If someone else causes an auto accident and you suffer damage, they are responsible for compensating you for that damage. 

Auto accidents can happen in any manner of different ways. As a result, the extent and type of damage that they cause varies from case to case. Suppose you were in a California auto accident and are considering filing a legal claim to recover your losses. In that case, you will probably want to know how much you can expect to receive in any sort of settlement. After all, you will want to know whether starting a legal claim is worth your time and effort. If the amount of damages you will receive in a settlement is too small to justify initiating legal action, you might decide not to do it.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell how much you should expect in a California auto accident settlement. This is because there is no average auto accident or settlement to compare your case to. Still, you can come up with a rough estimate to help you decide on how you will proceed. The best way to estimate how much a settlement is worth is to add up the total damages you suffered. After you add up all your damages, you can apply the degree of fault to the total amount, and you will have your estimate.

Damages

The first thing you need to do to estimate your final settlement’s value is add up all the damages you suffered as a result of the accident. It is important to take your time and make a thorough inventory of all of the damages you suffered. If you miss something, it will throw off your estimate and make it less accurate. There are two categories of damages to account for in California: economic damages and noneconomic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the damages you suffer that have a tangible monetary value. Adding them all up is as simple as finding the bills you paid or checking your bank statement to account for any payments you made related to your accident and the subsequent damages you suffered. Economic damages come in many different forms. Use this list to help you start brainstorming about what economic damages you suffered:

  • Emergency room visits,
  • Prescription drugs,
  • Emergency medical transportation,
  • Property damage,
  • Wages lost due to injury,
  • Lost business opportunities,
  • Vocational rehabilitation,
  • Lost earning capacity,
  • Household help, and
  • Future medical expenses.

Our list is not a complete one by any means. These are just a few types of economic damages that you might suffer from. The two key criteria in identifying economic damages are whether (1) the accident caused the damage and (2) the damage had an identifiable monetary value. Any sort of good or service that you had to pay for or income you lost as a result of the accident is a form of economic damage.

Noneconomic Damages

Unlike economic damages, noneconomic damages lack an identifiable, objective monetary value. For this reason, noneconomic damages are sometimes hard to identify. On top of that, it is often difficult to place a monetary value on them. After all, how can you put a price on something like the lost companionship of a loved one? Still, noneconomic damages are just as real as economic damages. If you suffer from them, you deserve compensation. Some types of noneconomic damages you might consider include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of activities,
  • Loss of companionship,
  • Physical pain,
  • Mental anguish,
  • Loss of a bodily function, and
  • Loss of reputation.

Like economic damages, there are quite a few different types of noneconomic damages. Every person is unique, so the type of noneconomic damage that people suffer from is also unique. Despite the difficulty of estimating the value of noneconomic damages, experienced auto accident attorneys can make an educated prediction of what a given type of noneconomic damage is worth. With their prediction in mind, you can add the value of those noneconomic damages to your running damage total.

Using Fault to Adjust Your Estimate

Now that you have taken an inventory of all of your damages, you can add them up. With that sum, you are one step closer to having an estimate of your settlement’s value, but there is still one more step: apply your degree of fault to the sum of all damages. In California, the person who causes an accident is the one liable for damages. But accidents aren’t always caused by one person alone; other drivers may share the fault. 

California accounts for drivers’ share of fault in the auto accident claims process by reducing the total compensation that a driver receives by their share of fault. For example, if you suffer $10,000 worth of damages in an accident and are 25% at fault for it, your settlement will see a 25% reduction to $7,500. Once you apply your degree of fault to your damages sum, you have an estimate of your settlement’s value.

Considering Filing a California Auto Accident Claim?

The best thing you can do to ensure that you have an accurate estimate of your settlement’s worth is to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney. Particularly concerning non-economic damages, auto accident lawyers know how much given types of damage are worth, so you can take the guesswork out of your estimate with their help. The auto accident lawyers here at Silva Injury Law, Inc. have considerable experience helping clients estimate the worth of their claim and recover the full amount. Our mission is to approach the legal process with the utmost care, compassion, and professionalism. If you were in an auto accident, get the compensation you deserve. Contact us at Silva Injury Law, Inc. today.