Whether you sustained injuries in a car accident or suffered significant property damage because of another driver’s negligence, you may have questions about the worth of your car accident settlement. You might wonder how much compensation you can expect and what the average settlement for a clam might be.
While you can calculate general settlement amounts and arrive at a reasonable average of what you might recover as part of your car accident claim, you cannot predict how much compensation you can reasonably recover after a car accident. Car accident settlements often depend on various factors, influencing how much compensation you ultimately go home with.
Average Car Accident Settlement Values
On average, car accident claims that involve injuries have an average settlement value of approximately $29,700. Crash settlements that do not involve injuries have an average value of around $16,700. However, many factors can influence the compensation that car accident victims ultimately recover for their injuries and overall suffering. Don’t expect any averages to apply to your claim.
Factors That Influence Your Car Accident Settlement Value
As you determine how much compensation you can reasonably expect for your car accident, your lawyer will review multiple factors to learn more about potential factors affecting the value of your claim. With this information, you can more skillfully move forward to maximize your compensation.
1. Who caused the accident?
Liability can have a heavy bearing on the claim in several ways. First, the party that caused the accident will generally bear liability. That party likely carries an insurance policy designed to provide protection in the event of a car accident. Most drivers have at least the minimum auto insurance.
Minimum auto insurance varies by state. That means that if you have an accident with a driver from New York, you may recover a different settlement amount than if you have an accident with a driver from Pennsylvania.
In addition, your settlement amount may depend on whether other factors contributed to your car accident. A lawyer can help you review any additional parties that may have contributed to the accident.
- Did a driver’s employer have dangerous policies, including pushing a driver to speed or ignoring dangerous weather conditions, that raised the risk of the driver causing an accident?
- Did a mechanical failure on either vehicle cause or contribute to the accident?
- Did you have an accident with a drunk driver who obtained additional alcohol from a local bar or restaurant while already intoxicated?
Determining who caused the accident can go a long way toward helping you determine how much compensation to expect from your accident claim.
2. What insurance policy covers the accident?
Once your lawyer helps you identify the party that bears liability for your car accident, you may need to review that individual’s auto insurance coverage. A lawyer can evaluate the coverage offered by the policy. A driver with only minimum liability insurance might not offer more compensation as part of the car accident claim. On the other hand, a driver with a more extensive policy may provide additional compensation in the event of an accident.
A lawyer can evaluate all elements covered by the car insurance policy and help you shape your car accident claim. For example, an insurance policy might cover a certain amount for damage to your vehicle and offer compensation up to a certain amount for a rental car while you wait for repairs to the damaged vehicle.
The policy might also offer additional compensation for certain types of damage, depending on the injuries you sustained. A lawyer can help evaluate exactly what compensation the policy offers and how you can claim maximum compensation for the damages associated with the accident.
An estimated 12.6 percent of motorists may not carry insurance, despite state laws that levy heavy penalties for driving without insurance. In this case, you might need to use your own auto insurance to compensate for the accident.
You may use:
- Comprehensive or collision coverage
- Uninsured motorist coverage
- Underinsured motorist coverage, which provides assistance when the liable driver does not carry adequate insurance
If you need to use your auto insurance policy, talk to a lawyer about your coverage and how you can secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Even your own insurance agent may not automatically offer the assistance you need to determine what coverage you might have and how to pursue it.
3. What property damage occurred as a result of your car accident?
Property damage can have a significant bearing on your car accident claim. Property damage and injuries fall under different categories of most car insurance policies. That means you can claim compensation for both types of damage.
After a serious motor vehicle accident, you may have immense damage to your vehicle. You will need to take your vehicle to a repair shop recommended by the insurance company to get an estimate of what repairs will cost. You do not have to use that shop to complete those repairs, but you do have to use the insurance company’s preferred method to get the estimate.
The repair shop will submit the estimate of damages to the insurance company. If those damages exceed the insurance company’s threshold, generally around 70-75 percent of the vehicle’s value, the insurance company will generally choose to total the car. Then, you will receive the vehicle’s replacement value rather than the repair cost.
You may also want to talk to your lawyer about additional property damage that you sustained because of the accident.
- Damage to electronics in the vehicle, including your phone or laptop
- Replacement for any car seats or other childcare devices in the vehicle
- Damage to personal possessions in the vehicle at the time of the accident
In many cases, you may have significant property damages related to the items inside the vehicle, not just to the vehicle itself. Make sure you include them in your claim so that you can pursue reasonable compensation for your losses.
4. What injuries did you sustain in the accident, and what medical treatments did you need for those injuries?
As you review your injury claim and your expected compensation after a car accident, your medical bills will likely top the list of your expenses. Your medical bills often indicate the severity of your accident. For example, if you suffer a spinal cord injury, you may have higher medical bills and need to pursue more compensation than if you only suffered broken bones.
Speak with your lawyer about all medical expenses associated with the accident. Remember to include co-pay and deductible amounts you paid before receiving medical treatment, not just bills, as these will also count toward your compensation.
Discuss expenses stemming from:
- Emergency medical care, including both ambulance transport and emergency room bills
- Care received in the hospital, including any surgeries or procedures (these may arrive as separate bills from the initial hospital procedure)
- Ongoing or follow-up treatment from your care providers
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Durable medical equipment
Speak with your lawyer about any expenses to renovate your house to maintain your independence and get around after your accident. People who suffer a long-term inability to walk, for example, may need to install wheelchair ramps or widen doorways.
In addition, discuss your likely future medical needs with your provider. In many cases, you may have considerable future medical needs related to your injuries. You might need future procedures, perhaps in several months or even years. Not only should you consider the cost of ongoing treatment, but consider the cost of those future needed medical procedures so that your lawyer can include this as part of your car accident claim.
5. How much time did you miss at work because of your car accident?
Missed time at work can cause financial devastation. You can often lose your income while recovering from your injuries. In the meantime, your bills keep coming. You may burn through sick and vacation time to generate income during your recovery. Unfortunately, it does not take long for your paid time off to run out, especially if you do not have disability insurance.
As the victim of a car accident, you can claim lost time at work in your injury claim. Talk to your lawyer about the time you miss at work. Do not just include time missed immediately after your accident, but also time missed for any follow-up procedures associated with the accident: time missed because you had to have another procedure, for example.
Discuss any ongoing appointments causing you to miss further work, including physical or occupational therapy appointments. Many of your appointments during recovery happen during the traditional business day, making it difficult for you to keep to your regular work schedule.
6. Did your car accident cause injuries that will permanently prevent you from returning to work?
As you discuss your injury claim with your lawyer, include information about any permanent disabilities, including disabilities that might prevent you from returning to the job you held before the accident. In some cases, you might need to permanently change your industry because of the accident. Your injuries may even prevent you from working altogether.
If you permanently lose the ability to work because of a car accident, your lost earning potential may be part of your accident claim. Talk to your lawyer about how to calculate the value of your lost earning potential.
7. Do you have a lawyer on your side?
Regarding factors impacting your car accident claim, having a lawyer on your side can make a huge difference in your ability to recover fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries. Despite clear guidelines about the losses you faced because of your accident, the insurance company may not offer reasonable compensation or support as you manage your claim. You may have difficulty dealing with the insurance company if you file the claim independently without an attorney’s support.
A lawyer can ensure that your claim progresses more effectively. When you work with an attorney, you can feel more confident about the outcome of your claim and potentially recover more compensation. Most car accident victims find that, even after covering the cost of their legal fees, they recover more compensation after working with a lawyer than they would have alone.
Do You Need an Attorney to Help With Your Car Accident Claim?
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, having an attorney on your side bolsters your ability to seek the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after your accident to learn more about your right to compensation, how to proceed with your claim, and more.