Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
Car accidents can often leave victims with serious injuries that they need compensation for. Medical bills and lost wages can be very high, but damages from a car insurance claim might not be high enough to cover your costs. Working with a personal injury lawyer on your case can often help you get additional damages for pain and suffering, and a lawsuit might entitle you to more damages than a settlement offer from an insurance company would. Fayetteville car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak discusses how you might be able to increase your settlement amount by working with an experienced attorney.
Do Car Accident Settlements in Arkansas Pay More than Trials?
In many cases, a settlement is going to be lower than the award you could win at trial. When you settle a car accident claim, it means that you will not go through the time and expense of trial. Settlement offers are often lowered to account for that reduced expense to you. The insurance company also generally limits payments under the terms of their policy, potentially capping damages at a certain percentage of their actual cost. Insurance policies also usually exclude pain and suffering damages in most cases, and companies will try to negotiate low settlement offers to save them money.
When you accept a settlement, whether that’s from the at-fault driver directly or from an insurance company, it often means you cannot sue later for higher damages. If you have first-party or PIP (personal injury protection) benefits attached to your car insurance policy, you might be able to get some compensation from them up front and then sue the at-fault driver later. However, when you do this, your insurance company might be entitled to some of your winnings. To avoid losing money by dealing with insurance companies, you should talk to an attorney before accepting any money.
Raising Damages for Car Accident Claims with Lawsuits in Arkansas
When you file a lawsuit for a car accident in Arkansas, you are entitled to claim any damages that the at-fault party caused you. This means that any costs stemming from the car accident can be part of your claim. Unlike insurance policies, which often limit you from claiming pain and suffering damages, lawsuits allow you to claim compensation even for intangible harms.
The physical pain and suffering you faced from an injury might be the biggest part of your injury case. Especially if the medical costs were low or the injuries do not prevent you from working, the physical pain and mental suffering of your injury could be the worst part. With an insurance claim or a settlement, these damages might be low or limited. In a lawsuit, you can claim these damages in full.
Other damages might also be awarded in a lawsuit, including punitive damages. Punitive damages are ordered by the court to punish the at-fault party for their negligence. These damages are not common, but they might be ordered against trucking companies that violated rules and regulations in a truck accident injury case or other companies and businesses whose commercial drivers caused dangerous accidents. They are also ordered sometimes against at-fault parties who have repeatedly caused injuries through negligence.
Calculating Damages with the Help of an Arkansas Car Accident Lawyer
When the at-fault driver offers to settle the case out of court or their insurance company gives you a price they are willing to pay for your injuries and damages, there is no reason to trust the values these parties give you. The at-fault driver and their insurance company do not work for you and have no obligation to keep your best interests in mind. That means that any valuation they tell you could be skewed to save them money and avoid high payouts. It may even miss entire areas of damages, such as future projected costs of medical care and lost earning capacity.
If you are offered a settlement, it is important to have an attorney review the settlement offer and calculate damages themselves to help you avoid a low settlement. In many cases, your lawyer’s calculation of damages will give a more favorable calculation that asks for higher damages. The difference in what damages you consider part of the case will often lead to different calculations. Different projection methods can also help you arrive at a higher value.
Sometimes, settlements are the best way to go in your case, and you can likely meet somewhere between these values and get a reasonable settlement. However, if the settlement offer is far lower than your lawyer’s calculation, you might have no choice but to take the case to trial to get anything close to the damages you deserve.
In either case, your lawyer represents you and can help advocate for you and for higher damages. Your lawyer has ethical obligations to keep your best interests in mind, which includes helping you understand whether a settlement offer is fair and what your chances at trial might be. Talk to a lawyer for personalized advice and help calculating damages on your case.
Call Our Fayetteville Car Accident Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If you were injured in a car accident, do not trust the insurance companies or the driver who hit you to offer fair settlements. Instead, talk to a lawyer about how to negotiate for higher damages, what damages the settlement offer might have missed, and what damages you could be entitled to at trial. For a free legal consultation, call our Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer, Ken Kieklak, today at (479) 316-0438.
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