A fair settlement after a car accident is one that adequately compensates you for all of your covered losses to the fullest extent of the law. If you want to calculate what a fair car accident injury settlement might look like in Las Vegas, you need to know four crucial things first:
- The exact amount of your economic losses (i.e., medical bills, lost wages, and/or property damage)
- How non-economic losses may be quantified in personal injury cases
- What is and is not covered by an at-fault driver’s insurance policy
- Your right to compensation under negligence tort law
Once you know these four things, you’ll be able to more accurately estimate the value of your car accident claim. And, with the help of an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer, you’ll have a much better chance of securing the maximum possible settlement for your injuries.
Compensation for Economic Losses
One of the first things you need to know to find out how much your case is worth is to tally up your financial losses as accurately as possible. You need to include any and all costs incurred because of the car accident and resulting injuries, including:
- Medical expenses. This includes everything from ambulance transport from the scene of the accident to ongoing treatment like physical therapy. By requesting copies of all your medical records and bills from your treating physicians and healthcare centers, you can be very exact in calculating the amount of these costs.
- Lost wages. Car accident victims are also entitled to compensation for the time they were unable to work due to their injuries. If you are paid hourly, simply multiply the total number of working hours you missed by your hourly wage to find your lost wages. If you are a salaried worker, you can calculate your hourly rate by dividing your annual salary by 2,080 (the number of weekday work hours in a year). Those who are self-employed or do freelance work can claim lost income based on a previous year’s 1099 form.
- Lost earning capacity. If you will be unable to return to work for some time or if you were so severely injured or disabled that you cannot return to your previous line of work, you may also be entitled to compensation for future income loss and/or lost earning capacity. Calculating these amounts may be a bit more tricky and will most likely require the assistance of a trained personal injury lawyer.
- Damage to your car or other property. Economic losses also include the damage to your car and any items of value damaged in the accident. An estimate from a trusted mechanic can give you an idea of what it will cost to fix your vehicle. If your car is considered totaled, you’re entitled to the full amount the car was worth before it was in an accident.
- Funeral costs. If someone is killed as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the responsible party may also owe the deceased’s family compensation for funeral and burial costs.
Bottom Line: A fair settlement after a car accident should include the amount of your medical expenses, past/future lost wages, lost earning capacity, the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged car or property, and funeral expenses (in cases of wrongful death).
Compensation for Non-Economic Losses
After a car accident, you deserve to be compensated for all of your losses, not just the ones with an obvious price tag. Subjective, non-monetary losses are often referred to as pain and suffering, and represent the emotional and physical toll of a car accident. Compensation for pain and suffering may also include:
- Worsening of prior injuries
- Emotional distress or PTSD
- Loss of society or companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
There are a few methods attorneys may use to calculate the value of your pain and suffering. In the multiplier method, you multiply the value of your economic damages by a number between one and five (the more severe the injuries, the higher the number). Another method is the per diem method, in which a specific dollar amount is assigned to each day between the accident and when you made (or are expected to make) a full recovery.
Bottom Line: Whether through a car accident insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, injured victims are eligible to receive compensation for the physical and mental pain, suffering, and anguish they experience as the result of an accident. This amount can range from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars depending on severity.
Car Insurance Coverages and Limitations
It’s a fact that most car accident claimants won’t ever see the inside of a courtroom, as the vast majority of claims are settled between insurers and claimants or their attorneys without having to go to trial. This is good, because it significantly reduces how long it takes for you to resolve your case and receive your settlement. But on the other hand, working within a car insurance company’s claims system means you’ll most likely face limitations on how much money you can recover.
How Car Insurance Works in Nevada
Like many other states, Nevada uses a fault-based car insurance system. This means that the car insurance company of the at-fault driver* is responsible for property damage, injuries, and the aforementioned non-economic losses of other motorists, bicyclists, or pedestrians involved in an accident.
*There may be more than one at-fault driver in an accident. Even if you were partially at fault for a car accident, you may still be eligible to recover a portion of your losses.
In Nevada, the minimum amount of insurance coverage that every motorist must carry is $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death per person (up to $50,000 per accident) and $20,000 in property damage per accident. That being said, some motorists may have much higher insurance policy limits. Whatever this amount is—whether it’s $25,000 or $500,000—will determine the maximum amount of compensation you can claim from the insurance company.
If your car accident claim exceeds the insurance policy limit, there are several ways in which you might collect the excess damages, including utilizing a defendant’s umbrella policy, filing an underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance, suing the at-fault driver, suing more than one defendant, or assigning your claim to a bad faith insurance lawsuit.
Bottom Line: Getting a fair car accident injury settlement may be hindered by a driver’s low policy limits. In such cases, you may need to look to other sources to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Negligence Tort Law in Nevada
If you decide to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver or their insurer, you need to have a basic understanding of Nevada’s negligence tort law. “Tort” refers to a civil (as opposed to criminal) wrong. “Negligence tort” refers to the specific kind of tort law that applies to motor vehicle accident claims. To successfully make a claim against a motorist or their insurance company, you must prove that their negligence caused you injuries for which you are entitled to damages.
How Much Money You Can Get From a Civil Lawsuit
As for settlements themselves, there is no limit to how much you can receive in compensatory damages for car accident lawsuits in Nevada. (Whether or not you’ll ever actually see the money you’re owed depends on the assets of the defendant.) However, if a judge decides a defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious and decides to award additional punitive damages, this type of award is capped at $300,000 for compensatory damages less than $100,000, or three times the amount of compensatory damages if they exceed $100,000.
Bottom Line: Negligence tort law in Nevada generally does not limit how much money you can recover in a car accident injury settlement with the exception of punitive damages. One way to get around car insurance policy limits may be to sue the at-fault driver directly.
How to Maximize Your Car Accident Injury Settlement
ER Injury Attorneys has been fighting for injury victims’ rights to fair compensation since 2011. In that time, our lawyers have secured millions of dollars in fair settlements on behalf of injured clients. If you’ve recently received an underwhelming first settlement offer from the insurance company or you just want to review all your legal options after an accident, we can help.
Our qualified legal team handles a wide range of personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout southern Nevada, including, Clark and Nye County, all Las Vegas area, Boulder City, Laughlin, and Pahrump. Call us today at 702-878-7878 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We’ll review the details of your case, go over all your legal options, and help you make the right decision for you and your family.
Should you decide to hire us, we charge you no legal fees unless we make a recovery on your behalf. Give us a call, connect with one of our LiveChat agents standing by, or fill out this form to request your complimentary case review now.