury will decide what your pain and suffering is worth if your case goes to trial.
Courts and lawyers use two methods to calculate non-economic damages:
- The multiplier method: The value of the economic damages is multiple by a multiplier, which is a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries. An aggressive personal injury attorney in San Antonio can argue for the highest multiplier possible.
- The per diem method: The method entails deciding on an amount of the most appropriate compensation per day and multiplying the amount by the number of days you were in recovery. If full recovery is impossible, you will receive compensation for the time it took to attain maximum medical improvement.
The multiplier method is often used for long-term and chronic injuries, while the per diem one is used for short-term injuries. Both approaches rely on multiple variables and have their sets of advantages. Your San Antonio auto accident lawyer can fight to ensure the method used benefits you and helps you recover the maximum compensation you deserve.
What Factors Determine a Car Accident Settlement Amount?
High settlement amounts often accompany high losses after a car accident for various reasons. There’s no one size fits all approach to car accident settlements and no actual average value for the compensation you can receive. However, crucial factors that influence the overall value of your compensation claim are:
- The severity of the injuries
- The length of your hospital stay
- Cognitive, physical, and behavioral impairments
- Types and intensity of physical rehabilitative therapy you need
- Whether you become permanently disabled or the extent of scarring
- Interference with your ability to work
- The emotional impact of the accident
Your settlement amount may also increase if the court awards punitive damages. These damages punish the at-fault party for their negligence and warn others not to engage in the same behavior that caused the accident leading to your injuries.
Shared Fault Rule
Texas has a modified comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. Under this rule, the amount of damages you can recover can be reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if you were 20% at fault, your damages would be reduced by 20%. You will receive no compensation if your percentage of fault is more than 50%.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Helping You Recover the Compensation You Deserve
Many factors play a role in determining the compensation amount you can receive in a car accident lawsuit. Figuring them out and putting a solid claim can be complex, but an aggressive personal injury attorney can help you. They know how personal injury claims work and can use their best skills to fight for your rights.
Our San Antonio auto accident attorney can help you fight this legal battle. We know how devastating it can be to deal with insurance companies that may want to short-change you and pay you less than you deserve. Your case is a priority, and we will handle it with the professionalism and personal attention it deserves. Call the Law Office of Matthew S. Norris at (210) 549-7633 for a FREE case assessment.