How Much Will Insurance Pay for My Accident?
When someone else’s negligence causes you harm, you are entitled to compensation. Whether the other driver ran a red light, was driving while intoxicated, or simply looked down at his cell phone too long, the weeks and months of pain, doctor’s visits, car repairs, and associated stress can all be factored into your compensation.
But how much compensation can you expect?
Every accident is different, and your injuries may be more or less severe than the average, so it’s impossible for anyone to give you an accurate prediction without collecting a lot of information. Still, there are some basic principles that will govern your potential award:
Make the Victim Whole
An at-fault driver (or his insurance) will be expected to compensate you to the point that you are able to return, as closely as possible, to the level of health and life enjoyment you enjoyed before the accident. You should understand, however, that “whole” doesn’t mean “better.” If your arm was broken, the insurance payout should compensate you for the medical treatment to repair your arm, but usually won’t pay for a state-of-the-art robot suit to permanently relieve you of the necessity of using that arm, ever again. Similarly, if your $5,000 car was totaled, insurance won’t replace it with a shiny red sports car worth $50,000. Such overpayments are normally called “windfalls” by the courts, and are avoided whenever possible.
Washington State, along with just a handful of other states, also prohibits punitive – or punishment – awards. Because of that policy, even if the other driver’s conduct was outrageous, you cannot recover a windfall. Your compensation will be designed only to compensate you for your actual damages.
You should, however, expect to receive full compensation for all your various damages. If your broken arm needs physical therapy, you should be compensated for that. If you are also experiencing headaches and symptoms of whiplash, you should be compensated for that. If you missed time from work or you lost your job because of the accident, you should seek compensation for that, too. Your attorney should be able to help you accurately and completely identify your damages to maximize your settlement. Medical bills or your lost wages usually represent only the smallest part of the harms affecting an injured person’s life that require compensation.
Pain and Suffering
Any pain, anxiety, stress, and permanent loss of enjoyment you suffer may also be entitled to compensation. If you used to enjoy swimming, but your permanent injuries make it impossible to complete a stroke, make sure you bring that up to your attorney. Keep a daily pain log from the beginning of your accident and record any activities you missed out on during your recovery period.
Pain and suffering is an extremely difficult area to predict results for, but your attorney should be able to give you guidance after consulting with you.
At Duce Bastian Peterson, we are dedicated to helping our personal injury clients receive the care and compensation they need to be made whole. If you have been injured in an accident, contact us today for a free consultation.