As you can probably imagine, we get this question a lot. The answer depends on so many factors that it’s difficult to generalize. We can tell you to regard any quick offer an insurance company makes to you with skepticism. They’re not operating with your best interests at heart. For that, you want to contact an attorney.
The Average Car Accident Settlement Is…
Irrelevant. Here’s why. It all depends on the severity of your accident, the severity of your injuries, the medical treatment you require, and maybe the insurance company. It can even depend on how much insurance the at-fault driver has.
Don’t get hung up on statistics. Your accident, injuries, and circumstances are unique. It doesn’t matter if you had one of the most common types of car crashes, your case is still unique. You need to know a lot more than an “average number” for your decision making process – especially if that number comes from the insurance industry. You may be entitled to more. Let’s walk through it.
Compensation for a Car Accident Injury Settlement Should Cover All of Your Harms and Losses
Many people think, “I just need my medical bills paid and my car replaced.” There’s a great deal of nuance in just that thought, not to mention other possible harms and losses not even mentioned. Here’s what you should be considering.
If you suffer a soft tissue injury – something that is not permanent or disabling – you might recover from that injury in weeks. You may have doctor’s visits, medication for pain, and perhaps medical scans and a bit of therapy. If you have personal health insurance, the out-of-pocket cost may be minimal, but if you weren’t at fault, you should never have had to pay in the first place.
What if you have a more severe injury? For example, if you break your leg or herniate a disk in your back, the treatment costs go up significantly. You may have casts, crutches, more medications, and more follow-ups. You may require surgery, physical therapy, and even more scans. It’s not hard to rack up more than $100,000 in medical care for a severe injury.
You’re injured through no fault of your own. You’re probably not going to be able to work. And you may be forced to burn some or all of your vacation days. How is that fair?
Truthfully, you should seek compensation for the wages you were unable to earn while dealing with your injury, and you should also seek compensation for those vacation days. How much can you get? One important question is, how much do you make?
This may be helped by an out-of-work note by a medical provider if you’ve missed more than 2-3 days immediately after the wreck. A lot of insurance companies may not consider lost wages for more than a few days without that additional note from a doctor.
CALLOUT: If your car accident injury occurred while you were driving for your job, you might also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
And, again, before you settle, are you going to have to miss work in the future? Are you going to be unable to do something and barred from rising through the ranks or increasing your value – and, therefore, your wages? Consider these possibilities before you settle.
Pain and Suffering
How do you put a price on the pain you’ve felt? The discomfort that made it impossible to sleep? Whatever you’ve suffered, you should seek compensation for it. It wasn’t your fault, so why should you grin and bear it? And what about the anxiety, stress, and mental anguish you endure?
Insurance companies may plug your case information into a computer and come up with a number. They may vastly undervalue pain and suffering, which can be the most harmful part of a car accident injury. What could someone pay you to endure that pain that you would find reasonable?
What Happens to the Money From an Average Car Accident Settlement?
When we reach a settlement with an insurance company, it’s generally a lump sum settlement – one big chunk of money to cover everything in the case. A settlement is, generally speaking, just a negotiated amount of compensation for all harms and losses up to the limits of the insurance policy or policies that apply.
Once the insurance company sends us that money, we usually have to pay health insurance providers (Medicare, Medicaid, federal health plans, etc.) and medical lienholders out of that money. As we work on a contingency fee, this is also when our attorney’s fee and any costs we fronted may be paid.2 The rest goes to the client.1
Let’s be clear. The offers that some insurance companies may make to individuals prior to our involvement are often too low. The adjuster’s goal may be to get the claim off of their desk as quickly as possible for the least amount. When these offers are made, the individual is often still treating and may not be fully aware of the extent of their injuries or the ultimate cost of treating them.
And if you settle with the insurance company, it’s almost always binding. Settling for too little could be a massive mistake, especially if you’re still in pain and have doctor’s appointments to attend.
Find Out What You May Get From a Car Accident Settlement by Contacting an Attorney
We can examine the specific circumstances of your case, search for applicable insurance policies, and overall try to find avenues to all possible compensation for our clients. In some cases, multiple policies may be available – trucking accident cases, for example.
A personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and give you a good idea of what you may be able to expect. We’re also experienced negotiators, and we’ll fight hard against the insurance companies. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, contact an attorney before settling with an insurer. In fact, if possible, contact us before you even speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Think about it. Why would you care what the average car accident injury settles for? Your injury is unique and deserves individual consideration and attention. Do yourself a favor. Have an attorney in your corner.