Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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What You Should Know

  • A car accident settlement is the amount of money agreed upon that will compensate for the damages and injuries suffered
  • The average settlement value of a personal injury car accident case in the United States is around $19,000
  • Even in cases that are seemingly alike, settlement amounts can be vastly different because of details like age, employment, and the nature of the injury itself

Whether you lost control of your vehicle in a New England snowstorm or you collided with a distracted city driver in Los Angeles, car accidents happen. A lot. About six million times per year in the United States, to be specific.1 Then, think about all the time a personal injury lawyer spends with a car accident injury settlement and the time spent deciding who is going to pay for medical expenses or punitive damages. That is a lot of time spent on an average car accident settlement.  

While every accident happens a bit differently, almost all of them cause a similar feeling of stress, uncertainty, and frustration when it comes to managing the aftermath. From wondering “is a hit and run a felony,” to calculating the cost of medical bills or repair costs, navigating the cleanup can often be more painful than the collision itself. 

Do you have questions about what kinds of settlements you might be eligible for and how much you can expect to receive? How about how to calculate car accident settlement amounts? What happens if you total a leased car?

This article will hopefully take a bit of the guesswork out of that equation. Here’s a quick look at what you can expect to find below:

  • What is a Settlement? 
  • Settlement Amounts: Long Story Short 
  • The Role Liability Plays in Car Accident Settlements
  • Primary Factors that can Affect Your Settlement 
  • Next Steps

What is a Settlement?

If this is your first accident, you may be wondering exactly what an auto accident settlement is. That’s something you’ll certainly want to know before moving forward. In an article written by Console & Associates P.C., an accident injury law firm, a settlement is:

“An agreement to resolve a legal claim for damages. In the typical car accident settlement, the injured victim agrees not to sue for damages, or to end any lawsuit that has already been filed, in exchange for a payment from the party who has legal liability for the victim’s injuries.”2

In other words, to avoid going through a lengthy trial, a car accident settlement is the amount of money agreed upon that will compensate for the damages and injuries suffered. 

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Settlement Amounts: Long Story Short    

You probably came here looking for exact dollar amounts for a personal injury settlement. But the truth is, car accidents and personal injury settlements are complex, especially when a car accident attorney and personal injury law are involved with an automobile accident. No two are ever quite the same. So, if you want to know, down to the very penny, how much money you can expect to receive for the injury you suffered as a result of a car wreck back in December, you won’t find that here. 

Or anywhere, for that matter. 

We can tell you, however, that the average settlement value of a personal injury car accident case in the United States is around $19,000.3 So when it comes to car accident settlement averages, that’s an anchor you can use as a baseline. 

But in order to shape that number into something that’s a bit more case-specific, you’ll want to have a look into some of the factors listed below. 

But first, let’s talk liability. 

The Role Liability Plays in Car Accident Settlements  

After getting into an accident, your first thoughts probably look something like this:

Am I okay? Is everyone else that was involved okay?

Shortly after your initial survival instincts kick in, the next concern you’re likely to have is:

What the *expletive* just happened? And how?

To that end, determining liability is a must when it comes to predicting your car accident settlement value. Consider the below: 

Preoccupied Pam was sipping on a latte and checking her work email on her phone when she drifted into the other lane and hit you head-on. This one is on Pam, unequivocally, and it will likely result in a full settlement that covers your damages. 

In a multi-vehicle maelstrom, however, determining who is at fault can be challenging to pinpoint directly. Was it the person who had to stop short? Or the driver who was following too closely behind, perhaps? 

Generally speaking, if you were partially liable for the pileup, you can expect your settlement to be lower than if you were not. On the flip side, higher settlement amounts are often awarded to individuals who were strictly the of a bad car accident victim. 

Accident liability is not the only factor that can affect your payout, so let’s dive a bit deeper into some other important details to consider. 

Primary Factors that can Determine Your Settlement Amount

Determining how high or how low your settlement amount will be varies depending on the factors at play. Maybe you know someone who has experienced a similar fender bender or even suffered from a similar, accident-induced injury. 

Even in cases that are seemingly alike, settlement amounts can be vastly different because of details like age, employment, and the nature of the injury itself.  

To keep things simple, we’ll categorize these factors into two groups: economic damages and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages, essentially, are damages that can be directly linked to a dollar sign. These tend to be a bit easier to itemize and calculate. Some examples of economic damages include: 

  • Injuries Suffered – The severity of the injuries you suffered and the medical bills accrued because of them can be one of the most significant factors to determine your settlement amount. Because of the different costs associated with things like a minor sprain or a fractured collarbone, you’ll want to determine which of the two categories below are more closely linked to the one(s) you’ve been afflicted with. 

Hard Tissue Injuries: (broken or fractured bones, broken or fractured teeth)

Soft Tissue Injuries: (sprained ligaments, strained muscles or tendons, torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments)

  • Vehicle and Property Damage – After your accident, you’ll need to report the details of the vehicle damage to your insurer to determine the estimated costs of repair. Additionally, you can notify your insurance company of any personal property that was in your vehicle and damaged at the time of the accident. The extent of these damages will significantly impact the settlement amount.
  • Wages Lost – Let’s say that, as a result of the injuries endured from your accident, you were unable to work for a period of time. This economic loss will also be calculated into the total settlement that you are eligible for. 

Non-Economic Damages

Although a bit more challenging to quantify, non-economic damages should also be considered when making a claim. Some of these include:  

  • Emotional Anguish – Physical injuries are not the only ailments victims can suffer after an accident. The psychological distress caused by the trauma can last for weeks, months, or sometimes years.
  • Worsening Injuries – In some cases, accident-related injuries do not heal properly or, perhaps, even get worse over time. You might have had a pre-existing condition that was aggravated after the wreck. Although not part of your initial medical bills, this could become a financial burden over time and something that could play a role in increasing the amount of your settlement. 

Additional Factors

Aside from damages, there a couple more details that can affect the value of your settlement: 

  • Age and Employment – You may be eligible for a higher settlement amount depending on your age and employment. Middle-aged accident victims are often earning a higher income than someone who is retired or not yet a part of the workforce. As mentioned under the economic damages, wages lost or future wages lost can add to the value of your overall settlement. In this case, the higher the income, the higher the compensation.
  • Car Rental – Is your vehicle able to be driven after your accident? If you need to rent a car as a result of the damages done to your vehicle, this can also be factored into the amount of your total settlement. 

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What Are Your Next Steps? 

Wondering what to do after a minor car accident? Where do you go from here? Since car accidents are enough of a headache on their own, the cleanup should be about getting you the compensation you deserve. 

You’ve taken a step in the right direction already by reading this blog and informing yourself about how to maximize your return. Calculating the exact amount of your car accident settlement isn’t an easy task, as you can see. 

However, it’s essential to remember that settlement amounts and the efficiency with which they are paid are closely linked to the availability of insurance resources for the parties involved. 

4AutoInsuranceQuote, Helping You Cut Through The Noise 

Wondering “how much does insurance go up after an accident?” We have you covered. Whether you already have insurance or you’re looking to change your current coverage, you can start comparing rates for free with us here at 4AutoinsuranceQuote.com. Our car insurance quote tool makes comparing (and finding!) quotes a breeze. 

So, if you have an adverse experience with a crash-related settlement, we can help you find a policy that works in your favor. Regardless, the most important thing to remember is that settlement amounts are circumstantial, and they’re almost always influenced by who is at fault and the severity of the damages incurred.

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