How Much is My Car Accident Case Worth?
General damages, lost wages, medical bills and more in Washington personal injury casesBy S.M. Oliva | Last updated on January 26, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- Understanding the Different Types of Damages
- What If You Were Partly to Blame for the Accident?
- When You Need an Attorney and When You Don’t
Understanding the Different Types of DamagesEvery motor vehicle accident is unique. And before filing a lawsuit, you should always consult with a qualified Washington personal injury lawyer first. But here are some things a car accident attorney will typically look at when trying to assess the potential value of your accident case:
- Medical expenses – As mentioned above, this includes not just your past or present medical bills, but also the estimated costs of any future care you might require for your accident-related injuries.
- Lost income – If you are unable to return to work following a car accident, you are entitled to recover any lost past or future wages.
- Other Economic Damages – This covers any other readily quantifiable form of damages, such as the costs of repairing your car or replacing any other tangible property lost in the accident.
- Non-Economic Damages – This is commonly referred to as “pain and suffering,” and is meant to cover those damages that are real but not easily quantified. Some states actually limit the amount of non-economic damages that a car accident may recover. Washington State technically has such limits, but the state’s Supreme Court held they were unconstitutional.
- Loss of Consortium – When you are injured in a car accident, your spouse may also have a claim against the negligent parties for the loss of your support and care.
What If You Were Partly to Blame for the Accident?In some states an accident victim cannot recover any damages if he or she is found even 1 percent responsible for the underlying accident. Fortunately, that is not the law in Washington. Instead, Washington courts apply what is known as a “pure comparative fault” rule in accident cases. This means that you can still recover damages against a negligent party, regardless of your own degree of fault, but your award will be reduced accordingly. To give a simple example, let’s say a jury decides you sustained $100,000 in total damages in a car accident. The jury also decides you were 30 percent at-fault. The defendant would then only have to pay you 70 percent of the damage award, or $70,000.
When You Need an Attorney and When You Don’tIt’s not easy to know if an attorney will help your case or not. Regardless, it’s always in your best interest to reach out to a reputable personal injury attorney for legal advice as early on as possible. It’s common in personal injury practice for attorneys to have an initial consultation with a potential client, and this will likely be free of cost to you. In other words: You have nothing to lose. Sometimes during these consultations, Davis says, “I tell them, ‘You can probably get as much or more without an attorney.’” What that dollar amount is will vary depending on the attorney you speak to, but Davis notes that they tend to be claims under $20,000. “You shouldn’t hire an attorney unless they can add value to a case,” Davis says. “The case has to have enough value to justify the expense of a lawyer.” For more information on car accident claims, truck accidents, car accident lawyers, car accident settlements, insurance claims, personal injury claims, car accident injuries, car crashes, settlement amounts, and motorcycle accidents, see our overviews of personal injury, trucking accidents, and car accidents.
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