Ohio Personal Injury blog


How Is a Car Accident Settlement Calculated in Columbus?

April 25, 2022


Car accidents are, unfortunately, very common. In 2021, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported nearly 270,000 crashes throughout the state. Many crashes lead to serious injuries and economic damages. Choosing to negotiate a car accident settlement with the other driver’s insurance company instead of going to trial is a good decision for most people. A trial can be a stressful experience to add to the trauma of a car accident. Settling is a much quicker process that allows you to recover compensation and start moving on from the accident sooner.

Each car accident settlement is calculated depending on its unique details, but there are some general factors that insurance companies almost always consider. Looking at these factors won’t give you an exact number, but they can give you an idea of the compensation you might receive. This starting point is useful because it allows you to both enter the settlement process with reasonable expectations and have a better sense of whether an offer is a good one.

Special Damages in a Car Accident Settlement

Special damages are all of the economic and monetary harm you experienced because of the accident. This includes:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages and lost earning potential

This is the most straightforward part of your settlement calculation since these are all actual monetary losses that can be calculated fairly objectively. Lost wages are calculated based on your daily earnings for each day you were unable to work because of the accident. Medical expenses include any doctor or hospital bills you incurred, including ongoing treatments like physical therapy, as well as ambulance fees, and prescription medication costs.

Calculations do become more complex when they include future losses. If you were seriously injured in the accident, you may have ongoing medical expenses. If your injuries impacted your ability to work or to do a certain type of work, your long-term earning potential might be impacted.

General Damages in a Car Accident Settlement

General damages are the less tangible mental and emotional effects of the accident. These include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

While these effects are more difficult to express as a number, they can have just as much, if not more, impact on your life than the financial effects. Pain and suffering are determined based on how serious your injuries were. If you have ongoing anxiety, fear of driving, or trouble sleeping, these will contribute to your emotional distress claim. Finally, if your injuries have an ongoing impact on your quality of life, such as limiting your ability to participate in your hobbies, you may be able to request additional damages for loss of enjoyment. These intangible damages are important to accident victims but difficult to quantify. This is where it is crucial to work with a great personal injury attorney.

Many insurance companies will try to use the multiplier method (where they take the economical damages and multiply them by a number between 1 and 5 depending on the severity of the accident) in order to determine general damages. However, this is generally a poor indicator of a person’s true pain and suffering.

For example, an injured person may have very high medical bills, but minor injuries. Or vice versa, their medical expenses may be very low after large health insurance writeoffs, but they are left with serious permanent injuries. These intangible elements of general damages are completely overlooked with the multiplier method. An attorney will be able to help make sure all details are taken into consideration when calculating general damages. Details such as a coworker stating that before the accident, the injured person never took a day off of work. Or that they ran every day prior to the wreck and are no longer able to enjoy these activities after the wreck.

Ohio Damages Limits

If you were in a serious accident and might receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, you should be aware of Ohio’s caps on damages. Noneconomic general damages cannot be more than $250,000 or three times the economic damages (with a maximum of $350,000), whichever is larger. The exception to this limit is if you were left with a substantial, permanent disability, such as a spinal cord injury. If this is the case, there is no limit to general damages.

A Skilled Ohio Car Accident Attorney Can Maximize Your Settlement

This is only a starting point for calculating a car accident settlement. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, working with an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer will help you get the best settlement. They can advise you about whether the settlement you are offered is fair and will fight to negotiate the maximum settlement amount available to you. If the insurance company will not agree to fair terms, your attorney will be prepared to go to trial. Call our office today for a free, no-obligation consultation.