What is a Fair Settlement for My Louisiana Auto Accident?

January 31, 2022 General

What is a Fair Settlement for My Louisiana Auto Accident?

There are a large number of factual considerations that determine what is a “fair settlement” when making an insurance claim for a Louisiana automobile accident. Generally, what is “fair” is directly related to the severity of the injuries, loss of wages/income and the amount of pain and suffering. So, for example, if the total medical bills are $30,000 (a severe injury) and the lost wages/income amount to another $10,000, a “fair” settlement would exceed $40,000 in order to compensate the victim for pain and suffering and other damages.

But, another important factual consideration is the limit on the insurance policy coverage. If the limit on the policy is $25,000 — a common limit — then a “fair” settlement from the insurance company is the “policy limits” which is $25,000. This is “fair” even though the amount does not fully compensate the victim. This is one reason that it is crucial to have the legal advice and assistance of experienced Louisiana personal injury attorneys. One important task of your trusted attorneys is to locate any and all potential defendants who may have their own insurance policies and to consider other potential insurance policies that might be triggered. For example, does the at-fault driver have a home-owners insurance policy or some sort of “umbrella” policy that might provide coverage in excess of the auto policy limits? Other examples include:

  • An auto repair shop that might have made a faulty repair that was causally connected to the accident
  • The auto manufacturer
  • The government agency responsible for maintaining the roads and intersection where the accident occurred

Finding other applicable insurance policies will help ensure that a settlement is “fair.”

Three other important factual considerations are whether the events and/or injuries are disputed, whether there are/were any preexisting medical conditions and whether there is any significant evidence that the victim had some fault for the accident or the injuries. If the evidence is clear that one party — and only one party — is “at fault,” then a “fair” settlement is one that maximizes payment from that party and their insurance carrier. But, if the parties vigorously dispute what happened, then a “fair” settlement might be less than the policy limits and less than the medical bills. Parties may agree to a settlement of that sort because settling is quicker, less risky and less expensive than filing a personal injury lawsuit.

The same is true if there is a vigorous and legitimate dispute over the injuries. For example, if there is a legitimate argument that the victim’s injuries existed before the accident, a “fair” settlement might be much less than if the injury was not preexisting. A preexisting condition does not preclude a settlement. However, a victim is only entitled to be compensated for the aggravation of a preexisting condition. A “fair” settlement for an aggravation of a preexisting condition is generally less than when the accident causes a completely new injury.

The same calculation applies if there is a vigorous debate — and evidence to support the debate — that the victim may have had some responsibility for the accident. Louisiana is a comparative negligence state where, if a victim is partially at fault, a percentage of fault is assigned to the victim and that percentage is deducted from the compensation owed by the other party. Thus, for example, if the other driver is 75% at fault and the victim is 25% at fault, then a “fair” settlement would include a 25% reduction in the award from the insurance company.

There are a number of other factual matters to consider if the injury is long term and future medical bills and loss of income is expected. A “fair” settlement must account for those future damages in addition to the ones already suffered.

Our Attorneys Can Help

 For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.