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How Much Is My Car Accident Worth?

Posted on June 30, 2022 in

If you have been involved in a car accident, it is natural to want to know how much value there may be in a potential settlement with an insurance company or a judgment award.

At the Stone Rose law firm, we know what goes into calculating full and fair compensation for our auto accident clients. Here, we cover the elements an experienced personal injury lawyer will consider when helping you maximize your car accident settlement value.

If you need legal assistance in the aftermath of a car crash or to learn exactly how much your car accident settlement could be worth, call us at (480) 498-8998. We can help you arrange to speak with an experienced Arizona car accident personal injury attorney in a free initial consultation.

What Does a Jury Consider When Establishing the Value of a Judgment?

In personal injury cases, Arizona courts instruct juries on what to consider when setting the value of a successful plaintiff’s judgment award. These instructions are based on a uniform standard, but by working together with the attorneys in the case, the court can customize them to fit the unique circumstances of each case.

Below are three factors that a jury’s set of instructions will direct them to factor into their decision on how much to award in monetary damages. If no jury is present and the judge takes on the jury’s role, the instructions will apply to the judge’s considerations.

Damages for Direct Injury to the Plaintiff

Jury instructions for what to consider here include:

  • The nature of the injury, including its extent and duration.
  • Pain, discomfort, disability, suffering, anxiety, and disfigurement that the plaintiff has already suffered and which the plaintiff may continue to experience in the future because of the harm done.
  • Reasonable costs for medical care, treatment, and services already incurred or which are reasonably probable to be needed in the future because of the harm done.
  • Lost earnings to date, plus future loss of earning power.
  • Loss of affection, love, companionship, and other aspects of a relationship with another person.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, measured by inability to participate in activities like before the harm done.

Damages for Wrongful Death of Spouse, Parent, or Child

In addition to direct injury to the plaintiff, Arizona law allows for recovery of damages if, because of the accident, someone the plaintiff has a family relationship with dies. 

For this kind of wrongful death harm, a jury can consider the following factors:

  • The loss to the plaintiff of the deceased person’s love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance
  • The plaintiff’s pain, sorrow, grief, stress, anguish, shock, and mental suffering are already experienced and reasonably likely to continue into the future
  • The loss of income and services that the deceased person provided to date and reasonably would have continued to provide in the future
  • Reasonable funeral expenses and burial costs for the deceased
  • Reasonable costs for needed medical care and services the deceased person needed before death

Punitive Damages

Another possible consideration for a money damages award is whether the defendant acted in a way that merits additional damages to make an example to others. Hence the terms punitive or exemplary damages.

A jury’s instructions might include whether the defendant’s behavior leading to the accident or during it warrants an award of punitive damages. Factors the jury can consider include:

  • Whether the defendant’s motivation in causing the harm was malevolent or spiteful
  • Whether the defendant’s behavior 
  • Whether the defendant’s behavior showed a reckless disregard toward the lives and safety of others, like knowingly and consciously engaging in an activity that carries a substantial risk of harm to others.

When deciding how much to award in punitive damages, the jury can also weigh:

  • What was the character of the defendant’s motivations?
  • What was the nature and the extent of the harm done?
  • What is the nature and extent of the defendant’s financial wealth?

More Information on What a Jury Considers in a Car Accident Damages Award

It is difficult to state what an “average” car accident settlement or judgment is worth because the answer depends on many variables that can affect the calculation of things like diminished value claims. Your personal injury claim is unique and depends on how these variables may apply to the facts of your individual case.

The three main factors that affect the final number value of your car accident claim are:

  • Who was involved in the accident?
  • Who was at fault for causing the accident, and to what extent?
  • What kinds of harm occurred because of the accident, and to whom?
Infographic describing car accident case that Stone Rose Law's attorneys won.

Your experienced attorney from Stone Rose Law will help you set up all the appointments to gather the evidence needed to make the most of your claim. With that in mind, let’s consider how many different valuation factors your personal injury attorney must evaluate when representing you.

Who Was Involved in the Accident?

When evaluating the value of a personal injury claim after a car accident, a vital place to start is to identify everyone who was directly and indirectly involved in it. This means more than just the other driver.

Knowing who was involved in the crash is important because different people are subject to different kinds of potential liability. For example, if the other driver in an auto collision is an employee of someone else when the accident happens and was acting in the scope of employment, the employer becomes a probable party to the following claims.

Other people you might encounter as potential participants in settlement negotiations or at trial include insurance company representatives for people or companies that have insurance. In some cases, even local, state, or federal government agencies, auto manufacturers, and auto part suppliers can find themselves drawn into a personal injury claim if factors like poor road maintenance of a dangerously defective product play a role in the crash.

Who Was at Fault and to What Extent?

Once we know who everyone involved in the accident is and what relationship they have to it, the next task is to assess the different potential claims that each party has. This includes who may be liable for them, what defenses that party may raise, and how to counter those defenses.

Claims, Counter Claims, Cross-Claims, and Third-Party Claims

A lawsuit following an automobile accident is seldom as simple as a single plaintiff driver and a single defendant driver. We often see lawsuits that bring in claims against additional defendants, like employers and others whose actions may have contributed to the crash.

Each party to a personal injury legal claim can be subject to claims and can have claims against others. These claims often become intertwined among claims, defenses to claims, cross-claims, counter-claims, and third-party claims.

Sometimes even separate but related lawsuits can be combined into a single lawsuit that includes your claim with others.

Comparative Fault and Your Claim Value After an Accident

Arizona is a comparative fault state.

This means sorting out who is ultimately at fault for an accident and to what extent is essential to finally resolving the dispute. If more than one person contributed to the cause of the underlying accident, everyone involved is assessed a percentage of fault appropriate to that person’s degree of responsibility.

Thus, a court judgment that finds you even one percent at fault will reduce your judgment amount by one percent. Technically, you can be 99 percent at fault for a car crash yet still recover the difference in the remaining one percent of the reduced value of your original damages award.

What Kinds of Harm Occurred, and to Whom?

Determining the overall value of your car accident personal injury claim also depends greatly on exploring all the possible avenues of recovery. Some of these avenues are easy to follow. Others require a more subjective analysis to decide how much they are worth.

Immediate Property and Personal Injury Damages

Property damage to your vehicle, your belongings, and other property items is compensable if you prevail in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, a simple car accident with another driver like the allegorical “fender-bender” may involve no injuries and only minimal property damage. This kind of diminished value claim you can put behind you fairly quickly and is often as simple as making an auto insurance claim for the repairs.

The medical bills associated with your car accident should be included in your complete compensation. Measuring what your future medical costs will be requires follow-up opinions from qualified experts. You can only collect damages you can prove, and most insurance companies responsible for compensating you will not pay anything you cannot prove with evidence. 

Medical costs can include emergency room bills and immediate follow-up medications and care. These kinds of damages are relatively easy to determine and are a staple of settlement agreements with an insurance adjuster.

Your Phoenix car accident lawyer from Stone Rose will help you schedule appointments with our network of local medical experts to ensure you accurately and completely calculate the details of the full medical costs linked to your injuries. 

Does the Harm Done Include Future Consequences?

Once we go beyond immediate property harm recovery and immediate medical expenses, the value calculations for a settlement or a claim for damages become more complicated.

This can be the case if the accident is serious and leads to significant physical and mental harm. If this happens, the damages you seek will often include future calculations for the ongoing cost of treatment in the months and even years following the crash. These are also known as reasonably foreseeable damages. Here are some examples:

Future Medical Expenses

Ongoing medical expenses in the aftermath of a car accident are a form of direct damages. This means that as long as you can prove them with evidence, like medical bills for your treatment, no limit exists on the dollar figure value of the medical expenses you incur.

The thing to keep in mind when calculating medical expenses connected with a car accident is that your injuries may not always reveal themselves right away through symptoms. Also, your physical injuries can often take a long time to heal and may require specialized treatment like occupational or physical therapy.

These delayed and protracted long-term money damages need to be anticipated and accounted for in any settlement or judgment award.

Long-Term Pain And Suffering Damages

Your physical self is not the only part of you that can suffer harm from an automobile accident. If you or someone you care about is seriously injured or even dies because of the crash, Arizona law recognizes these kinds of mental trauma as grounds for damages recovery.

As you may imagine, determining how much value there is in pain and suffering damages is a subjective exercise. Unlike medical expenses, which you can prove with medical treatment receipts, mental wellness can be difficult to estimate and calculate.

Lost Future Income and Benefits From Employment

If your injuries impact your work, you could be entitled to compensation for: 

  • Lost wages
  • Lost work benefits like sick time and vacation leave
  • Lost earnings potential from the time of your accident through your working life

For example, a bump, blow, or penetrating wound to your head can lead to a traumatic brain injury, which causes permanent chemical changes in the brain. These changes can impact your ability to work, and this inability to work is a reasonably foreseeable kind of harm.

Punitive Damages

Another subjective but potentially highly valuable part of a court judgment in your favor for personal injury are punitive or exemplary damages. These apply in cases when the behavior of the person who harmed you was so out of line, such as intentionally malicious acts or especially reckless activities, that the court approves additional monetary penalties not as restitution but as punishment.

Discuss Your Car Accident with a Car Accident Attorney 

Collecting what you are entitled to for your car accident requires that your damages be accurately and completely measured with evidence. This evidence is then incorporated into a complex car accident claims process to collect the compensation you are entitled to by filing with the insurance company of the party that caused the accident.

If the insurance company refuses to provide a fair settlement, it is necessary to file a lawsuit against them. 

Your Phoenix car accident lawyer from Stone Rose will help you schedule appointments with our network of local medical experts to ensure you accurately and completely calculate the full medical costs linked to your injuries. The best way to accurately calculate your damages and then collect them is by working with a local Phoenix car accident lawyer from Stone Rose Law. The sooner you have a car accident lawyer on your claim, the sooner you can sit back and allow them to handle the entire process for you. To chat about options on how we can help you make the most of your case, schedule a consultation with us or call (480) 498-8998.