If you have been injured in a car accident in South Carolina, you need to know how much you can recover. This is critical for dealing with the insurance companies, and as your claim progresses, you will need to know when (and if) you should consider accepting a settlement.
So, how do you calculate your losses? The answer is not as straightforward as many people think. Unfortunately, the insurance companies know this, and they will often try to take advantage of the fact that accident victims don’t know how much they are entitled to recover.
CALCULATING YOUR FINANCIAL LOSSES
Let’s talk about calculating your financial losses first. These are the losses that have a direct impact on your bank account—your medical bills, other out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.
One of the most important things to know about calculating your losses after a car accident is that you are entitled to compensation for your collision’s current and future costs. As a result, not only do you need to know how much your injuries have cost you to date, but you also need to know how much they are going to cost you in the months, and maybe even years, to come. This means that you need to know things like:
- Your future medical treatment needs (including surgery, doctor’s visits, therapy, and prescriptions)
- How long your medical treatment needs will continue
- How long you will be out of work
- Whether you might be able to work in a different job
- What other ongoing expenses you will incur as a result of your injuries
Figuring all of this out is not easy. You will need your doctor to provide an opinion regarding your long-term treatment needs, and you may need a financial analyst to calculate the “present value” of your lost future earnings. Due to these challenges—and the importance of accurately calculating your losses—you will want to work with an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney.
CALCULATING YOUR NON-FINANCIAL LOSSES
In South Carolina, car accident victims can also recover compensation for their non-financial losses. These are losses that do not have a direct financial impact but impact victims’ lives in significant and tangible ways.
Chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma are all examples of non-financial losses, and they are often grouped as “pain and suffering.” Other common non-financial losses include loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of services and support, and loss of enjoyment of life.
While these are all genuine consequences of serious car accidents, they do not lend themselves to a precise calculation. South Carolina law does not place a specific dollar amount on pain and suffering or losing the ability to enjoy spending time with your family. Instead, the amount car accident victims can recover for their non-financial losses is typically calculated in one of two ways:
- Based on Financial Losses – One common method of calculating non-financial losses is by starting with the victim’s financial losses. Based on the severity of the victim’s injuries and various other factors, this figure is multiplied by a number, typically between one and five, to arrive at a round number that reflects just compensation for the victim’s non-financial losses.
- Based on a Daily (Per Diem) Rate – Another method that is commonly used is to calculate a daily (or “per diem”) compensation rate. This rate is then multiplied by the number of days that the victim is reasonably expected to experience the non-financial effects of his or her injuries.
FACTORS THAT WILL IMPACT THE AMOUNT YOU CAN RECOVER
Those are the basic considerations that go into calculating just compensation after a car accident in South Carolina. As you can see, the amount you can recover depends entirely on your personal circumstances. Numerous factors will determine how much you can recover as a result of your collision.
Some examples of the factors that your attorney will need to evaluate when calculating your financial and non-financial losses include:
- The nature of your injuries
- The severity of your injuries
- Your medical expenses to date
- Your anticipated future medical expenses
- Your lost earnings to date (including wages, salary, bonuses, commissions, tips, and benefits)
- Your anticipated future lost earnings
- Your other current and future expenses (including transportation costs, home modifications, and paying for service providers)
- Your daily pain levels
- Whether your injuries will result in permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Whether your injuries prevent you from engaging in certain activities
- Whether you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, or any other condition
- How the physical and emotional effects of the accident impact your relationships
Believe it or not, this list is nowhere near exhaustive. When seeking compensation after a car accident, all of the details matter. The more you and your attorney can focus on the specific impacts of your injuries on your life, the stronger the case you can build for recovering your financial and non-financial losses.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHEN (AND IF) TO SETTLE YOUR CLAIM?
Given all that goes into calculating your losses after a car accident, and given that there is no precise method for placing a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, how do you decide when (and if) to settle your claim?
Deciding how to resolve your claim is one of the most important and most difficult decisions you will need to make. Typically, you and your attorney will arrive at a range (i.e., $90,000 to $110,000) within which you are willing to consider a settlement. If you receive an early settlement offer at the top of the range, you might choose to go ahead and accept. If you need to fight to get to the bottom of the range, then this might be an offer you accept as well. But, you will ultimately need to make a decision based on what you believe is right for you—and you will want to rely on your auto accident attorney’s advice to ensure that you are making an informed decision.
TALK TO A SOUTH CAROLINA CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER FOR FREE
Do you need to seek financial compensation for injuries you sustained in a car accident in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To speak with one of our experienced South Carolina car accident lawyers for free, call (803) 327-1103 or contact us online today.