How Much Can I Expect to Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

How Much Can I Expect to Get from a Car Accident Settlement
How Much Can I Expect to Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

If you were in a car accident, you may wonder how much money you can get in a car accident settlement. The amount you can receive depends on many factors, so you need a thorough review of your case to determine how much you could get.

Did you sustain injuries, or only property damage? How severe are your injuries, and did you miss work because of them? Did the other driver have auto insurance? Did the accident involve a commercial vehicle or result from a component malfunction? Do you share any responsibility for the crash?

These are a few factors that can affect a car accident settlement, but others could apply as well. To get a better idea of the compensation you may receive from a settlement, you need an attorney to assess your claim and offer advice specific to your situation.

However, even an attorney probably can’t give you an exact figure. A lawyer cannot rely on a standardized settlement schedule to determine how much you could receive, and settlement amounts can vary widely from one case to the next.

Nevertheless, an attorney can offer an objective and realistic opinion based on their experience with similar cases, with the understanding that your settlement could vary from the initial assessment. You should understand factors that can affect your car accident settlement and what you can do to increase your chances of getting the maximum compensation possible.

Is There an Average Car Accident Settlement?

Since so many factors can influence a car accident settlement, there’s really no way to determine an average amount. How much you could get in a settlement depends on things such as the severity of the accident and your injuries, the available insurance coverage limits, and the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

However, the Insurance Information Institute reports that, on average, injury claims following a vehicle accident are around $20,235, with the average claim for property damage being more than $4,700. Keep in mind, though, that you could receive more or less depending on your circumstances. An attorney can carefully review your claim and help you determine the settlement you could receive, but there is no guarantee.

Factors That Influence a Car Accident Settlement

Some common factors that influence car accident settlements include:

Auto Insurance Coverage Limits

Auto insurance covers virtually all car accidents, and policies typically cover property damage as well as the costs of medical treatment for injuries people sustain because of the accident. In most cases, accident victims file injury claims with the help of an attorney, but all policies have limits that will affect how much money the insurance company will pay.

Most states require drivers to carry liability insurance on their vehicles, but the minimum limits are usually too low to cover the costs of severe or even moderate injuries.

For instance, Wisconsin requires drivers to have $10,000 in property damage coverage, $25,000 in coverage for injury or death to one person, and $50,000 for more than one.

Also, some states, like Minnesota and North Dakota, require no-fault insurance. No-fault states typically require drivers to maintain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to cover their own injuries regardeless of fault. Minnesota’s minimum requirement is $40,000 per person, per accident, and North Dakota’s is $30,000.

Minnesota’s minimum liability insurance requirements are $10,000 for property damage and $30,000 for injuries to one person or $60,000 for more than one. North Dakota’s minimum liability limits are $25,000 for property damage and $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for bodily injury.

All three states require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with at least $25,000 for injuries to one person/$50,000 for injuries to more than one.

If your property damage and injury costs exceed these limits, you will need to work with an attorney who can advise you on your options for getting the additional compensation you need and take the proper course of action.

The Severity of Your Injuries

The extent of your injuries will have a major impact on how much compensation you could receive in a settlement. Victims who suffer severe, debilitating injuries typically receive larger settlements than those who sustain minor or moderate injuries.

Some injuries that often lead to higher settlements include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe nerve damage
  • Chronic pain
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Amputation or dismemberment
  • Death

Regardless of the severity of your injuries, your attorney should address and negotiate all the adverse effects and costs associated with your injury, such as:

  • How long you were in the hospital
  • The length of your recovery time
  • Any physical or cognitive impairments that resulted from your injury
  • The amount of rehabilitation or therapy you will need

An important note: Do not rush to accept a settlement until you and your attorney fully assess and document the full extent of your injuries. Some injuries may not manifest right away or may worsen with time. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot pursue additional compensation, so you want to account for all you will need both now and in the future.

How Long You Were Out of Work

If your injuries prevented you from working, your attorney needs to address that as well and include the damages with your claim. This includes not only the time you missed immediately following the accident, but the time you spent going to doctor appointments and treatment or therapy. Your attorney also needs to account for the ongoing medical care you will require and how much time you will miss from work to receive treatment.

If your injuries result in a permanent disability and you cannot return to work at all or only in a limited capacity, your attorney needs to address this as well and seek damages for lost earning potential.

Who Caused the Accident

Liability is a major factor in determining how much you could receive in a car accident settlement. The party with primary responsibility for causing the crash will bear the most liability for injuries and damages. Since minimum auto insurance liability policies vary by state, the amount you could recover will vary depending on the state the other driver was from.

Additionally, the policy of a commercial driver, such as a truck driver or delivery driver, could have far higher policy limits.  The same holds true for Uber and Lyft drivers. Additionally, their employer’s auto policy may come into play.

If an intoxicated driver caused the crash, some states allow you to seek compensation from the bar, restaurant, or host that served them alcohol. If a defective component, such as a blown tire or faulty brakes, failed and contributed to the crash, you could hold the product’s manufacturer liable, in addition to those who installed the components or maintained the vehicle.

In some cases, product liability and third-party claims can lead to substantial settlements.

Comparative Fault

Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota all follow modified comparative negligence rules. This means you can recover damages if you contributed no more than 50 percent of the fault for the accident, but your damages will decrease by your percentage of fault. If the court finds you bear 51 percent or more of the fault, you cannot recover damages.

Work with an attorney during the injury claim and settlement process. Insurance companies are businesses and do not like paying on claims since it hurts their profits. Therefore, they often use defense tactics to unduly blame victims to deny claims or reduce the amount they have to pay. A lawyer will know how to combat these tactics and hold the other driver primarily responsible for the crash so you can get the money you deserve.

Other factors can influence your car accident settlement as well, such as the laws of your state and whether the state caps damages.

Having an Attorney is Vital to Get the Best Settlement Possible

A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can greatly improve your chances of getting a better car accident settlement. A lawyer will understand all applicable laws along with the tactics the insurance company may use to deny liability. An attorney can negotiate to get the maximum settlement possible, and they can pursue other avenues for obtaining compensation, such as filing a personal injury lawsuit in court and representing you at trial, if necessary.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

Russell Nicolet - Attorney for Side-by-Side ATVs in Wisconsin & Minnesota
Russell Nicolet, Car Accident Lawyer

Look for a personal injury attorney with decades of experience negotiating substantial settlements with insurance companies for clients and who has recovered millions of dollars for car accident victims and their families. In addition, you need a lawyer who will fight for you in court if necessary. Contact a car accident lawyer today for your free consultation.