How Much Should You Ask For in a Car Accident Settlement?

April 7, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
How Much Should You Ask For in a Car Accident Settlement?

After a car accident, you may deal with significant financial losses, many of which can impact your overall financial stability long-term. The worse your injuries, the higher the medical costs you may face, and the more difficult you may find to deal with the accident. However, in many cases, you may wonder just how much the insurance company will cover.

What should you include when you ask for compensation through a car accident settlement? If the insurance company issues a settlement offer, how do you know that it reasonably reflects the damages you have sustained? A car accident lawyer can help you calculate the full extent of your damages and negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.

A Lawyer Can Help

A lawyer can offer essential guidance and support whenever you have questions about the compensation you should receive after a car accident. The compensation you will ultimately receive from your car accident claim will depend on the damages you sustained in the accident and the insurance policy that covers the liable party. A lawyer can help you review those key elements and give you a better idea of what you should include in that compensation claim.

Common Elements of Car Accident Claims

Every car accident claim looks slightly different, depending on the damages you sustained and who caused your accident. You want to maximize the compensation you can recover for the damages you sustained, so you want to ensure you include all the relevant elements in your claim.

Compensation for Your Medical Costs

When you sustain serious injuries in a car accident, you likely need to pay for extensive medical bills due to your care. Those medical bills will often form the essential foundation of your injury claim. High medical bills typically mean severe injuries, which means you may also have higher costs for the other areas of your claim.

Talk to a lawyer about all your medical costs after your accident. You may want to ensure you include all the bills that have come up because of your injuries. Remember that if you have personal injury protection insurance, an optional type of coverage that can assist with medical expenses after any type of car accident, you will not need to claim any medical costs covered by that protection as part of your claim. However, you can claim compensation for the medical bills not covered by PIP insurance, including any medical costs that may exceed that vital protection.

Emergency Medical Care

Emergency medical costs after a car accident can rise much higher than anticipated. A simple ambulance ride can cost more than $1,000 in many areas of the country.

Then, you may need to receive care in the emergency room. Emergency medical care can include everything from an initial evaluation of your injuries to emergency surgery and treatment. Your emergency room costs may depend on how much care you need and the providers you see while receiving treatment.


After many types of severe injuries, you will need to spend time in the hospital while recovering. The longer you spend in the hospital, the higher those medical costs may grow. You may also need ongoing treatment in the hospital, which can make a big difference in your bills.

Follow-up Appointments

Once you leave the hospital, you may face numerous appointments with your medical care provider. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need multiple follow-ups and even need to juggle appointments with multiple providers. Ensure you keep track of copay and deductible costs from those follow-up appointments, which you may have to pay as you go to receive care.

Durable Medical Equipment

Patients with severe injuries often need durable medical equipment to help them get around and maintain their independence as much as possible. The extent of your injuries and how long their limitations will last may help determine what equipment you need and whether you will need to buy or rent it.

For example, you may need:

  • A home hospital bed
  • A wheelchair
  • Walkers or crutches
  • Braces
  • A medical lift
  • Home oxygen tanks or other devices to assist with breathing

Keep track of the bills associated with durable medical equipment rental or purchase so that you can include them as part of your ongoing calculation of the medical expenses related to your accident.


In many cases, patients who have sustained substantial injuries will require therapy to minimize the impact of their injuries and maximize their ability to recover.

  • Physical therapy aims at restoring lost mobility. Physical therapists may focus on helping the patient regain strength in an injured limb or offer support in regaining flexibility after a car accident. Many patients will go through physical therapy sessions for months after their accident.
  • Occupational therapy helps patients learn workarounds and adaptations for their injuries. For example, an occupational therapist working with a patient who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident might suggest strategies to help improve memory and focus. An occupational therapist working with a patient who suffered a spinal cord injury might help the patient learn how to cope with life in a wheelchair. An occupational therapist can prove essential in offering adaptations and support to patients with limited mobility or substantial physical losses after a car accident.
  • Psychological therapy helps patients deal with the psychological trauma that often accompanies severe car accident injuries. Not only can patients suffer from PTSD due to the events surrounding the car accident itself, but they may also find themselves dealing with ongoing trauma and struggle because of the limitations they have to deal with after the accident.

Many car accident victims overlook the cost of therapy when calculating how much they can claim compensation after a car accident. However, therapy can pose a substantial ongoing expense, and car accident victims should include it in a comprehensive claim.

Compensation for Future Anticipated Medical Expenses

Sometimes, a car accident will result in injuries that do not require immediate medical care but will require medical care in the next few years. For example, you might know that you will need surgery on an injured joint in the future but choose to put that surgery off for the time being because it does not immediately affect your ability to function.

In addition, you may know that some injuries will have medical costs that may last for the rest of your life, and you may want to take those under consideration as you put together your claim.

Talk to your lawyer about what your future anticipated medical expenses might look like. In many cases, a lawyer can offer substantial advice and support that may make it much easier for you to figure out how to include those costs as part of your claim.

Compensation for Lost Wages

It may surprise you how much of an impact your car accident has on your overall income. If you work at an hourly job, you may find that losing your source of income during your recovery causes immediate financial strain. Even if your employer offers sick time, you may burn through that time quickly as you recover from devastating car accident injuries.

Talk to your lawyer about how much time you have spent out of work while recovering. Your lawyer will likely encourage you to look at all the wages you lost because of your car accident, not just the time you missed at work immediately after your accident.

Did You Have to Return to Work on a Limited Basis Rather Than Going Back Full-Time?

While your injuries may no longer prevent you from working altogether, it may take some time before you can return to working your former hours. Many people, worried about the loss of income after a car accident, will return to work a couple of days a week or try to work part of a shift if their employers allow it. While those limited hours may not replace their previous income, they may allow them to generate some funds while they recover.

Talk to your lawyer about how your ability to work only limited hours and how it impacted your overall income as you recovered from car accident injuries. Your lawyer can help you determine how to claim compensation for those losses.

Did You Have to Use Vacation Time or a PTO Pool to Cover Some of the Hours You Missed at Work?

Many employers have a single pool that covers sick time and vacation time, which means that if you use your PTO to cover sick time, you may not have it to cover later vacations or other times you may want off work.

In addition, you may quickly run out of sick hours and turn to your vacation pool to provide a source of income while you recover. Unfortunately, that may mean that you no longer have those hours. Talk to your lawyer about what sick time or vacation time you had to use to cover the cost of your time off so that you can include it in your claim.

Did You Have to Miss Additional Time at Work Due to Follow-up Appointments or Additional Procedures?

You cannot always return to your usual schedule immediately after you return to work. You may have appointments that have to occur in the middle of your usual workday, which means you may need to use the additional time off and, of course, continue to miss out on income during your recovery.

Talk to your lawyer about the hours you may have had to miss for follow-ups.

  • Did you need an additional procedure or surgery that caused you to take more time off work?
  • Did you have to miss work for therapy appointments?
  • Did you routinely miss work for follow-up appointments with your care provider?

All those lost hours can introduce continuing financial strain. You can include compensation for those damages and losses as part of your claim.

Compensation for Pain and Suffering

You cannot sum up all the damages you had to deal with because of your car accident with a price tag. Many of your most difficult challenges may have had nothing to do with your income. You may, for example, have dealt with immense physical pain or suffered a considerable loss of independence as you dealt with the challenges related to your injuries.

Ed Bernstein - Car Accident Attorney near Las Vegas, NV area
Ed Bernstein, Car Accident Lawyer in Las Vegas

As part of a car accident claim, you may include compensation for the suffering you had to deal with after your accident.

Your lawyer may calculate it in one of two ways.

  • A percentage-based claim will base compensation for pain and suffering on a percentage of your overall injury claim. Your lawyer can help you determine how to evaluate that percentage based on the extent of the injuries and losses you experienced.
  • A per diem rate assigns a daily rate to the pain and suffering you dealt with after your accident. It continues to accrue daily until you have reached the maximum medical recovery for your injuries.

Talk to your lawyer about the best strategy for evaluating your pain and suffering after an accident and including it as part of a claim.

Do You Need Help Calculating Your Car Accident Claim?

Working with a lawyer can offer a number of critical advantages as you calculate the compensation you deserve as part of a car accident claim. Do not attempt to handle your claim on your own, risking the compensation you deserve. Contact a top Las Vegas personal injury lawyers to learn more about your rights.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.