how much to expect from a car accident settlement

How Much to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement

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In the midst of hospital bills, insurance claims, and scrambling to find a new vehicle or repair the one that was damaged, you probably feel like you’re drowning rather than crashing. Finances are a bear when you’ve got a stack of paperwork you don’t understand; you’re signing and initialing the highlighted lines and hoping your lawyer was on his top game for your car accident settlement. As daunting as the situation seems as a whole, if you take a moment to step back and examine the matter a little more slowly, you can find some clarity and know just how much you deserve after your accident.

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Average Auto Accident Settlement Amounts

It is difficult to determine average settlements, as each case is unique. However, this is a basic guideline to expect, based on various circumstances.

  • $10,000 to $25,000 for minor injuries (soft tissue damage or whiplash)
  • $50,000 to $75,000 for long-lasting injuries that require surgery or physical therapy
  • $75,000 to $100,000 for spinal injuries (not resulting in paralysis)
  • $100,000 and $250,000 for brain injuries (cognitive impairment, loss of brain function, requiring surgery)
  • For debilitating injuries such as paralysis or severe brain injuries requiring daily assistance, settlements can cost well into the hundred-thousands or millions

Unfortunately, some insurance policies have limits. While the other driver may have had insurance, their company may not compensate the full amount you are due because of their limit. They will give you as much as they can to a point. If your settlement should be worth $20,000 but they will only give up to $10,000, that may be all you’re granted. You would have to sue the other person directly for the other portion of your due settlement.

Related: Do I Have to Fix My Car With My Insurance Payout?

Factors That Affect How Much Your Car Accident Settlement Is Worth

The settlement amount you receive for your car accident could vary based on several factors. Depending on what or who has been harmed in the accident, the damage solely to the car, if you sustained physical injuries, or if you experienced further pain and suffering after the immediate event, you could either receive a settlement that only covers the cost of your vehicle’s damage or you could be granted a higher settlement due to long-lasting injuries and/or compensation for the time you could not work due to your recovery.

How Much Do You Get for Whiplash?

Whiplash is the most common injury sustained in car accidents. However, due to the nature of whiplash injuries (their delayed symptoms and the difficulty in documenting them), making your claim could be tricky. To be sure you receive your due settlement, you must document your symptoms to the best of your abilities before preparing to sue. Your lawyer will provide the best advice when pursuing the matter.

As mentioned, whiplash falls under a ‘minor injury,’ with the average settlement amounting between $10,000 and $25,000. Realistically, for moderate cases of whiplash, the range is between $2,500 and $10,000. In more severe cases, typically if the injuries require ongoing treatment such as physical therapy, the cost may be as high as $30,000.

How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering involves the emotional distress brought on after you’ve been injured in an accident. Several facets of distress fall under the pain and suffering umbrella:

  • Physical pain, both temporary and long-lasting
  • Emotional and psychological disorders (depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.)
  • Physical limitations (disabilities)

Calculating pain and suffering can be done through several means. The simplest option: Total your bills, between medical expenses, therapy bills, lost wages, and vehicle damage. These are considered Special Damages. However, this is not the only method you can use, as those bills are separate from your personal pain and suffering, which are General Damages.

To accurately calculate your pain and suffering, you must determine what category your pain and suffering falls under: Current pain and suffering, or current and future pain and suffering. The first includes your pain and suffering until the conclusion of your medical treatment. The second extends into the foreseeable future. As would be expected, your claim will be higher for current and future pain and suffering.

Lawyers and insurance adjusters calculate your pain and suffering by using the multiple method. In this case, they take your Special Damages and multiply it anywhere from 1 to 5 times, depending on the seriousness of your case. In a case involving whiplash, your multiplier may fall between 1 and 3. With broken bones, the multiplier would be 3 to 5. Severe injuries like brain damage warrant a multiplier of 5 or even higher.

Getting the Highest Car Accident Settlement Possible

To assure the highest claim possible, documentation is crucial. Journal about your injuries and discomfort, or see a therapist to record psychological effects. Any receipts or personal testimony from friends and family corroborating your claims of discomfort will buffer your claim.

Related: 7 Extremely Import Steps to Take After Being in a Car Accident

Settlement claims are not easy. Each case is different, so lawyers and insurance adjusters must examine each aspect of your accident to calculate your specific claim. Prepare yourself for a few setbacks, but if you keep diligent records, you won’t face nearly as much trouble as what put you in that situation.