This is the most common question we get from potential clients who have been injured in a car accident that was not their fault—and understandably so. Knowing what your claim could be worth will help you decide if it’s worth pursuing, whether an offer made by the at-fault driver’s insurance company is fair, and what kind of medical care and lost-wage reimbursement you can expect. In this article, we discuss the factors that affect the value of a car accident claim in Missouri and explain what you can do to maximize the compensation you could be awarded after a successful claim.
Factors That Can Significantly Increase the Value of Your Car Accident Claim
Compensation awarded to an injured party is based on the losses they suffered in the accident. Generally speaking, the more catastrophic the crash is and the more losses you suffer, the more your claim will be worth. Factors that will play a role in determining the value of your claim include the following:
- Severity of injuries. More severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment, surgeries, rehabilitation, and long-term care lead to higher medical expenses and increased compensation. Serious injuries often result in greater pain and suffering, affecting the overall value of the claim as well. If a car accident victim has suffered permanent disability or disfigurement, they face life-long medical care and a loss of earning potential that would also significantly increase the value of their claim.
- The extent of lost wages. Compensation for lost wages due to missed work and reduced earning capacity due to long-term injuries or disabilities can significantly increase the claim's value, as it accounts for both current and future financial losses. Depending on your line of work and earning potential, the lost-wage portion of your compensation could radically increase the value of your claim.
- Insurance carried by the at-fault driver. You can’t get blood from a stone, so the value of a claim often comes down to how much liability insurance the at-fault driver has. If they carry state-required minimum coverage, your damages might be capped at $25,000. However, if they have a higher liability policy—or they have significant personal assets—the value of your claim could increase with the help of a lawyer.
- Additional liable parties. If there is more than one liable party—for example, more than one driver in a multi-car crash or the employer of the at-fault driver who was on duty at the time of the crash—that could increase your compensation considerably.
- Proving liability. If the at-fault driver’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness is clear and there is strong evidence to support their liability, you will have a stronger case to put before the insurance company. Solid proof of fault, along with significant financial losses, will strengthen your claim for compensation.
- Having an experienced lawyer on your side. Insurance companies take claims presented by personal injury lawyers far more seriously than claims that come from individuals without legal representation. Not only does a lawyer understand all of the factors that contribute to the value of a claim, but they have the skill and confidence to not back down—even in the face of a team of lawyers or a stubborn insurance adjuster.
When you meet with our car accident lawyers in a free, no-obligation consultation, we will help you understand the potential value of your claim. If we believe that we can add value to your claim, we will explain how and walk you through our process.
Potential Damages in a Missouri Car Crash Claim
The goal of a personal injury claim is to make the injured person whole again. In other words, we want to restore what the negligent driver took from you in the crash. It will be your lawyer’s job to calculate all of your financial losses and demand compensation that covers all of the damages. These damages might include some or all of the following:
- Medical expenses. These can include hospital bills, doctor's visits, surgery and medical procedures, emergency room treatment, diagnostic tests (X-rays, MRI, CT scans), rehabilitation and physical therapy, and prescription medications.
- Lost wages. If you have had to miss work to recover from your injuries, you should be compensated for the time. In addition, you could be owed damages for loss of earning capacity for future income if injuries lead to diminished earning potential.
- Property damage. This includes repairs or replacement of your damaged vehicle as well as any personal property inside the vehicle (laptops, phones, etc.).
- Pain and suffering. Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident and injuries, including loss of enjoyment of life due to injuries, can be calculated by an experienced attorney. Emotional distress might manifest as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the accident.
- Loss of consortium. This includes compensation for the impact of injuries on personal relationships, including spousal relationships, companionship, and affection.
- Medical devices and assistive equipment. If you need crutches, braces, wheelchairs, or other necessary medical devices now or in the future, those costs should be covered by your compensation.
- Home care and assistance. Expenses for hiring help or assistance for daily activities during recovery should also be included in your demand for damages.
- Transportation costs. Your award should cover expenses related to transportation to medical appointments, therapy sessions, and work if you are unable to drive or your vehicle is not available because of the crash.
- Future medical expenses. Your lawyer should include anticipated costs of ongoing medical treatment, surgeries, therapies, or medications required in the future due to accident-related injuries, including costs associated with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation services.
- Punitive damages. In cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct by the at-fault party, punitive damages may be awarded by a judge to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are often awarded in drunk driving cases.
- Legal fees and court costs. Your lawyer will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning he will be paid out of your award if your claim is successful; however, additional fees, such as court filing fees and other legal expenses incurred during the claim process, could be included as part of your damages.
- Other economic losses. Your lawyer will also list additional out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the accident, such as home modifications, childcare costs, or transportation costs.
Calculating the full value of your claim takes experience, as do gathering evidence and writing a demand letter. If your demand for compensation is rejected and your insurance claim becomes a personal injury lawsuit, you want the confidence of having an experienced trial lawyer on your team.