A motor vehicle collision often causes physical and emotional injuries as well as financial hardship for the victims. We customarily use the term car accident to refer to a collision; however, in most cases, the crash was not a true accident. On the contrary, most motor vehicle collisions are the result of negligence on the part of a motorist involved in the collision. Consequently, an injured victim is typically entitled to be compensated by the negligent (at-fault) party for the injuries suffered. If you were injured in a collision, you undoubtedly want to know what your car accident claim is worth. Contrary to what many people believe, there is no “formula” used to determine the value of a car accident claim. There are, however, several factors that will influence the value of your case. A Murfreesboro car accident lawyer explains the factors that are most likely to influence the value of your car accident case.
Is Negligence Clear?
The first, and most important, factor when determining the value of a car accident claim is the issue of negligence. Negligence is the legal term used to refer to fault or responsibility in a personal injury case. A Plaintiff (the injured victim in this case) must prove four elements to establish negligence:
- A duty of care – the defendant must have owed you a legal duty of care, requiring him/her to do everything reasonable to prevent injury. Courts established long ago that a motorist operating a vehicle on a public roadway owes a legal duty of care to others on the roadway.
- Breach of the duty of care – you must show that the defendant breached that duty of care. Things such as drinking and driving, texting while driving, or speeding are all examples of a clear breach of the duty of care.
- Causation – you must show that the breach of duty was the cause of your injuries
- Damages – you must show that you were actually injured in the collision.
When negligence is clear, it makes settling or winning a case much easier. For example, if the defendant was drunk when he/she crossed over the center line and hit you, negligence if clear. Often, however, negligence is not so clear. Tennessee operates under the doctrine of comparative negligence, meaning more than one party can share the blame for an accident. If you share some of the blame, you will ultimately recover less for your injuries. For instance, if it is established that you are 25 percent at fault and the defendant is 75 percent at fault, and your damages are $100,000, you would only recover $75,000 after adjusting for your percentage of negligence.
What Are Your Damages?
While there is no secret formula used to decide the value of an accident case, the value of your damages is relevant. You are entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are out of pocket expenses, such as medical bills, repairs to your vehicle, and lost wages. Non-economic damages are what people commonly refer to as “pain and suffering” and represent the emotional trauma a victim suffered. As a general rule, the more severe your physical damages are the more you are entitled to for non-economic damages as well.
Are You Being Realistic with Your Expectations?
Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to settling a car accident case is the client. Most car accident cases are settled as a result of the parties reaching a mutually acceptable agreement without the need to go to trial. For your case to settle, however, you must be realistic about its value. Holding out for more money can be risky – and can backfire. Ultimately, only you can decide if you will accept an offer to settle but always discuss your options with your attorney before making that decision. If you take your case to trial, a judge or jury will decide if you are entitled to compensation and, if you are, how much.
Contact a Murfreesboro Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a car accident in Tennessee, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro car accident lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.