The average settlement for a car accident in Bloomington, Illinois depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of your injuries, liability, reliability of evidence presented, and type of treatment sought. As such, determining the value of the accident claim requires legal knowledge.
The ambiguity of the average car accident settlement amount is just one reason victims should hire a Bloomington car accident attorney soon after getting injured in a car accident. An attorney can help you establish if you have a valid claim, determine the value of your damages, and initiate the claims process. A lawyer can take the case on a contingency fee basis, where he or she will earn a specific percentage of the compensation amount if you win, or on a fixed-fee basis.
Factors That Determine Settlement Amounts for Car Accidents in Bloomington, Illinois
A settlement is one of the most important points in a personal injury case, since it is the amount of money you are entitled to after sustaining an injury in a car accident. It can cover a victim’s incurred medical bills, loss of income or earning potential, and pain and suffering.
In Bloomington, Illinois, anyone who sustains an injury in a traffic crash caused by someone else is eligible for compensation. Those entitled to compensation include pedestrians, passengers, bicyclists, and drivers. Since each car crash is unique, the settlement amount will vary based on the following factors:
Liability for the Car Crash
You may only be entitled to 100% of the settlement or compensation amount if another person is solely liable for causing the crash that resulted in your injuries. Your compensation will get reduced by the percentage of your liability if you share some fault in the accident. You will, however, be ineligible for compensation if you are more than 50% liable for the accident.
The Type and Severity of the Injuries
Car accidents put people at risk of sustaining different types of injuries, which vary with the level of impact and nature of the accident. Your car accident settlement will depend on the severity of these injuries.
More severe injuries attract a higher compensation or settlement amount. Examples of severe injuries include amputation injuries and brain injuries. A less severe injury comprises minor bruises and cuts.
Your car accident claim increases in value if you sustain life-threatening or long-term impairments or damages. These impairments may include limb loss, complete or partial paralysis, and permanent disability related to a traumatic brain injury.
The typical car accident settlement amounts for life-changing or long-term injuries are higher, as treating and rehabilitating them costs more. They may require costly medical care, including in-home assistance. Some injuries may also interfere with your earning potential or result in long-term emotional pain and suffering, making you eligible for a higher settlement amount.
Type of Medical Evaluation or Treatment Sought
It is highly advisable to seek medical attention when hurt in a car crash. The earlier you visit the hospital, the higher the chances of getting quick treatment for the injury and preventing complications.
A medical doctor will diagnose your condition at the hospital before administering an ideal treatment. The doctor will document this information in a medical report, which you can use to prove that you sought a certain level of medical treatment.
Be sure to inform the healthcare provider about the symptoms of the injuries sustained in a car accident if you are conscious during the hospital visit. Do not leave any details when sharing this information, since it may affect your settlement or compensation amount. Note that insurance companies will use your medical records to confirm the extent of your injuries and determine your claim value.
Your Statements About the Car Accident
The words you utter following a car accident can seriously impact your personal injury claim and compensation amount. It all starts when you are talking to other people involved in the accident at the scene. The following rules will help you avoid saying anything that the at-fault party or insurance adjuster may use to devalue or deny your claim:
- Never mention anything that suggests you are to blame for the accident.
- Avoid using words like ‘good,’ ‘okay,’ and ‘fine’ when discussing your overall state since the insurance company may use them against you.
- Do not agree to give a written or recorded statement that details your version of events leading to the crash.
A seasoned car accident lawyer can help you determine if an insurance adjuster or company is trying to downplay your injuries and damages. You’ll also be less susceptible to falling for some tricks insurance companies use to compel claimants into agreeing to a lower settlement amount with a lawyer on your side.
The Reliability of the Evidence Presented
After signing a contract to retain the legal services, the lawyer embarks on evidence collection. The evidence may include your financial and medical information, as well as accident reports.
Essential evidence that may help strengthen your car accident claim include car or property repair receipts, witness statements (if any witnesses were present), police reports (if any were filed), and images or footage of the accident scene.
Your lawyer can also obtain a prognosis of your overall recovery from your doctor and documentation of lost wages and earning potential to help negotiate a better settlement amount. The lawyer can also use the information on your driving record to achieve the same goal.
How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Get from an Injury Settlement?
Most car accident lawyers do not require you to pay an upfront fee when pursuing an injury claim in Bloomington, Illinois. Instead, they will agree to take your case on a contingency fee basis, especially if it has all the elements of what makes a strong personal injury claim.
The contingency fee will range from 33% to 40% of the settlement amount, but you can negotiate a fairer contingency fee. If you lose the case, you will not owe the lawyer any legal fees.
Understanding Contingency Fees
A contingency-fee model only requires you to pay when the case ends in a win. The specific amount will vary with the circumstances of your case and the lawyer’s input.
The lawyer will collect the fee if a court rules in your favor following a car accident lawsuit. The lawyer will also do the same if settlement negotiations involving an injury claim result in a win.
The contingency fee-based arrangement works well for most lawyers and their clients, since it reduces the financial risks of accessing the Illinois court system. In particular, clients do not incur any upfront costs or lose money in case the lawsuit ends in a loss. Also, the legal team gets compensated only for the success of the case.
Preparing a Written Fee Agreement
It is crucial to draft a written fee agreement to prevent disputes over money in an ongoing car accident lawsuit. The agreement sets out the terms for your professional relationship with a lawyer and offers a valid record of the amount you will pay as legal fees.
A written fee agreement can include details on a retainer, hourly fee, contingency fee, and lawsuit costs, depending on the fee arrangement. A retainer usually mandates clients to pay a deposit in advance. If you agree to be billed hourly, the agreement should give more details about the total amount owed and the time you have to clear the bill.
The agreement should also state whether the lawyer will represent you in post-trial proceedings like judgment collections and appeals. It also needs to clarify which attorney in the law firm will handle the case and the client’s responsibilities.
How Costs Are Handled in Car Accident Cases
Always read the legal fee agreement before signing it. This way, you’ll know how the lawsuit costs will get handled at every step of the case. Costs in a car accident lawsuit comprise expenses the law firm pays to investigate and pursue your claim.
These costs include lawsuit filing fees, as well as the cost of getting accident reports from the police and medical records from the hospital. Other expenses include photocopying fees, expert witness fees, and court reporter fees incurred during depositions.
These expenses can pile up fast depending on the legal proceedings involved in your case. Your lawyer will let you know what to expect at every stage of the lawsuit. Expect the lawyer to give you a complete breakdown of the costs for transparency reasons.
The timing of when these expenses will get subtracted from your settlement or compensation amount matters. As such, the agreement must state whether these expenses will get subtracted before or after calculating the legal fees based on a car accident settlement calculator. Expect the legal fees to be higher if they get deducted before deducting the expenses.