A car accident can have serious physical consequences and carry significant property losses. As a victim of a car wreck, what are your rights? What constitutes fair compensation? Many factors affect the answer to those questions, such as the extent of the damages and the accident’s situation. To understand how much your claim is worth, you need advice from a professional car wreck lawyer in Jackson, Wyoming.

Ask a Car Wreck Lawyer in Jackson, Wyoming: How Can You Tell How Much Yout Claim is Worth?

After filing a claim with the insurance company, an adjuster will investigate the details of the accident to determine a compensatory amount. At this stage, they will try to prove:

  • Who was at fault for the accident (or if both parties share fault at different percentages)
  • The severity of your injuries and the cost of your treatments
  • The value of the property that was damaged

It’s important to note that adjusters will always try to protect the financial interests of the company they represent and that you don’t need to give them any other information than your lawyer’s contact details. It’s paramount to avoid discussing settlement offers until you are released from the hospital and understand if you’ll need continued treatments and how much these will cost.

Understanding The Concept of “Damages”

Damages refer to a sum of money owed to a person because of someone else’s wrongful actions. There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages

These are set to pay back what someone has lost because of reckless or wrongful action. Compensatory damages can be economical (hospital bills, recovery of lost property, lost wages) and non-economic (pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life). Typically, insurance companies are liable for compensatory damages (up to the amounts stated in an insurance policy).

Punitive Damages

On the other hand, punitive damages are awarded on top of compensatory damages if the accident resulted from neglectful behavior or deliberate actions. They are meant to be a punishment to the liable party. Insurance companies do not cover punitive damages. To be awarded punitive damages, you need to file a lawsuit. Examples of cases in which punitive damages may be awarded include:

  • The accident was a result of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • The accident happened because the driver was texting and driving
  • The accident occurred as a result of a mechanical failure that the driver was aware of

The Settlement Offer

Once they finish their investigation, insurance adjusters will usually offer a settlement amount to avoid going to court. The amount offered will depend on many factors, such as the severity of your injuries and if they result in a long-term or permanent disability that impacts your earning capacity, the cost of your medical treatment, and if you need continued treatment.

Usually, initial offers are low, sometimes not enough to pay for your medical bills. This is where your lawyer comes in. They need to review the terms of the offer with you and prepare a counteroffer. There’s a negotiation process that will take place and might last for several months. Avoid taking an offer just because you can access the money faster, as you may have to pay for a lot of expenses out of pocket.

The Court Process

There are three scenarios in which filing a lawsuit is worth the time and money:

  1. When the insurance company denies your claim
  2. When the settlement offer is not enough to cover your treatment and property loss
  3. When the other party is liable for punitive damages (which will not be covered by the insurance company)

If you decide to proceed with a trial, it’ll be up to a judge or jury to determine how much your claim is worth. They will consider the same factors as the insurance adjusters, but it’s your responsibility (and your lawyer’s) to present enough evidence to prove it. This is why it’s essential to keep copies of all accident-related records. Evidence may include testimonies from witnesses and healthcare professionals, medical bills, footage from surveillance cameras, and police reports.

How to Choose a Lawyer

Hiring a good car wreck lawyer in Jackson, Wyoming can make a tremendous difference in the amount you receive as a settlement or as the result of a trial. Usually, car accident attorney’s fees correspond to a percentage of what you get. To find a good lawyer, rely on first-hand recommendations, set up some consultations, and choose someone with a success record in cases similar to yours.

Determining an amount for a car accident claim is not easy and may take time. Avoid negotiating with insurance companies by yourself. It’s crucial to get professional legal support to examine your case, help you determine what’s fair, and, if necessary, help you fight for it.