After a car accident takes place, expenses start to pile up almost immediately. As such, it’s natural for most accident victims to start wondering about monetary compensation right away. Every claimant understandably wants to know how much they will get paid and when, and we commonly receive questions as to what the average settlement is for a car accident claim.
That’s a simple question to ask but a complicated one to answer–let’s take a closer look at some of the factors that go into settlements and whether or not there is an average settlement value.
The Typical Value of a Car Accident Claim
We hope we’re not disappointing you, but there really isn’t an average settlement value, as each accident and set of injuries is unique. Some people have come up with figures–for instance, the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association has said that the average settlement for a car accident is just over $15,000, however we typically refrain from making such estimates when speaking with clients, for multiple reasons.
Perhaps the first thing to consider is the jurisdiction in which the claim is being filed. All U.S. states are categorized as either no-fault states or at-fault states, and that makes a big difference with regards to settlements. Essentially, no-fault states require all accident claimants to go through their own insurer for compensation, whereas at-fault states allow drivers to recover damages from the liable driver’s insurer, even for minor injuries and property damage.
Because of this difference, there are a lot more accident settlements in at-fault states, and the average value of those settlements is lower because there are so many. This isn’t to say that one system is better than the other, however the two systems do operate differently, and it should be considered.
What Other Factors Impact an Accident Settlement?
Here are some of the other factors to consider when thinking about the value of an accident settlement:
- How severe were your injuries?— Medical expenses make up the bulk of most settlements. If you suffered severe or permanent injuries, your settlement will be much higher than it would be for minor injuries. Severe injuries also increase the chances of recovering additional compensation such as punitive damages or non-economic losses.
- What was your total financial loss?— Medical expenses are one thing, but there are a lot of other ways an accident can be affected financially, including lost wages and benefits and property damages. The larger your overall loss, the higher your settlement will be.
- What are the laws in your state regarding car accidents?— Aside from the no-fault/ at-fault distinction, there are numerous laws regarding car accidents for each state that will likely impact a claimant’s settlement. This is one reason why it is important to retain an attorney who is licensed to practice in your jurisdiction, so that they know exactly how to proceed with your claim.
- How clear is the liability for the accident?— Generally, the more “cut and dry” an accident is, the higher the settlement will be. In other words, if it is obvious that the other driver was solely responsible for the accident, you will likely recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you. However, if it is not entirely clear, or if you were partly at fault yourself, your settlement will likely be lower because of the lingering doubt.
- What kind of insurance coverage does the other driver have?— Auto insurance is mandatory in most states, but that does not mean that every driver carries more than minimum coverage. If you are looking to recover compensation from a driver with limited insurance coverage or none at all, you will likely only receive what their policy allows, which is likely not going to cover all of your damages, and you may have to utilize your own insurance.
What Constitutes a Fair Settlement Offer in a Car Accident Case?
At the end of the day, a fair settlement offer is simply one that fully encompasses a claimant’s physical and emotional damages. Whether it’s $5,000 for a minor fender-bender or $1 million for a wrongful death, an accident settlement should always be substantial enough to cover the expenses caused by the accident. Context is important as well–In certain cases, especially ones with extreme injuries or death, it may be more fitting to receive punitive damages or non-economic losses than it would be for a standard claim.
Questions About Accident Settlements? Contact Award-Winning Car Accident Attorneys
When you need help answering questions about a potential car accident settlement, simply call the award-winning team of car accident attorneys from Van Law Firm. We’ve worked tirelessly for the last ten years to defend the rights of motorists and all other accident victims. Call our office nearest you today to schedule a confidential, no-risk consultation and case review.