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What Is a Reasonable Settlement Offer for My Car Accident Claim?

August 28, 2023

An auto accident can change your life. If another driver was the cause of your life-long injuries, a car accident settlement is meant to compensate for the financial, physical, and emotional toll of your accident.

But how do you know whether your settlement offer is reasonable or fair? That’s more challenging.

If you’ve been the victim of another driver’s negligence and you don’t agree with the insurance company’s offer, you should know that you can push back for a higher amount. You deserve to be compensated for the full extent of your personal property damage, medical bills, and pain and suffering. A car accident lawyer like Karl Truman can help you understand a reasonable settlement offer and negotiate for that amount on your behalf.

The Insurance Company’s First Offer Is Usually a Bad One

The insurance company will often lowball the initial settlement offer rather than offering an amount that you deserve. The reason is twofold: one, insurance adjusters are trying to save the company money, and two, they consider the initial offer to be the beginning of settlement negotiations.

Unfortunately, many accident victims accept a low settlement offer because it’s the easiest thing to do. Perhaps the stress of the accident is too much and they want to get past the accident aftermath and move on with their lives. Or they need the settlement money right away because their medical debt is growing quickly, and they don’t see another way out.

Insurance companies can take advantage of the stress, anxiety, and desperation you feel in order to pressure you to settle your case for less.

However, for most injury victims, accepting a lowball offer is a big mistake. While it might be the fastest way to put your legal case behind you, you need to be sure that your settlement is at least large enough to pay for your long-term needs and get your life back on stable financial ground. The short-term relief won’t be worth the long-term challenges ahead.

At Truman Law Office, we always put the needs of our clients first. We want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a wise decision about whether accepting a settlement offer, making a counteroffer, or filing a lawsuit is in your best interest.

How Personal Injury Lawsuit Settlements Are Calculated

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The calculations for personal injury claims are just as complicated as the accident and recovery. More severe accidents typically result in more complicated calculations.

There are many factors that go into most personal injury claims following a car accident, including:

  • Whether you were partially at fault for the accident
  • The extent of your injuries
  • Whether medical treatment is completed or ongoing
  • The insurance policy of the at-fault driver
  • The extent of property damage
  • Any other economic or non-economic damages as a result of the accident

The insurance company might have tables and charts that they use to provide an early settlement offer, but since every claim is unique, this calculation is often considered a starting point for personal injury settlement negotiations.

RELATED: How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take in Indiana and Kentucky?

The Components of Good Settlement Offers in Personal Injury Cases

Without knowing the specifics of your personal injury case, it is impossible to estimate a dollar figure. There are a number of things that could really affect the amount of your personal injury claim.

While you may be able to look at your own case and make a reasonable estimate, an experienced personal injury attorney will almost certainly give you a more accurate idea of the true value of your claim. This is especially true if your case involves significant injuries or complex questions about liability.

If you believe you have a good settlement offer, but it does not include the following components, you should seek an experienced personal injury lawyer to see what a good settlement amount would be.

Medical Expenses

Any medical expenses you pay for should be covered by your claim.

You should always seek medical care immediately following an accident, and do your best to recover as much as possible—this includes attending physical therapy appointments or anything else as directed by your doctor. This helps us establish that your injuries were truly caused by the accident, you’re doing everything you can to get better, and your treatment expenses are reasonable and should be covered by your injury claim.

You should not settle your claim until you’ve reached maximum recovery, so that you can make sure the full extent of your medical bills are accounted for. If you cannot wait for that point, a personal injury attorney can advise you on the complicated calculations for future medical costs.

At Truman Law, we work with medical specialists, life care planners, and other experts who can give us an accurate assessment of the long-term financial costs of your injuries.

Reimbursement for Property Loss

Any personal property loss should be reimbursed, including vehicle damage or replacement and personal possessions inside the vehicle.

If your accident only caused property damage—that is, you had no injuries or lost time at work—you probably don’t need an attorney to handle your case. Feel free to download our free guide to handling property damage claims without a lawyer if you need help getting started.

RELATED: What Is Property Damage in a Car Accident in Kentucky?

Lost Wages

If you lose income due to the accident, including time that you must attend doctor’s appointments and physical therapy, that should be included in your settlement agreement.

If you have a reduced future earning capacity due to the accident, your claim should include that as well. For example, your injury may leave you permanently disabled in a way that reduces the number of hours you can work, limits your career path (for example, by reducing the likelihood of promotions), or forces you to change occupations.

Pain and Suffering Damages

Your accident may leave you with lingering aches and pains, and may limit your activity levels or even shorten your lifespan. These factors, along with the physical and emotional stress of the accident, are used to calculate financial compensation known as “pain and suffering.”

Other Non-Economic Damages

If you have other factors as a result of your accident, such as disfigurement, cognitive deficits, a lower quality of life, etc., then a good settlement should help you recover compensation for those damages.

Insurance companies typically estimate non-economic damages by either multiplying the economic damages by a factor between 1 and 5 (the “multiplier method”) or by counting the number of days that pass before you reach maximum medical improvement and multiplying it by a daily rate (the “per diem” method).

RELATED: What Are the 3 Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

Tactics Used by Insurance Companies to Reduce Their Payout

Two people reviewing and signing documents

The goal of the insurance company is to offer you the lowest amount that they think you will accept, and not the amount that you are truly owed. Their calculations almost always end up being in their favor, rather than offering you a personal injury settlement that reflects the extent of your suffering.

In fact, they may try to trick you into admitting that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. An insurance company may use the following shady tactics against you:

  • Say that you weren’t really that hurt, particularly if you didn’t immediately seek medical attention.
  • Find social media posts showing you doing activities or having a good time, and using these as “proof” that you are not in pain or experiencing emotional distress.
  • Disputing “invisible injuries,” or questioning the validity of injuries that don’t physically present symptoms.
  • Trick crash victims into giving recorded statements or signing record authorizations. They may even call you on the phone, ask how you’re doing, and if you say “I’m doing well” they try to use that as proof that you are not as injured as you claim.
  • Dispute liability by claiming that you were also responsible for the accident. If they think they can prove you were distracted while driving, or if you admit to being on your phone, they will certainly use that against you.

Personal injury cases can be tricky to argue, especially if you are on your own. As the injured victim, you may be against an experienced team of insurance company lawyers who are skilled in the art of avoiding a fair settlement offer. Wouldn’t you prefer to face them with a team of experienced personal injury lawyers on your side?

Need Help After a Crash? Call Karl Truman Law Office Right Away

Settlement negotiations can be frustrating and stressful. Without an experienced attorney at your side, the insurance company may have you at a significant disadvantage.

It’s not reasonable or fair to shoulder the burden of a legal case while you’re also trying to get better from your injuries and be there for your family. Let us worry about the insurance company so that you can worry about what really matters.

If you’d like to hear about what we can do for you, please take advantage of a free consultation with our team. With the details of your particular case, we can advise you on what to expect for a settlement amount, legal proceedings, and more. Just give one of our offices a call: in Louisville, Kentucky, call (502) 222-2222 or in Jeffersonville, Indiana, call (812) 282-8500. You can also fill out our online contact form.


Martindale-Nolo Research. (2023, April 28). Personal Injury: How Much Can I Expect to Get? Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.