Know What To Expect From An Auto Accident Claim

Posted on: 13 May 2016

If you've been injured in a car accident and are filing a claim against another driver or their insurance company, you might be anticipating a large settlement. Unless you have grievous injuries, however, your settlement might not be as big as you're expecting. If you were in a typical accident and suffered some injuries, but nothing that's life-threatening, here's a realistic look at what you might get if your claim is successful.

Personal Injury Settlements for Auto Accidents Aren't Gigantic

Occasionally, auto accident settlements for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are featured in the news. These aren't the norm, though. If they were, they wouldn't be newsworthy.

Most auto accident settlements settle for a much more modest $24,000. This is a decent sum, but it's far from a seven- or eight-figure amount.

Your settlement may be more or less than the average. Unless there is something remarkable about your case, though, you can expect a settlement closer to this average of $24,000 than to $1 million. From this amount, you must pay your legal fees, car accident lawyer's fees and all medical fees associated with your injuries.

Your Legal Fees Could be $2,000 or More

Legal fees encompass any expenses associated with your case that aren't paid to your car accident lawyer. (Although your lawyer may pay these fees for you from your settlement, they do not receive these fees themselves.) A list of a few common legal fees shows how, even in average cases, these fees can be expensive:

  • depositions can cost anywhere from $364 to $412.75
  • medical expert witnesses cost an average of $555 per hour
  • expedited services may increase the costs of any legal fees

As an example, assume your case required three hours of testimony from a medical expert witness, which would have to be recorded in a deposition. Getting and recording this testimony alone would total over $2,000 -- between $2,029 and $2,077.75. After these fees were paid, your remaining settlement would range between $21,971 and $21,922.25.

Your Car Accident Lawyer Will Charge a Contingency Fee

Car accident lawyers, as AllLaw explains, usually work on contingency fees. This arrangement means that you don't have to pay them unless you win your case. If you receive a settlement, though, you have to give your attorney a percentage: usually 33 percent if the case doesn't go to trial and sometimes 40 percent if it does go to trial.

These fees are taken out of your total settlement amount. In this example, your car accident lawyer would receive either $8,000 (33 percent) or $9,600 (40 percent). Between $13,971 and $12,322.25 would remain from your settlement.

Your Medical Bills Must Be Paid

From this amount, your medical bills have to be paid. Until your claim is settled, your car accident lawyer will be able to delay paying these bills by sending your healthcare provider's letters of protection (LOPs). LOPs are legal documents that guarantee payment upon settlement, and they must be honored. If they aren't, your attorney could face legal consequences and potentially be disciplined by the state's bar association.

Medical procedures can cost a lot, as anyone who has been injured in an auto accident knows. Even if you only has $2,000 of medical bills, these would still reduce your share of the settlement to between $11,971 and $10,322.25.

A possible settlement between $11,971 and $10,322.25 is worth pursuing. It will hardly make you set for life, though. While you should consider contacting a car accident lawyer if you have a valid claim, don't expect to retire on your settlement. After all, a settlement is meant to cover your accident-associated bills and expenses, and pain and suffering, not to be a jackpot. Click here to investigate more.