Most Massachusetts residents will only experience fender benders in our lifetimes. But for those who are involved in serious car accidents, the effects can be devastating. Between debilitating physical injuries, astronomical medical and repair bills, and the psychological trauma of being in a crash, the negative effects of a serious accident can be significant and long-lasting.
What is the Formula for Calculating a Car Accident Settlement?
If you have been injured in a serious Massachusetts car accident, you may be thinking about filing a lawsuit. If so, you’re probably wondering how much money you can expect to get in a car accident settlement.
However, every accident is different. For this reason, there is no formula and no “one size fits all” approach to estimating a car accident settlement. In order to estimate the potential value of your lawsuit, you will have to consider several factors.
How are Car Accident Settlements Calculated?
There are three types of damages an injured person can recover following a Massachusetts car accident. These are economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages under very limited circumstances. These damages will determine how much money your settlement is worth.
Economic damages cover costs like medical care, future medical care, lost wages, and the inability to earn future income. They also include vehicle repair or replacement costs. To determine your economic damages, add up the costs of your medical bills, car repair bills, car rental, and lost income.
Serious physical injuries can cause extreme mental and physical anguish. Non-economic damages are meant to compensate a car accident victim for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of companionship, and lost enjoyment of life.
Non-economic damages are naturally personal, and therefore are complicated to calculate. Generally, they are estimated in one of two ways:
1. The Multiplication Method
In the multiplication method, you multiply the sum of your economic damages by an arbitrary number—usually 2 to 4, depending on how severe the accident was. For example, if your medical bills are $7,000 and your lost wages are $3,000, you multiply that sum ($10,000) by 2, 3, or 4. If you multiply $10,000 by 2, you get $20,000. This is your estimated non-economic damages.
2. The Weekly Method
Using the weekly method, you estimate how much your pain and suffering costs each week. Here is an example. You think that your pain and suffering costs you $100 a week. You are treated for your injuries for six months (24 weeks). Therefore. you can estimate your damages at 24 weeks x $100/week = $2,400.
Whereas economic and non-economic damages are intended to compensate you for your losses, punitive damages are intended to punish someone for their actions. In Massachusetts, courts can only issue punitive damages when wrongful death occurs as a result of the defendant’s gross negligence or malicious intent.
Am I Entitled to a Claim?
Were you injured as a result of someone’s negligence ? If so, you are likely entitled to a personal injury claim. Negligent behavior includes:
- Driving under the influence
- Driving recklessly or faster than the speed limit
- Driving while distracted
Sometimes, the negligent party is a civil authority or car manufacturer. As an example, a poorly-maintained road might create hazardous driving conditions, or a defective car part may malfunction. In these cases, it pays to work with an experienced car accident attorney who can determine fault.
Who Pays the Settlement?
Unlike many states in the U.S., Massachusetts follows a “no-fault” system for car accidents and insurance claims. This means that you must first turn to your own car insurance for certain limited compensation for medical bills and lost wages under PIP (Personal Injury Protection), even if the other driver caused the accident.
You may only obtain a settlement from the responsible party’s insurance company and file a personal injury lawsuit if you meet certain requirements, such as if you incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses or sustained serious, disfiguring, or permanent injuries, including broken bones and hearing loss.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Car insurance companies want you to believe that they exist to protect you. The truth, though, is that they are for-profit businesses. When you hire a Worcester car accident attorney to represent you, you can rest assured that you have a legal advocate on your side. We have your best interests at heart.
Unlike most Worcester law firms, Peter Ventura only handles personal injury cases, and he specializes in litigating serious and complex injuries. With over 25 years of experience representing car accident victims, Attorney Ventura has the legal background and expertise to help you receive the highest possible settlement. Contact our offices today to schedule a free initial consultation.