If you’ve been hurt in a Mt. Pleasant car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is legally bound to evaluate your claim for damages in good faith. That means the company is supposed to be fair, reasonable, and honest about compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
While fairness, reason, and honesty are positive traits we normally associate with human beings, the insurance company actually works hard to remove the human element from the process of claim evaluation. It uses data mining and artificial intelligence to evaluate your claim by computer, according to a formula that multiplies your “special damages” by a certain factor. The factor is determined by analyzing statistics from settlements and trials of cases similar to yours.
Special Damages Following A Mt. Pleasant Car Accident
Your special damages are basically your financial losses due to the accident. They generally include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
Once the computer generates these numbers, the insurance adjuster multiplies them by a factor from approximately one to five to estimate the value of your total claim, including pain and suffering. This gives the company an idea of the award you might be granted by a judge or jury if your case should go to trial. If you accept a settlement that’s less than what you might be awarded in court, the insurance company saves the cost of a trial. Its goal is to dispute, deny, or devalue your claim in order to pay you the least amount of money possible.
How the Factor Is Determined In Your South Carolina Car Accident Settlement
If your medical bills are comparatively low, the adjuster assumes your injuries were not so serious. They'll multiply your special damages by a fairly low factor, perhaps between one and two.
If your medical bills are very high, this indicates you were probably hospitalized for a time and perhaps needed long-term treatment and/or physical therapy. A longer recovery period means more physical and mental pain and suffering, so the adjuster might multiply your special damages by a larger factor between three and five to determine the award you could get in court if your case went to trial.
There are also other variables to consider in the evaluation of your personal injury claim:
- How soon after the accident you sought medical treatment. If you waited for months, the adjuster assumes your pain and suffering were not extreme. If they were, you would have sought treatment sooner.
- Whether you received excessive, unnecessary treatment like long-term chiropractic care or extensive physical therapy.
- Whether you had pre-existing conditions that were aggravated rather than caused by the accident.
- Your age.
- Any partial fault you might bear.
Your First Settlement Offer Will Be Low
Because your award depends on the numbers generated by the computer, the information that goes into the system is important to your case. That’s why you need the services of a personal injury lawyer, who understands the formula for calculating your award. The insurance company knows that you’re probably not an expert in this area and will offer you a low settlement, especially if you don’t have legal representation.
Your attorney can do many things to strengthen your case and be sure that all the proper data is in the insurance company’s systems when it calculates your award:
- Get statements from witnesses.
- Obtain police reports.
- Gather detailed medical records.
- Provide extensive photographic evidence of your injuries and property damage.
- Hire an independent investigator.
- Collect dashcam or security-video footage of the accident.
- Put a dollar value on your damages.
- Negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement.
- File a lawsuit and go to court if necessary.
For all of these reasons, you should never accept the insurance company’s first offer. It might be as little as 40% of what your case is actually worth. Such an offer is always negotiable and should be referred to your lawyer.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident in Mt. Pleasant?
Take the first step toward getting fair compensation by consulting an experienced car accident attorney. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call our Mt. Pleasant office directly at 843.488.3226 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Horry County and surrounding areas, so we’re sure to have an office near you.