As a California car accident victim, you need to know how much you are entitled to recover. But, while car insurance settlement statistics might be interesting, they are also misleading, and you need to focus on the details of your specific claim.
If you are like most California car accident victims, you have two main questions: (i) How much can you recover? (ii) How soon can you recover the compensation you deserve? In order to figure out the answer to the first question, many people look online for car insurance settlement statistics. But, while these statistics might be interesting, it is important to understand that they have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of your claim.
In fact, most of the car insurance settlement statistics you will find online are misleading. There are two reasons why:
- While most California car accident insurance claims settle, most settle for just a fraction of what the claimant is owed; and,
- There is a big difference between the average settlement amount in cases involving represented versus unrepresented claimants.
As a result, not only are the statistics misleading with regard to the percentage of California car accident victims who receive fair settlements, but the average settlement amount also likely falls in between two very distinct categories of victims: those who hire a lawyer and those who do not.
How much can you recover for your California car accident? Find out from a local attorney:
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Most California Car Accident Victims Settle for a Fraction of What They are Owed
If you look around online, you will find several sources which say that somewhere around 95% of all California car accident claims settle. Technically, this may be true. However, it also ignores a critical fact: There is a big difference between settling a claim and settling a claim for just compensation.
Just because someone receives a settlement, this does not mean that his or her settlement reflects just compensation. This is crucial for understanding the relevance (or lack thereof) of car insurance settlement statistics. In fact, since most California car accident victims do not hire lawyers—a mistake that they really cannot afford to make—most California car accident victims end up settling for far less than they deserve.
Consider this: In order to negotiate a fair settlement, you need to have all of the following information:
- Who was at fault in the accident?
- How much auto insurance coverage is available under each relevant policy?
- Is compensation available outside of auto insurance?
- How much will you need to cover your future medical expenses?
- How much are you entitled to receive for your loss of income?
- How much are you entitled to receive for your pain and suffering?
- How much are you entitled to recover for your other losses?
- What is your state’s law regarding contributory or comparative fault?
- Do you have a claim for punitive damages?
If your answer to any of these questions is, “I don’t know,” then you are not prepared to negotiate effectively. This means that you have virtually no chance of securing a fair settlement. Unfortunately, far too many people accept insurance settlements without knowing the answers to these questions, and this is a big part of why the car insurance settlement statistics regarding percentage of claims settled are so misleading.
1. A Car Insurance Settlement Should Cover Financial and Non-Financial Losses
Unless you are limited to filing for personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) coverage, you are entitled to compensation for your financial and non-financial losses. However, the insurance companies typically offer settlements for claimants’ financial losses only.
This is not necessarily a sign of bad faith. When you have an insurance claim, you have to prove your right to compensation. While the insurance companies have to treat you fairly, they do not have to do your job for you. If you only submit evidence of your medical bills and lost wages—as most California car accident victims do—then these are the only losses that you can possibly hope to recover.
2. A Car Insurance Settlement Should Cover Current and Future Losses
The same considerations apply to your future losses. When you have an insurance claim for injuries you sustained in a California car accident, you are entitled to just compensation for your current and future losses. However, if you do not know how to calculate your future losses (which requires medical, financial, and legal expertise), then these losses are not going to be included in your settlement.
Unless and until you prove how much you are entitled to recover, the insurance companies are under no obligation to pay. This is important to remember—especially when considering the relevance of car insurance settlement statistics. If you don’t do everything necessary to prove your legal rights (as most people don’t), your settlement is not going to reflect anything close to just compensation.
There is a Big Difference Between the Average Settlements for Claimants Who Do and Don’t Hire Lawyers
The second major factor that makes most car insurance settlement statistics misleading is that there is a big difference between the average settlements for claimants who do and don’t hire lawyers. For example, one study found that victims who hire lawyers average $75,000 in compensation, while those who do not hire lawyers average just $18,000 in compensation.
While some may suggest that this disparity is due to the fact that lawyers typically take cases that are higher in value, the more likely explanation is that lawyers are good at what they do—and they are often able to significantly increase the amount of their clients’ settlements.
This makes sense when you consider the issues regarding non-financial losses and future losses we discussed above. Not only do unrepresented claimants typically receive no compensation for these losses, but these losses often account for the greatest portion of injured California car accident victims’ claims.
In other words, when a California car accident victim settles without hiring a lawyer, in most cases this means that:
- The victim does not know how much he or she is entitled to recover;
- The victim is not recovering any compensation for his or her non-financial losses;
- The victim is not recovering any compensation for his or her future losses; and,
- Given these shortcomings, the victim is foregoing the majority of the compensation he or she is entitled to recover.
Can you afford to make these mistakes? Remember, your losses could be significantly more than you think.
Do Not Make Assumptions Based on Car Insurance Settlement Statistics
All of this should send one clear message: If you have been injured in an accident, you should not base any decisions on California car accident settlement statistics. Instead, you should hire an experienced attorney, and you should make informed decisions based on your accident, your injuries, and your losses.
If you base your decisions on car insurance settlement statistics, there are two things that can happen. Either (i) you will settle for too little because you are basing your decision on averages and not your actual losses, or (ii) you will reject a fair settlement offer and lose out on compensation because you have an unfounded expectation that you are entitled to more.
Both of these are mistakes you need to avoid. If you settle for too little, your claim will be over—you will not get a second chance to make a full recovery. If you reject a fair settlement offer, the insurance company may not make another one.
In order to avoid these mistakes, the best thing you can do is hire a lawyer to represent you. You will want to hire a lawyer who is experienced in handling California car accident claims. You will also want to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the roads in your local area. When you request a free claim assessment through CarAccidentSource.com, you will be put in touch with an experienced California car accident lawyer near you.
How Much Are You Entitled to Recover for Your California Car Accident?
If you shouldn’t base your decisions on car insurance settlement statistics, then what factors should you consider when deciding whether to accept a settlement? There are more factors than most people think.
From who was at fault to how you were injured, and from what you do for work to how your injuries impact your home life, there are numerous factors that will go into determining just compensation for your California car accident. Again, the best thing you can do to maximize your financial recovery is to entrust your case to an experienced attorney near you.
Remember, if you have a claim outside of PIP and MedPay, you can seek compensation for your current and future financial and non-financial losses. To make sure you seek the maximum compensation that is available to you, discuss your claim with a local attorney today.