How Much to Expect From a Car Accident Settlement?
If you are injured in a car accident, it can be challenging to know what to do next and how much to expect from a car accident settlement.
You might have many questions about what to do next, such as how to pay for your medical bills and how much money you can expect from an average car accident settlement.
We understand that vehicular accidents can cause life-changing injuries and emotional suffering. Therefore, we want to ensure that you receive the monetary compensation you deserve. The Soffer Law Firm Miami Personal Injury Attorneys are here to help. We offer free consultations to learn more about your legal rights and options.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
Victims of car accidents have the right to expect a settlement following their legal damages. Personal injury attorneys and insurance companies will evaluate how much a typical car accident settlement a victim can recover. Minor accidents may have a lower settlement, while severe crashes have a higher settlement.
The victims of an auto accident can demand the following legal damages:
- Lost wages and future earning capacity
- Medical costs (medical treatment expenses or physical therapy)
- Property damages
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Psychological and physical pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
- Loss of consortium
The objective of the settlement is to help the victim and make them return to their normal state physically and psychologically. This is why a typical car accident settlement includes financial compensation for all the aforementioned legal pain and suffering damages.
Keep in mind that the value of your personal injury claim won't be restricted or limited to the number of your medical care expenses because a typical car accident settlement must cover all the losses the victim has experienced. And these are physical, mental, emotional, and financial aspects. Non-economic damages like emotional distress, pain, and suffering are also included.
The compensation that the victim's legal damages cover will be based on how critical the car crash is and how severe their injuries are. Minor accidents that don't result in physical injury or minimal property damage usually have small settlements than severe injuries and fatal crashes.
Below are the most severe car crashes that amount to a larger car accident settlement:
- Reckless driving
- High-speed collisions
- Immense pain and suffering due to severe injuries
- Injuries that may permanently cause the victim to never work anymore
Common factors that are present in other kinds of car accidents such as:
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone crashes
- Rear-end collisions
Yet, not all accidents are the same. Even when the previously mentioned factors are present, larger car accident settlements may come from other types of car accidents.
In general, the value of your typical car accident settlement will again depend on how major or minor your injuries are. Disabling or life-threatening injuries can recover plenty of legal damages, including medical bills.
To conclude, the average car accident settlement value is higher if the injuries are more severe. And vice versa, lower settlement if injuries are not too severe. Here are the types of car accident injuries that have higher chances of having large car accident settlements:
- Persistent and chronic pain
- Damage to the nerve
- Acute concussions
- Dismemberment or disfigurement
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Fatal personal injury cases of whiplash
- Other injuries that occurred to a high level of impairment
- Spinal cord injuries
One of the best ways to maximize your personal injury settlement is to hire an experienced and reliable personal injury lawyer. Some insurance companies will do everything they can to lowball your car accident insurance claims. But when you finally have your legal representative, these insurance companies will more likely offer fair settlements so you can end your personal injury case to them.
But if no car accident settlement is agreed upon, your car accident attorney will help you bring a personal injury lawsuit prior to the statute of limitations expiry.
What Is Included in a Settlement?
Basically, any related expenses caused by an accident are included in economic damages. And these can be verified through documentation, bills, receipts, medical treatment, and lost days from work.
Here are inclusions to the cost of other economic damages:
- Present medical bills. If you are badly hurt in a car accident, you will need an ambulance ride. Then once you reach the hospital, you will need all the emergency care, therapy, doctor's appointments, medication, and possible surgery so you can survive and live normally. Your car accident lawyer will provide you assistance to connect with medical care without an upfront cost. They will be presenting a letter of protection to assure that medical providers will be paid as soon as the accident settlement is reached. Don't worry if you have paid for your medical care from your pocket because you can still get the reimbursement. You just have to state the amount together with the bills in your case.
- Damages to your personal properties or vehicle. If your car was damaged or wrecked in an accident, keep in mind that you have the right to choose your own automobile repair shop. Do not allow a tow truck or car insurance company to choose for you. This will allow you to receive fair compensation in accordance with your vehicle's market value. Meanwhile, if you've lost your personal belongings such as phone, laptops, camera, or more. You can just have them reimburse for replacement.
- Future medical bills. Suppose you will need therapy, medical assistance, surgery, or in-home care therapy in the future. In that case, you can get your future medical expenses estimated and stated in your car accident claim.
- Lost wages. Severe injuries may hinder you from going to work. Your timesheets, pay stubs, work documents, and letters from your employers can be used to verify the hours or days of work you have been missing since the time of the accident.
- Lost earning potential and future lost wages. If the severity of your injuries causes you to no longer work the same role as you did before, you still have the right to demand compensation for the earning potential you lost. And your car accident lawyer can connect with economist experts to estimate your losses.
Calculating Your Car Accident Settlement
You may be wondering how much compensation you can receive from a typical car accident settlement. Although this is a common question, there isn't an exact amount because it will depend on your case. But an experienced car accident lawyer can estimate the settlement value of your case.
First, your car accident attorney will calculate your economic damages. This will be estimated together with your medical expenses, property damages, and future medical costs.
Next are your current wages and future lost wages. The amount will vary on how long you are out of work during the time of the accident, how much you're earning from your work, and how long you're expected to not work.
Secondly, there will be a calculation and review of the said damages. And remember, the calculations are not fixed, as they will depend from one county to another.
Now, let's make a scenario to give you a better picture.
Suppose, for example, your arm is badly injured due to the other driver's negligence, and your medical expenses cost $8,000. In that case, the insurance adjuster will first review the breakdown of your economic costs. From their point of view, they may see only a minimum number of events, like treatments for your arm, the ambulance you used to get to the hospital, prescripted medicines to ease the pain, and only one to two days missed from work.
But to you, it could be traumatic and depressing, which may affect your physical and psychological well-being. Yet, insurance companies will treat you just like the other typical car accident cases they encountered (where the compensation amount is too small), with the hope that you'll sign away your rights immediately.
This is why you should hire a car accident lawyer to help you with proper decision-making and someone who will be there for you fighting in the most challenging times.
Factors That Impact the Amount of a Settlement
When filing for a third-party insurance claim, know that you are limited by the caps of the at-fault driver's insurance policy.
In Texas, for example, the minimum requirement for car insurance will be 20/60/25. That is like $30,000 for each injured person, $60,000 in total accident amount, and $25,000 for the property damages.
Severity of Injury
Serious injuries like brain and spinal cord injuries can make a huge, negative impact on your life and activities. You won't be able to move the same, fulfill your work responsibilities the same as before, and have speech or eyesight difficulties after the accident. Because of a serious injury, you may need lifetime medical care.
The auto accident settlement will be higher in terms of extreme or debilitating injuries. And for paralysis and severe brain injuries, the settlement amount can even reach hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions.
Number of At-Fault Parties
If you are hit on an empty street, you may think of only seeking compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company. But if you are hit by a commercial vehicle or got caught up in a multi-car pile-up, there might be multiple scenarios for the amount of your compensation.
Your car accident lawyer will be the one to investigate every option you deserve for the compensation and look for liable parties involved.
Length of Treatment
Usually, until the victim has recovered or completed the treatment, that's the only time the personal injury case will be settled. Severe injuries may need more than one surgery or months of therapy. However, minor injuries may require these as well, but lesser. Because of this, you need to follow your doctor's advice and appointments strictly.
Gaps in Treatment
It is vital to keep all your medical care records or receipts. Because if you ever miss any appointments or take too long, insurance adjusters will only assume that you are not severely hurt, which can go against your claim.
Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are the deadlines and time limits for accident claims. And if you exceed that deadline or time limit, your car accident case could be entirely dismissed. And that means you won't get any compensation either.
Statutes of limitations for car accidents vary wildly depending on the state of the accident. The statute of limitations could be anywhere from one year to six years.
Act as soon as you can. Talk to one of our car accident lawyers to receive your compensation as early as you can.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. Meaning to say, they won't get paid until you get paid.
Once your case has successfully ended, the attorney fees will be deducted from the total of your settlement amount. But don't worry, you are already informed beforehand. These matters will be discussed before you hire an attorney.
Personal injury attorneys often work on a contingency basis. This means their payment is contingent upon your success, and they do not get paid until you get paid. They will deduct their attorney fees from your total settlement amount at the end of your case. This amount will be discussed when you hire your attorney at the start of your case.
Current or Future Medical Expenses
These expenses include costs for hospital or medical treatment, physical therapy, surgeries, or pharmaceutical drugs. And the settlement you get from your car accident claim will be used to pay or reimburse these costs.
You may receive a separate settlement amount for future medical expenses in some cases. This is because there might be an incident that happened in the past but additional expenses still need to incur in the future.
Current and future medical expenses are included in a car accident settlement payment. This includes any current and future increase in your healthcare costs caused by your injuries. In some cases, a separate settlement sum may be paid out to account for projected future medical expenses due to your car accident injury.
As a car accident victim, you may also suffer damages to your vehicle. But don't get the idea that the car insurance company will just pay for them immediately. They might even ask you to get another estimate or repair work done before they can consider these losses as well. This is why your attorney will advise you on filing claims of compensation for these damages too.
If you're injured and unable to work, your attorney will take both past and future losses into account. These losses can include:
- How much money you lost from the time of the accident up until now; and
- What your loss of earning capacity is for the future.
This includes both actual (past) earnings and impaired (future) earning capacity, such as when your injuries cost you a promotion or prevent you from working at all.
Your car accident attorney will consider property damage in addition to medical expenses and losses caused by an auto accident.
Your attorney will consider out-of-pocket expenses that you had to pay for right after the accident. This may include medical bills, lost wages from time off work, other financial obligations, or losses incurred after your accident.
What if I Was Partly to Blame for the Car Accident?
Numerous accidents happen because both drivers are negligent in different ways. And one of the most significant factors in evaluating the possible compensation amount is if the victim is partly to be blamed for the accident. In some states that use the contributory negligence system, victims found at fault could no longer recover any damages. Some states use the comparative negligence system, which allows the victims to recover damages even if they are partially to blame. But their compensation will be reduced by the percentage of their fault.
Will the Insurance Company Pay for the Automobile Accident?
If the at-fault driver has liability insurance coverage, the driver's insurance company will settle the car accident amount. But the amount, however, will be capped from the policy limit. And the remaining amount will be acquired from other sources so the victim won't go uncompensated.
So the best option is if the at-fault's liability insurance policy exceeds or is higher than the victim's car wreck damages. This is so the insurance company can fully cover the entire settlement.
If it's the other way around, and the policy limit is lower than the victim's damages, they will have to look for the remaining amount from other resources, and these can come from:
- The victim's insurer. If s/he has an underinsured motorist coverage.
- Other parties who are responsible for the car crash. Like the defective car part's manufacturing company or the defendant's assets.
And if the at-fault driver is uninsured, then the victim will struggle to look for potential sources to recover the needed compensation. With this, the possible financial sources a victim can get are:
- The defendant's own personal assets
- Insurance claim against the victim's insurance provider. If only the victim has uninsured motorist coverage.
Having a car accident attorney by your side will help you get the settlement and fair financial compensation you need, especially if the responsible driver's insurance policy won't fully cover your damages and losses.
What if the Insurance Provider Refuses to Offer a Fair Settlement?
Most insurance companies might give you a low and unfair settlement offer if you reach out to them regarding your typical car accident settlement. But even if they do, always remember to never settle for less than what you deserve.
The amount of your settlement can be higher depending on how your attorney deals with the negotiation. An experienced personal injury lawyer is best in negotiating the fairest offer you have to receive, and they will not settle quickly.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Will Help You in Obtaining a Fair Settlement
If you have been suffering from injuries due to a car accident caused by another's negligence, hiring one of our personal injury attorneys is the best decision you can make. Our lawyers know exactly how to deal with auto insurance companies and will be able to get you the best settlement for your injuries.
They will work on getting your medical expenses paid for, as well as any other financial obligations you may have incurred because of the accident. Most importantly, they will help make sure you receive fair and just compensation for your losses.
Do not hesitate to contact us at (786) 788-7344. Or feel free to fill out our contact form on our website, and we'll reach out to you as quickly as we can.