If you have been in a car accident, you may be wondering how much you can expect an insurance company to pay to cover your damages. One type of resource you may find while seeking answers to this question is an online car accident settlement calculator. But is the number produced by these calculators accurate? The following article discusses how these calculators work and how to understand and use the numbers they produce.
None of the car accident settlement calculators available online produce figures that have any real authority. Also, there is no common system used by all car accident settlement calculators. Instead, these systems allow you to input certain information that the calculators use to generate estimates based upon some potentially authoritative sources and data about historical payouts by insurers.
The accuracy of a car accident settlement calculator will therefore depend upon the information it allows you to provide, the information the calculator uses to estimate different kinds of damage, and the ability (or inability) of the system to account for the peculiarities of your individual case.
Many calculators will request that you provide information about your vehicle and the damage it took in the accident. The calculator will then produce an estimate of the value of the car which may or may not take into account details such as the initial value of the vehicle, its condition, depreciation, mileage, and other factors.
The calculator's estimate of costs to repair or replace the vehicle may or may not take into account the cost of a specific car's parts, or it may, in many cases, simply produce a figure that is an average of repair costs for vehicles with front-end damage, for example.
Like the calculation of damage to your vehicle, the valuation of injuries is often the result of reference to charts that set dollar amounts for specific kinds of injuries. These charts are often produced using average payouts in injury cases of a similar sort. The problem with these estimates is that body parts, unlike car parts, are difficult (if not impossible) to replace or repair and are not interchangeable or traded in the marketplace.
Injuries are also capable of producing drastically different impacts depending on the person injured. The loss of a leg, for example, might result in enormous financial, emotional, and psychological damage to a young professional dancer or athlete. And though the same injury would also be terribly serious to a retired computer programmer, the valuation of these two injuries is likely to be quite different because they affect the earning capacity of the two parties quite differently.
Property damage and medical expenses can be challenging to estimate, but other grounds for recovery such as pain and suffering are even more slippery. Pain and suffering are highly subjective and, as with physical injuries, might range significantly depending on the individual and their circumstances. Most car accident settlement calculators get around this uncertainty by using one of a couple of multipliers. A multiplier, usually ranging between 1.5 and 5, is applied against another line-item, usually medical expenses.
The reasoning here is that a more serious injury typically produces higher medical expenses and is more likely to result in greater pain and suffering. More than any other aspect of car accident settlement calculation, the pain and suffering multiplier should be looked at skeptically and with the details of your particular situation in mind.
Car accident settlement calculators are not accurate because you can't rely on their results. Most calculators fail to gather enough information to adequately determine the amount of your individual claim. However, they can still be useful for providing general estimates.
Get Help With Your Car Accident Settlement: Call an Attorney Today
A lawyer's advice is frequently much more accurate than a car accident settlement calculator. They can ask questions and receive information that is much more detailed and specific to your situation than any calculator available. They may have experience dealing with the insurers involved and with local courts, which helps provide more accurate estimates. Contact a local motor vehicle accident attorney to learn more.