A wreck is a stressful time for anyone. As an injured victim, you’re probably in pain, perplexed by the insurance process, and worried the damages might break the bank. If it’s your first accident, you may have no clue what is a fair settlement for a car accident.
Greedy insurance companies are counting on this. They’re hoping to take advantage of your vulnerable situation.
So how can you find out what is a reasonable settlement for a car accident in Louisiana?
On this page we’ll take you through the process we use to determine the average settlement for a car accident victim.
Table of Contents
Last year, people were injured in over 40,000 car accidents in Louisiana. Many of those victims are also dealing with totaled cars. With aching bodies and no reliable transportation, they might be missing time from work. How can they make ends meet?
An auto accident results in many losses for a victim. In legal settings, these losses are called “damages.”
You can add up your damages to predict how much to expect from a car accident settlement. However, because a car crash changes your life in multiple ways, there are different categories of damages. Let’s take a look at them below.
Economic damages, also known as monetary damages, refer to expenses that are easily quantified and proven via copies of bills, receipts, invoices, etc.
If you’re drowning in months of expensive medical bills, car accident settlement compensation should reflect this.
But keep in mind every case will be different.
For example, there will be a big difference in how much money you collect from a wrist injury from a car accident settlement versus a traumatic brain injury. The average settlement for a rear end car accident will be different from the average settlement for a multi-vehicle highway accident caused by a truck rollover.
Typical car accident settlement amounts include some or all of these economic damages:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance rides, surgeries, diagnostic imaging, prescription medication, and mobility aids like wheelchairs and crutches.
- Ongoing care, such as help at home or physical therapy sessions.
- Lost wages. Carefully track the time you are missing from work while you recover from your accident injuries. Pay stubs, timesheets, and statements from your employer can be used as evidence.
- Lost earning capacity. If your injuries left you permanently disabled or disfigured, you may have to modify your responsibilities at work or switch to a different type of job entirely. Your attorney can consult an expert witness like an economist to estimate how much money you’re missing out on in your lifetime.
- Property damage. If your car was damaged in the crash, you can collect compensation for the repairs. If your car was totaled, you can receive compensation in the amount of its current market value. If any personal belongings were lost or damaged in the crash, you can include them in the claim as well.
- Other accident-related expenses. Keep track of everything! If you’re bedridden or unable to perform certain tasks due to your accident injuries, you may need to hire help with cooking, cleaning, childcare, pet care, transportation, and more. You may be able to collect compensation for all of this.
- Funeral and burial expenses, in the event of a fatal accident and subsequent wrongful death claim.
In a car accident settlement, pain and suffering is just as valid as the bills you’ve been getting in the mail. Calculating pain & suffering can be difficult. It’s hard to put a price on “abstract” losses like these, but they can still be included in your final car accident settlement. Examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional turmoil and anxiety
- PTSD symptoms (nightmares, flashbacks, etc.)
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disability, scarring, and disfigurement
Sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, punitive damages exist to directly punish and penalize the reckless driver who caused your accident.
Note: Punitive damages are not available in every case. They will only apply to cases involving extreme negligence and willful endangerment. For example, per Louisiana Civil Code article 2315.4, in Louisiana drunk driving accident victims may be eligible to collect punitive damages. (According to data compiled by Louisiana State University, there were over 17,000 DWI cases in Louisiana in 2019 alone; Jefferson parish and East Baton Rouge were the biggest offenders.)
When they’re all added together, these damages will represent what is a fair settlement for a car accident.
Every case is different, and only a car accident lawyer knows how to get the maximum settlement from your car accident. By carefully tracking your expenses and consulting with expert witnesses, a lawyer can let you know what is a fair settlement for a car accident.
Everyone makes mistakes, but one misstep after a car accident could cause you to miss out on thousands of dollars! Here’s what you need to avoid:
Not Starting A Claim
Many of us were taught it’s best to “forgive and forget,” but a car accident is no time to take chances! Sometimes an at-fault driver will apologize to you at the scene of the accident and beg you not to report it. They might offer you cash or say they have connections at a body shop. Don’t accept this. Always call your car insurance company and the other driver’s car insurance company to report the accident and start a claim, even with minor car accidents in Louisiana.
The immediate aftermath of a car accident is overwhelming and frightening. Your top priority should be the health and safety of yourself, your passengers, and anyone else involved in the accident.
However, once everyone is accounted for, there are some things you can do to strengthen your case and help determine liability. Besides exchanging basic contact information and insurance information with the other driver(s), use your phone to take photos of their license plate and multiple angles of the accident scene. These photos can be valuable evidence for your claim!
Giving A Recorded Statement
After an accident, insurance adjusters will call you and try to pressure you into giving a recorded statement. This is a trick, and you don’t have to comply! They will attempt to twist your words and use them against you in order to reduce your settlement amount.
You are under no legal obligation to provide a recorded statement about your car accident. Know your rights, and don’t back down.
Going Without Legal Representation
After a wreck, the other driver or their insurance company might tell you involving a lawyer is a bad idea. They claim a lawyer will cost money or complicate the entire process.
Don’t fall for it. Strong legal advocacy is what you need right now.
A personal injury law firm handles it all. An experienced Louisiana car accident lawyer will know how to write a settlement letter for a car accident, how to negotiate a car accident settlement, how to counter car accident settlement verbally, and best of all, how to get you more money!
We want you to know what to expect, every step of the way. Below are the phases of a typical personal injury claim.
- First Consultation: A personal injury lawyer meets with you—virtually or in person—for a free case evaluation. You answer questions about the accident, your injuries, your expenses, and more. If you both want to move forward with a claim, you will be asked to sign a retainer agreement.
- Filing Your Claim: Your personal injury lawyer reaches out to insurance companies and any other relevant parties to let them know you have legal representation. We make phone calls and send letters to report your accident and officially file your claim.
- Medical Treatment: Your health is our first priority. Even if you received emergency treatment at the scene of the accident, you may need additional medical care or physical therapy. We can connect you to providers at no upfront cost.
- Evidence Collection: Your car accident lawyer will collect photos, police reports, witness testimonies, surveillance footage, and much more to build your case. We’ll also enlist the help of investigators and experts like crash reconstruction specialists if necessary.
- Letter of Demand: After you complete your recommended course of medical treatment, we obtain copies of your medical records, bills, and payroll information to determine your total expenses and lost wages. We include these in the letter of demand we send to the at-fault party’s insurance. Remember, for the most accurate estimate and best chance at a satisfactory settlement, all medical treatment recommendations must be closely followed. This may take multiple months. The at-fault party will then accept or reject this demand, or make a counteroffer.
- Offers & Negotiations. If you receive a counteroffer, your lawyer will begin negotiating your settlement. We’ll update you every step of the way. Once you and the at-fault party’s insurance company agree on a settlement amount, you will be required to sign a release which prevents you from seeking any future compensation. (Before you agree to a settlement amount, always consult with your personal injury attorney.) Next, your car accident lawyer will submit a settlement package to the insurance company. This package includes evidence and proof of your suffering as well as a summary of your expenses.
- Filing a Lawsuit. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, you can file a lawsuit. While the majority of personal injury claims are settled without a trial, our team is always prepared to go to court and fight for you. The lawsuit begins with a document called a complaint, which identifies the plaintiff and the defendant and outlines the claim. The complaint also includes a demand for judgment, asking that the defendant pay damages. The defendant will receive a court summons and must respond to the complaint document with a document known as an answer, wherein they admit or deny fault.
- Discovery & Mediation. The discovery period is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit where both sides investigate the facts of the case. (Your lawyer already prepared for this during the “evidence collection” period!) A neutral mediator may step in and attempt to facilitate a satisfactory settlement. If mediation does not work, the case goes to trial.
- Trial. At trial, both sides present evidence and argue their case in front of a judge and jury. A decision will be made, fault will be determined, and compensation will be awarded. (In some cases, the at-fault party may request an appeal, and the verdict will be reviewed by a higher court. This can make your case drag on longer.)
- Settlement Check Disbursement. Whether you settled out of court or were awarded damages by a judge, there’s money coming your way! After your law firm deducts their legal fees and settles your liens, you will receive your compensation in the form of a settlement check.
Now that you know the steps of the settlement process, you might have a few more questions. Let’s tackle them below.
How Long Does it Take to Get A Car Accident Settlement Check?
The sooner you start the process, the better. A certain time limit—known as the statute of limitations—applies to all car accident cases, but every state has a different time limit.
The Louisiana statute of limitations for car accidents is one year from the day of the accident.
But once you start your claim, how long does it take to get a settlement check from a car accident? Collecting evidence and negotiating with the insurance company can take a while, but once you officially accept a settlement offer, it can take around six weeks to receive the settlement check.
You will need to sign a car accident settlement agreement form before the check is given to your lawyer. Your lawyer will pay off any medical bills or medical liens involved with your case, then deduct their legal fees before disbursing the rest of the settlement to you.
Can Passengers Collect Car Accident Settlement?
Yes, money is available to a passenger in a car accident settlement. Our Louisiana personal injury lawyers secure major car accident injury settlement amounts for drivers and passengers every day. We want our next victory to be yours!
How Much Does A Hospital Get in A Car Accident Settlement?
Your medical bills are included in the economic damages category of your demand letter.
Your car accident lawyer can get your medical bills paid by filing a lien and/or issuing a letter of protection. This ensures that the medical providers will be paid with a portion of your settlement money, but only after your treatment is completed and your case is settled.
How Much Tax Is There On A Car Accident Settlement?
The economic and non-economic damage compensation of your car accident settlement is tax-free. In Louisiana, car accident settlements are not taxable, except for punitive damages.
How Much Does A Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
We have good news: Because most personal injury lawyers work for a contingency fee, you pay them nothing up front. Our payment depends upon your success! We collect nothing unless they help you win your case and settle your claim. Even then, you don’t pay out of your own pocket; we deduct a portion of your settlement before you receive your disbursement check.
Okay, so what if you win? How much will you get from a car accident settlement after lawyer fees are taken out?
Typical legal fees are one third—or 33.3%—of the total settlement amount. For example, if your lawyer secures a $150,000 settlement for you, they will take approximately $50,000.
We hope we’ve given you a clearer picture of what is a fair settlement for Louisiana residents who’ve been in a car accident. In summary, a car accident settlement should reflect the total expenses from all applicable damage categories such as your medical bills, car repairs, and pain and suffering. If there are multiple at-fault parties, your settlement offers may be even larger!
For more steps to take to settle your claim, reach out now for a free consultation by calling 504-608-1038. We are available 24/7. Get the money you need, with help from the experts you deserve!
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Louisiana?
Louisiana Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
When Should You Contact A Lawyer After An Accident in Louisiana?
What Percentage Do Car Accident Lawyers Take in Louisiana?
What Kind of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle in Louisiana?
How Long Does It Take to Settle A Personal Injury Case in New Orleans?
How Do You Negotiate A Car Accident Settlement Without A Lawyer in New Orleans?
Is It Worth Getting A Lawyer for A Minor Car Accident in Louisiana?
Hit & Run Guide | New Orleans Car Accident Lawyers
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.