Car accident settlement value is not determined by any secret formula or calculation. Anyone who claims to know or guarantee what a settlement in any given case is worth, is not being truthful, unless they are talking about value in the context of statutory or insurance policy limits.
Car accident settlement value is a compromise point arrived at by adversarial interests, each of which is estimating what a jury would award as compensation if the case were to go to trial. The settlement value is not a reflection of what your friend or neighbor claims to have gotten, it is not based on what an attorney may have achieved in prior cases, and it is not what the insurance company thinks it should pay. All those factors may impact the parties negotiation stance and their ultimate decision whether to settle at some point, but they are not determinative. The only real determinative factor is what a jury would award, and that cannot be known with any certainty, until the case goes to jury.
Settlement value in the typical automobile accident case includes compensation for medical bills, wage loss or loss of earning capacity, and pain, suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life. Some of these damage items require an expert opinion on permanent injury. There are rules of evidence, which apply to proving each item of damage in order for the question to be put to a jury.
In addition, there are innumerable intangible factors that influence what a jury may do at trial. Lawyers spend a lot of time preparing cases for the demand to the insurance company and then for trial if the case does not settle, and we try to incorporate the concepts we study relative to how juries make decisions. But under the best of circumstances, it is all supposition ultimately. However, insurance companies are aware of these factors as well and insurance companies can tell if a given law firm is aware of the lay of the land based on the demand presentation and other factors.
Does more car damage mean a larger settlement? The answer is, probably, if the car damage correlates with mechanism of injury and the injury severity. If that sounds like lawyer talk, no its honest talk. For example, if a car is totaled but the passenger walks away with no need for medical treatment, there is no correlation. On the other hand, there are crashes with relatively minor damage, but a susceptible passenger suffers a significant aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin our attorneys have experience valuing car accident settlements based on the factors discussed above.