Legal Guide

How to Calculate a Car Accident Settlement

By Steven M. Gursten, attorney and president of Michigan Auto Law


Getting into a car accident is stressful, and it can be even more so when you're trying to figure out how to go about getting compensation for your injuries. Although there are many do-it-yourself car accident settlement calculators that can be found on the internet, the best way to get an accurate and reliable estimate of what a settlement might be worth in your case is to speak with an experienced attorney who specializes in litigating car accident cases and in helping people and families who have been injured in crashes.

Here are the steps you can take to help you understand how an experienced car crash lawyer will calculate the settlement value of your case. 

  1. Seek medical attention first

You should seek medical attention right away. Get a police report taken, and if you are injured, get documentation from your doctor stating what your injuries and prognosis are. This will help in calculating the value of your claim.

  1. Keep track of everything

It's important to keep track of everything. You won't be able to make a claim if you can't prove what happened, so gather receipts for medical bills and police reports. Record witness names, contact information, and the date that the accident occurred so you know when it is okay to file a claim. Save photos and videos of damage caused by the accident (if possible). Keep copies of emails sent during or after negotiations with your insurance company so that they cannot deny having said something in an email later. And lastly: keep text messages from any witnesses who saw anything!

  1. Assess your special damages

Calculating your special damages involves assessing the value of lost wages and possibly vehicle damage, depending on the laws of the state in which your car accident occurred. 

  1. Assess your pain and suffering damages

Pain and suffering damages can be a large part of the value of your claim. The pain can be mental or physical. And the suffering may include depression or feeling less confident due to your injuries; it may also include emotional distress caused by others (i.e., if someone insults you because of your injuries).

Pain and suffering damages are usually determined based on the amount of money that would compensate you for experiencing this kind of hardship.

Pain and suffering damages are typically considered as an element of general damages. Their value is estimated by taking the value of a person's medical bills after being injured in a crash and multiplying that value by a number that reflects the seriousness of the injury; the extent of the medical care needed; the injury-related disabilities and impairments; and the long-term prognosis for the person.

  1. Hire a good lawyer who knows how to calculate damages

Once you have established that your claim is worth pursuing, it's time to hire a good auto accident lawyer. The ideal candidate should have experience in car accident cases and be able to show you case examples of settlements reached in similar cases so that you can understand the value of your case.

Your lawyer should also be willing to work with you to get the best settlement possible, which may require them doing additional research into other aspects of your life (such as income) or doing additional investigations into witness statements.

Finally, your lawyer should have the experience and skills to be able to successfully navigate the legal system so that you can get compensation for all injuries sustained in the crash. This includes ensuring all medical bills are paid by insurance companies and even being involved in negotiations between insurers over who pays what after an accident occurs.

A car accident can be traumatic and costly, but you can get the compensation you deserve if you take the right steps.

Special and general damages are important parts of a car accident claim because they provide proof that an injury occurred as a result of another person's actions (or inactions).


The steps to calculating a settlement after being injured in an automobile crash can seem daunting, but they are necessary if you want to get the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important that you seek medical attention first and keep track of everything else that happened. You should also hire a good lawyer who knows how to calculate the settlement value of your case so they can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.

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