What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?

May 1, 2024 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?

After a crash-related injury, when you are wondering how much you might receive in compensation for your losses, you might naturally consider what the average car accident settlement might be. Unfortunately, this question is rarely helpful, as each car accident claim is different with a wide range of settlement possibilities.

It is also difficult to say what the average car accident settlement is because such information is not readily available to the public. In other words, there is no single database on which every insurance settlement or jury award is published, so it is not possible to say (with any certainty) what the average settlement is worth.

Car accident victims should not be concerned with the average settlement. Instead, they should be concerned about maximizing their own settlement. A car accident lawyer will evaluate all of your accident-related damages and fight for compensation covering those damages.

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There Will Be Nothing “Average” About Your Car Accident Settlement

There is no average car accident settlement because every case is different and multiple factors influence the final settlement amount.

While it’s fair to wonder about the average settlement for car accident victims, your lawyer will not be in the business of “average.” Rather, your attorney will be focused on the exact financial cost of your damages, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

As your lawyer determines the value of your accident-related damages, they will weigh:

Your Specific Injuries

Car accidents cause many types of injuries, including but not limited to:

Injuries will be one of the most influential determinants in the cost of your settlement. You may have multiple accident-related injuries, and your lawyer will account for the cost and toll of each of them.

The Psychological and Emotional Toll of Your Car Accident

Car accidents are known to cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in many victims. This is one of many types of pain and suffering you might experience.

The details and severity of your pain and suffering will be another key consideration in the value of your car accident case. Your attorney may consult multiple mental health experts, as well as you, to determine the nature and cost of your pain and suffering.

The Extent of Damage to Your Vehicle

When injuries happen, the cost of medical care, pain and suffering, and other damages can overshadow vehicle costs. However, repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle can cost thousands of dollars.

Your car accident settlement will include the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle (and other damaged property).

The Details of Your Professional Life (and How the Accident Affects It)

Professional damages are a common feature of car accident cases, and the cost of those damages may depend on:

  • How much money you make
  • The physical and cognitive demands of your job
  • The extent to which your injuries interfere with your work
  • The duration for which your injuries (which can include mental health conditions) interfere with your work

If you work, you need and deserve the money you earn from your job. If you lose this income because of a car accident, you need to receive fair compensation from liable parties.

How Do I Calculate the Cost of My Car Accident?

Factors impacting car accident settlements include medical treatment, severity of injuries, impact on quality of life, potential disability, loss of income, etc.

You don’t have to calculate the cost of your car accident—a lawyer will. It can be quite difficult for you to try and accurately determine your case value (due to any inexperience you have with car accident cases).

Your lawyer will calculate the cost of all damages resulting from your car accident, including:

  • Economic damages: Car accidents can cause high-cost economic damages, including medical bills, lost income, and vehicle repair costs. These damages have a strictly financial component, and attorneys can generally trace their costs straightforwardly by the numbers.
  • Non-economic damages: You may also have non-economic damages that are just as important as economic damages, but do not have such an obvious financial cost. Pain and suffering is the prime example of non-economic damages among car accident victims.
  • Both present and future damages: Lawyers must consider whether their client will suffer damages in the future. If you are disabled or have ongoing damages, your attorney will project the cost of future damages when it comes time to resolve your case. This calculation will be conservative so that you won’t have to pay any out-of-pocket cost for others’ negligence, while the future can be unpredictable.

Attorneys generally calculate clients’ accident-related damages by:

  • Totaling existing damages (like medical bills and vehicle repair expenses)
  • Working with experts to calculate future damages
  • Using legally-acceptable methods, including the per-diem and multiplier methods, to calculate pain and suffering 

Lawyers’ ability to accurately calculate accident-related damages is one reason why the majority of civil cases settle. Your lawyer won’t make an educated guess about the cost of your case. They will have a precise, fact-based demand and stand firm behind it.

Damages Your Attorney Will Include in Their Settlement Demands

Calculating Damages in a Car Accident Injury Claim - Riddle & Brantley

Every car accident produces different damages for the victim. The nature of your injuries and other factors will affect your case value, but some common damages among car accident victims are:

Medical Expenses

Accident victims must seek medical attention whether or not they’re suffering injury symptoms. Seeing a doctor will help the victim determine if they have injuries, receive a treatment plan, and recover as soon as possible.

Receiving medical attention will also detail the consequences of the car accident. As necessary as medical attention is, healthcare is far from free. Your car accident lawyer will demand fair compensation from liable parties for the cost of accident-related medical services.

Pain and Suffering

Riddle & Brantley Car Accident Lawyers in North Carolina - Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

Motor vehicle accidents cause physical injuries but can also cause harm not visible to the human eye. Victims of serious accidents know that collisions and injuries can cause or worsen:

Injuries can also prevent accident victims from exercising, socializing, and living a full life. Attorneys know how to calculate the cost of such non-economic damages, generally known as pain and suffering.

Lost Income and Other Professional Damages

Injuries often cause professional interruptions, which may be short-term, long-term, or permanent. Some professional damages car accident lawyers often see in clients are:

  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Lost bonus, promotion, and overtime opportunities
  • Lost benefits

When evaluating professional damages, attorneys consider their clients’ jobs, salaries, and other professional circumstances. This familiarity is necessary if you are going to receive the compensation you deserve.

Vehicle Repairs

If you have been in a car accident, your car likely needs repair. If yours was totaled, you may even need a new vehicle. Your lawyer will consult an auto repair technician to determine whether your car is salvageable and how much repair or replacement will cost.

Additional Property Expenses

If your clothing, jewelry, phone, or other property is damaged during a car accident, your lawyer will determine the cost of replacing it.

A Disability

Disabling injuries are long-term by nature. A disability can also have a more destructive effect on the victim financially, psychologically, and otherwise. Though every injury demands a fair financial recovery, a disabling injury may require:

  • The purchase of costly medical equipment
  • In-home caregiver services
  • The long-term or permanent replacement of the victim’s income
  • Changes to one’s home to accommodate their disability
  • Long-term rehab

Disabilities can cause pain and suffering beyond what other injuries may cause. Attorneys evaluate each client individually to ensure they accurately assess every damage, including those related to disabilities.

A Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one is an immensely tragic outcome of car accidents. Many car accident lawyers handle both non-fatal and fatal collision cases. Those touched by fatal car accidents often deserve compensation for:

  • Loss of spousal companionship
  • Loss of the decedent’s income and other types of financial support
  • Loss of the decedent’s household services, such as labor and accounting services
  • Pain and suffering, of which grief may be the most prominent type
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial or cremation costs

Whether you need to recover physically or are mourning the loss of a loved one, allow a lawyer to take your case off your hands.

The more serious a car accident victim’s injuries are, the more costly their case is likely to be. However, you should never assume an injury is too minor to hire a lawyer. Attorneys pride themselves on getting justice for every car accident victim, and no injury is too small.

How Your Car Accident Lawyer Will Fight for a Fair Settlement (or Judgment)

Your lawyer will take a systematic approach to your case. This detail-oriented method will ensure that no piece of evidence, witness account, or deadline falls by the wayside.

Expect your legal team to lead your case from start to finish, including by:

Protecting Your Rights from the Outset

Your lawyer will fight for your financial recovery, but protecting you may be their first order of business. Attorneys protect their clients (and their cases) by:

  • Handling as much of the insurance process as possible
  • Always being available to answer clients’ questions
  • Alerting clients to potential pitfalls that can compromise their case (like suggesting to their insurance company that they caused their accident)
  • Advising clients when they have received a lowball settlement offer

Each case is different, and every car accident victim faces challenges and hazards. Your lawyer will tailor their services to your case and protect you from case-related threats as they arise.

Securing Relevant Evidence as Soon as Possible

Evidence of negligence is a key component of successful car accident cases and may include:

  • Witness testimony detailing the car accident
  • Video footage showing how a motorist caused a car accident
  • A police report (which may contain admissions of fault by liable parties)
  • An expert’s reconstruction of the accident

The more evidence of liable parties’ negligence your lawyer gathers, the stronger your case may be. Because some types of evidence are not available indefinitely (video footage gets erased, for instance), you need to hire your lawyer as soon as possible.

Documenting Damages from Your Car Accident

Your legal team will need to prove the cost of your car accident and may do so using the following:

  • X-rays and other medical images
  • Doctors’ notes and diagnoses
  • Medical bills
  • Mental health experts’ testimony about your psychological and emotional symptoms from the accident
  • Invoices for repairing or replacing your vehicle

If you’ve lost income, your attorney may also pull past pay stubs or bank statements to prove exactly how much income you have lost because of the car accident.

Pinpointing a Precise Case Value

Your lawyer will consider all of your damages and pinpoint a case value. This figure will include any damages you are going to experience in the future, such as pain and suffering resulting from a disability.

Negotiating Tirelessly for a Fair Settlement

Lawyers are not satisfied unless their clients receive all the compensation they deserve. Negotiating a settlement is the first opportunity for lawyers to deliver fair compensation to their clients.

Your lawyer will organize all relevant evidence and documentation as they prepare to negotiate. An effective lawyer will not be swayed by bad-faith tactics or lowball settlements from insurers. Instead, your attorney will fight persistently for the settlement you deserve.

Advising You About Whether to File a Lawsuit

If liable parties do not offer the settlement you deserve, your attorney will:

  • Explain why settlement offers are unfair
  • Answer any questions you have about the settlement
  • Discuss the potential benefits of filing a lawsuit
  • Draft and file any lawsuit you choose to pursue

If you choose to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will oversee the legal process. They can continue seeking a settlement but may ultimately represent you in court.

Can I Afford a Car Accident Lawyer?

You can afford to hire a car accident lawyer because of contingency fees. These are no-risk arrangements in which the law firm covers all expenses. Your lawyer will only get a fee if they negotiate a settlement or win a judgment for you.

Hire your North Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as possible, as missing your case’s filing deadline can have severe financial ramifications.