The Value of a Car Accident Case in Virginia Depends on MANY Factors
There is no "settlement formula." An experienced attorney will be able to give you his or her best judgment once all of the facts are known, including the extent of your physical injuries, mental distress and loss of income. Be very wary of Internet Damage Calculators. Most of the calculators you see on the Internet are actually lawyer advertising-lead generation devices and you may find yourself fending off hundreds of calls and texts from desperate lawyers.
Determine the Nature and Extent of Personal Injuries and Damages
To begin the calculation of the settlement value of your personal injury case in Virginia, the claimant must prove that the defendant acted negligently or intentionally and caused the claimant to suffer injuries.
The more serious the injury, the larger the settlement value
There are four types of damages to consider while evaluating your personal injury settlement value:
Economic Damages are measurable compensatory damages:
- Lost Wages
- Future Wage Loss
- Lost Earning Capacity
- Future and Past Health-Care Costs
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Mental Anguish
- These damages are a lot harder to measure
In most cases, the more severe the injuries, the greater value of pain and suffering.
It is important to always take photos of the scene of the accident. Some insurance companies base their settlement decisions on the existence of damage to the claimant’s vehicle. Having photos of the damage will help the claimant secure the best possible settlement.
Having photos of the accident and damage to the claimant’s vehicle can also potentially help them secure money for the cost of repairs to the vehicle.
In Virginia personal injury cases, the claimant can receive punitive damages if it can be proven that the defendant acted intentionally or negligently. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions and prevent others from acting in a similar way.
If the claimant is hit by a drunk driver in Virginia, the claimant has a chance to recover punitive damages.
When dealing with punitive damages in Virginia, there is a cap of $350,000. This means that even if a jury awards you more than $350,000 in punitive damages after hearing evidence of the Defendant's bad conduct at trial, the award is going to be reduced to $350,000.
In Virginia a jury has discretion to add interest to all or part of a verdict. The jury sets the date that interest will run from. Interest in Virginia is 6%.This can help the claimant when the awarded damages are large, and the case takes a long time to go to trial.
Uninsured and Under-insured defendant
In many cases, the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have much coverage. That is why we recommend that all Virginia drivers have at million-dollar UIM policy. That may sound like a lot, but UIM coverage is inexpensive. For a few dollars more a month, you can easily increase your UIM limits and protect yourself from future uninsured drivers.
In the event that you were hit by a driver without insurance (it happens more often than you think), the attorney will need to look at alternate opportunities for you to financially recover damages. It is possible that the lawyer will be able to find coverage on the car (even if the driver was uninsured) or through the driver's household. But the most likely result is that you will have to make a claim against your own uninsured motorist policy.
If you don’t have a UIM policy and the other driver has no insurance, you could sue the other driver and go after their financial assets. However, it’s highly likely that an uninsured driver does not have many high-value assets, and there it’s likely you won’t be able to recover from their personal assets.
It is always a good practice to find as much information as possible before moving forward in settlement negotiations. If you believe that an attorney can bring value to your case, then you should reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney and consult with them.