The Average Personal Injury Settlement in South Carolina
(and Why You Shouldn’t Care)

As a personal injury lawyer, I’ve helped with enough personal injury claims to say, with confidence, that there’s no such thing as an average personal injury. That’s because when you’ve been hurt by another, all that matters is what you’re going through.

Similarly, what good is an “average personal injury settlement?” The tiniest detail can make your case completely different, resulting in a significantly larger or smaller potential settlement.

A lawyer handing their client a settlement check at disbursal.

In this article, I’ll try to give you some ballpark numbers and figures for what a typical case may settle for, though that “typical” personal injury case likely looks nothing like yours. Next, I’ll give you some key factors that should be considered as part of any fair settlement.

Only you and your attorney have the specific numbers you need to try to project a possible settlement, and your attorney has the extensive experience to know all the factors that should be considered before you agree to anything.

To find out what your case may really be worth, call 1-866-900-7078 now.

Personal Injury Settlements – The Misleading Averages

According to a study conducted way back in 2005 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the median awards were:

What’s misleading about these numbers? For starters, these numbers are nearly 20 years old and no reliable data has come along since then to replace them.

If that seems unhelpful, it is. Because each case is different and the law is constantly evolving, an average settlement is impossible to determine and would shed little light on what you may be owed.

Why Average Personal Injury Settlement Figures Don’t Matter

When I say that every case is unique, I mean it 100%.

You should not care about any of the numbers you read above because they lack the single most important context for any personal injury case: your circumstances.

Here are some of the major factors that can cause your potential settlement amount to vary wildly:

1) Severity of Injury

Blurred view of a red EMERGENCY sign at a hospital.

Specific circumstances and the severity of your injury matter. If your injury is a sprained ankle, you’re unlikely to get as much as someone who broke their leg. If your side effect from medical malpractice was temporary pain, you’re unlikely to get as much as someone who permanently lost their eyesight.

This is not to say you should not seek compensation for a sprained ankle or temporary pain – an injury is an injury. If you’re a parcel delivery driver, for example, a sprained ankle could keep you out of work – making a simple injury very costly indeed.

Consult with a personal injury attorney to help figure out the best move for you.

2) Location

Bright yellow wet floor sign on a white tile floor, a potential fall hazard.Where exactly did your injury occur? This question can go pretty deep and get plenty specific. “In South Carolina” is just the beginning. Were you on the road? That’s simple…unless it was a private road or parking lot, where “premises liability” might come into play.

Speaking of, were you on public or private property? Was there an event going on? Were you injured by something that you were warned about? Does that matter?

It certainly can. The location where your injury occurs may have an enormous effect on your potential settlement amount. If you’re on a public road, you’re probably looking at the driver who caused the accident that injured you. If you fall down the stairs at a store because of a loose brick, your attorney may have multiple insurance policies to investigate. It just depends.

3) Your Body

A medical technician observing images from an injured patient during a MRI scan.People are unique, and the effects of injuries differ person-to-person. Let’s start simple.

How old are you? Your age may mean you could suffer the effects of a permanent injury longer than someone else. It also could mean that you earn more money at this point in your life than if you had been injured younger, affecting your lost wages.

What about pre-existing conditions that are worsened by whatever accident hurt you? If you’ve already got a bad back, a car collision giving you whiplash and back spasms will likely have a much more severe long-term impact on you than on someone who was healthy before they were hit. Your treatment may cost more, so your potential settlement amount should account for it.

Alternatively, an insurance company may try to argue that your injury was not caused by the collision and that you had the injury all along. The insurance company may try to reduce the amount of any settlement that they offer as a result.

4) Treatment (and Records of It)

A doctor and nurse discussing test results in a manila folder at a hospital.You know the old saying about the tree falling in the forest? Here’s the version insurance companies ask: If a person is hurt in an accident but never seeks medical care, were they really hurt?

No matter what kind of injury you suffered, seek the treatment that you need to get better. Collecting your medical records can help you prove your case and enable you to seek the compensation you may deserve.

Tell any medical care provider who treats you what happened and how you were hurt. Tell them where it hurts, what you can do, and what you can’t do. The paper (or digital) trail can be critical when it comes time to negotiate a possible settlement.

5) Talking to the Insurance Company Unprepared

Close up of a person's hands texting on a cell phone.Some insurance companies may be very tricky in the way they communicate with a person making a personal injury claim. For example, leading questions. Or a friendly, “How are you on this lovely summer day?” may be an effort to soften the response. You may be thinking, “I’m in a bunch of pain,” but you might instead say, “I’m doing ok, all things considered.”

Yes, that kind of thing can be used against you.



6) Legal Representation (or Not)

You want a personal injury attorney and law firm capable of going to court and battling for you if needed. The threat of litigation can be powerful leverage.

A lawyer levels the playing field & significantly increases your odds of success.

Learn More: Do I Have to Go to Court?

How Compensation Works in a South Carolina Personal Injury Case

There are two common kinds of damages that factor into personal injury settlements: economic and non-economic. Economic and non-economic damages are collectively known as “compensatory damages.”

Economic damages are things that are easy to determine and assign a financial value to. They represent the money out of your pocket due to the injury. Examples of economic damages include:

  • medical bills
  • lost wages
  • property damage (your car, for example)
  • ongoing treatment
  • and even future medical expenses

Non-economic damages are things that you may be compensated for in a potential settlement despite having no clear price tag. They include things like:

  • pain and suffering damages
  • loss of consortium (the benefits of a familial or intimate relationship)

Another sort of damage could be punitive damages (which can only be awarded by a jury in specific circumstances and may be capped by law).

Punitive damages can be awarded, “when the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence the defendant’s misconduct was willful, wanton, or in reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s rights.” They’re solely at the discretion of a jury, though a judge may impose legal limits.

Do I Want a Settlement or a Verdict?

A settlement is an agreement between the injured party and the at-fault party (or their representative, usually an insurer). Both sides agree to an amount, and the lawsuit or claim becomes a personal injury settlement. The end.

A verdict is the result of going to court. A jury and sometimes a judge decides, based on evidence and law, how much an injured person deserves – if anything. There are pros and cons to both methods of resolving your case.

For plaintiffs (injured people), verdicts can be higher or lower than they expect. For insurers and defendants, verdicts can be extremely costly even if the insurance company wins the case. Your attorney helps you strategize the best move for you each step of the way.

Learn More: Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Calculating Damages in My Case

Economic damages – like lost wages – can be fairly straightforward. Did you miss three months of work? We can do the math on your wages, benefits, and the time off you likely lost.

Non-economic damages are where the arguments usually happen. How much compensation do you deserve for months of painful, sleepless nights? For the time you were unable to enjoy life with your spouse and loved ones due to your injury? For any ongoing or even permanent pain, disability, or disfigurement you have to deal with for the rest of your life?

Personal injury settlements are often hard-fought affairs. Evidence matters – every treatment every diagnosis, every witness. This is yet another reason why the “typical personal injury settlement” doesn’t mean much.

Example Personal Injury Cases and the Variables That Could Affect Their Settlement Amounts

While a car accident is perhaps the most common personal injury case, injuries can happen anywhere to anyone. Here are a few examples of personal injuries and the things that could have a huge effect on their settlement amounts.

Note: These examples are not based on exact stories but can be a fair representation of cases like these. Of course, even the smallest detail can make all the difference in your case.

Example 1: The Dog Bite

Brad was walking home along the sidewalk one day listening to music on his headphones. Without warning, a dog ran up and bit him violently on his leg. Brad was not trespassing and did not provoke the dog. Under South Carolina’s strict liability law, the dog’s owner – in the house he was walking past – can be held liable for the bite. Brad likely has a strong case.

But what if Brad was instead crossing the yard without permission? That could be considered trespassing, which could give the insurance company and the homeowner an out. What if the dog did not belong to the homeowner and was instead a stray? Who would Brad seek compensation from?

CONCLUSION: A personal injury settlement can depend on many factors – like finding a liable party or whether or not a circumstance prohibits a claim, such as a trespass. It also depends on if there is a law that specifically governs the type of injury suffered, as there is in dog bite cases. An experienced personal injury attorney could likely assist Brad in his case.

Example 2: The Car Crash

Shay is driving to work one day when a driver switches lanes abruptly and without warning, pushing her car into a guardrail. She has bruises but is able to move fine. She’s checked out by EMTs at the scene and goes home. Later that evening, she experiences tremendous pain in her neck and back.

It turns out that Shay aggravated a neck injury from her college days playing competitive volleyball. She needs very expensive surgery as a result.

CONCLUSION: In this case, Shay’s unique medical history has a massive effect on her personal injury case – and if the case is to settle, it would likely need to be for a much greater amount due to her surgery. Every person is different, and an accident that might not do much to Person A might be catastrophic for Person B.

Example 3: The Tumble

Chris is shopping at a large department store and takes the escalator down to the first floor. Someone pushes the emergency stop on the escalator, causing him to lose his balance and tumble down several steps, injuring his shoulder and giving him a nasty concussion.

While there is likely to be a claim on the department store’s insurance, other variables are in play. Who pressed the emergency stop and why? Does the department store own the property or simply lease it, and if the latter, is there another applicable policy? Or would Chris be barred from a claim if the need to stop the escalator was legitimate?

CONCLUSION: Something that seems as simple as falling down some stairs could be an incredibly complex personal injury case. Each different factor has an effect on the possible outcome or settlement.

Actions That Can Lower Your Personal Injury Settlement Amount

Knocked over coffee cup spilling coffee on paperwork and a laptop computer.

There are things you can do – or not do – that can greatly damage the amount you might receive in a personal injury settlement, including:

  • Not getting treatment
  • Not tracking your medical expenses
  • Not meeting deadlines
  • Being unprepared when speaking to the insurer
  • Agreeing that you’re any amount at fault
  • Giving up and accepting a lowball offer

Before you agree to anything, consult with an experienced attorney who is looking out for your best interests.

Forget About Averages and Seek Fair Compensation for Your Personal Injury

Don’t bother researching “average” personal injury settlement amounts you can find on the internet. Focus on your claim and seek what’s fair in your circumstances.

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we help clients seek as much compensation as possible, as quickly as possible. Our team includes lawyers and paralegals with “other side” experience working for insurance companies. That experience has helped us recover more than $1.6 billion in total compensation for more than 60,000 people since 1997. And counting.1

You can find many car accident settlement examples and other personal injury settlements and verdicts we achieved for clients on our results page.1

Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, workers' comp attorneys in North and South Carolina: 4.8 stars from 3K+ reviews.

 Average of all Google reviews from all office locations as of 2/7/23.1

A Professional Case Evaluation Costs You Nothing

Ready to tell them you mean business? Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online today to find out what your case may really be worth.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a lawsuit take?

A personal injury lawsuit – as opposed to a personal injury claim – may take months or even years to resolve. How long a lawsuit takes depends on the case but in general, court processes rarely move as fast as you’d like.

Does physical therapy increase my settlement?

Any treatment you undergo costs money, and if you or your health insurance policy are covering those bills, a fair settlement should reimburse you (or your insurer) for that cost. If you will need physical therapy in the future, the cost of that therapy should be projected and negotiated into your possible settlement offer, as well.

What if my medical bills are more than my settlement?

The idea of a “good” personal injury settlement is to obtain the compensation you need to cover your harms and losses, including your doctor and treatment bills. Projecting future medical needs is often a crucial part of negotiating settlement offers and should be factored into your potential settlement value, if needed.

Consult with an experienced attorney to help you try to calculate and collect every single dollar you may be owed.

About the Author

Kaitlyn Fudge practices personal injury, consumer protection, business litigation, class action, mass tort, product liability, and whistleblower claims law in both North Carolina and South Carolina for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. She received 18 different recognitions in law school, including the Jessie and Elizabeth Leonard Valedictorian Award. Kaitlyn has experience working at the Wake County Attorney’s Office and is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association.