Factors Affecting Compensation for Auto Accident Injuries In Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
There are many factors that can affect the amount of money that an insurance company will voluntarily pay to compensate someone who was injured in an automobile accident. Please consult me about your case if you want any explanations about any of the items that follow.
Also, these are factors that might also influence a judge or a jury if the case cannot be voluntarily settle, and is then taken to court to be decided.
A) The At-Fault-Party’s Negligence
- How the accident happened. If the injured party is determined to be even partially at fault, then the law of “contributory negligence” will bar, or prevent any recovery against the other party.
- Are there conflicting accounts (he said, she said) about how the accident happened?
- Was the injured person 100% at fault and can it be proven?
- Where did the accident happen? What county?
- Are there witnesses, not in the injured person’s vehicle, that actually saw what happened and who will agree to help and testify for the injured person if necessary?
- Are there photos depicting the roadway where the accident happened, or even better, is there video that shows what happened?
- The exact time of the accident — daylight or dark outside?
- Lighting conditions
- How minor or severe was the impact? Is there visible damage to the injured person’s vehicle, and does it “look like” there was a hard impact?
- Did the vehicle’s air-bags deploy?
- Was the windshield, or side door window, or back window broken or shattered?
B) The Injured Person’s Behavior and Characteristics Before, At, and Right After the Accident
- Is the injured person married?
- What is the injured person’s age?
- Gender (important in cases of scarring or disfigurement)
- Did the injured person consume alcoholic beverages, or take drugs or medications, within 12 hours before the incident?
- Does the injured person wear glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids?
- Was the injured person suffering from any physical infirmity, disability, or sickness at the time of the accident?
- Did the injured person have any pre-existing injuries to the same, or even to other body parts that were injured in the accident?
- Was the injured person working at the time of the accident or incident? If so, what type of work? Physically demanding work, or a sedentary job?
- Social media accounts and what may have been posted
- Does the injured person have a criminal record, and specifically, are there convictions that suggest a lack of honesty, such as fraud?
- The income or salary of the injured person
- Was 911 called?
- Did the injured person take an ambulance to the hospital?
- Did the injured person talk to any insurance company representative after the accident?
- Exaggerating injuries, lying
- Did the injured person fill and take Pain Medication after the accident?
C) Medical Considerations, and again, actions of the injured person after the accident
- Type of injury — the more severe, the more compensation
- Is there a need for surgery?
- Are there any scars?
- Length of time between the accident and the first medical treatment, and then, length of time between that first treatment and first follow-up with a doctor
- Gaps in medical treatment (waiting or not getting medical treatment for periods of time)
- Total length of time injured person was treating and was under the care of any doctor for their injuries (longer treatment does not necessarily mean more money, but this is something to consider).
- Are the injuries permanent?
- Are the injuries disabling?
- Does the injured person have a disability rating as a result of their injuries?
- Who are the injured person’s doctor(s)?
- How accurately do medical records reflect the injuries, limitations and other issues?
- Do the doctors relate the injuries to the accident?
- Did a doctor tell the injured person not to work for any period?
- Did the injured person work anyway? If so, why? “Because I had to, to support myself and my family” is an excellent answer.
D) Other Important Factors
- Will the injured person make a good witness if the case has to go to trial? By that I mean will the injured person present well? Are they credible and will they be believed? Can the injured person relate their story by talking to and looking at the judge or the jury, rather than mumbling and providing short “yes” or “no” answers to questions?
- Is the at-fault party likeable?
- Who is the at-fault party and was that individual working at the time of the accident? And if so, who was he or she working for? A private employer or a big corporation?
- Who is the at-fault party’s insurance company? Is it a residential or a commercial policy?
- What are the limits of liability for the at-fault party? Virginia and Washington, D.C. require a minimum of $25,000.00, and Maryland requires $30,000.00. This is not a consideration in smaller cases, but might be if injuries are severe or permanent, or if medical bills are significant.
- Does the injured person have “Under-insured Motorist” coverage on their automobile insurance policy? If so, it can provide more money, if the coverage is higher than the at-fault party’s liability coverage.
- Is the insurer using claims evaluation software for bodily injury claims?
- Past injury verdicts (and settlements) for a particular injury.
- Does the injured person have an attorney? An experienced injury attorney? Injured people get, on average, 3x more money if they have an attorney, even after the attorney’s fees are paid, than people who try to settle on their own, without an attorney. That’s because insurers have no incentive to be fair with injured people, but, with attorneys, they are concerned about going to court. So, as injured people need attorneys to go to court, settlement offers are much less without attorneys involved.