- March 11, 2019
- Categories: Vehicle Accidents
A common question our Southern California personal injury attorneys hear is: How much is the average settlement for a car accident? Filing a claim or lawsuit will often go more smoothly if you have a better idea of what the typical settlement is for a car accident. Each California car accident is different, but it still is possible to get a general idea of what the car accident case may be worth. Talk to Neale & Fhima car accident attorneys today if you have questions about your possible settlement amount.
How a Car Accident Settlement Is Determined
Despite what you hear, the auto insurance industry does not have a precise formula to determine what your car accident settlement should be. If you had only property damage, you will often be reimbursed based upon your policy’s limits.
Compensation for pain and suffering is provided only if you suffered injuries. That is why it is critical to have a medical evaluation right away, even if you think you have no injuries at all.
Some car accidents have injuries that do not become clear until several days after the accident. Whiplash often does not present itself immediately after the accident. If you negotiate the car accident settlement too fast or you delay getting medical care, your compensation could be less.
What to Expect from the Average Settlement for a Car Accident
Car accident data from across the U.S. over the years shows that the typical car accident settlement is between $14,000 and roughly $28,000. So, the average is approximately $21,000. But the average value for more serious crashes is about $31,000.
Another possible guide for determining how much the average car settlement is to multiply your medical bills, auto repairs and lost earnings by a factor of three.
For instance, say that you hurt your back in a car crash and had to pay $5,000 in medical costs. You lost a week of work, and you thus lost income of $2,000. So, in this situation, your average settlement for your car accident would come out to $21,000.
But if you file a personal injury claim with the insurance policy the other driver has, you will be limited by the maximum on that policy. For instance, if you have $30,000 in car accident damages and injuries, but the limit of their insurance policy is $20,000, you may be required to sue the driver outside the auto policy to recover the rest of the money. But another option is to file a claim with your personal auto insurance policy if your policy has uninsured or underinsured driver coverage.
The Insurance Adjuster Could Use an Accident Multiplier
Some insurance companies, despite there not being a set and fixed formula, still will use a multiplier with your special damages, which usually are medical costs, lost earnings and property damages.
The reason they use a multiplier on your special damages is to get an average or rough idea of what your total claim may be worth. But remember that this number is just an estimate. In the evaluation of any personal injury lawsuit, this will only be a starting point for negotiation. It is not the absolute last say about what your claim will be worth.
Many insurance adjusters will use a common multiplier of two or three to get an average car accident settlement figure. If we apply this, let us assume your medical costs and lost earnings from the auto accident were $10,000. If the adjuster were to multiply this number by two, you would have a claim worth $20,000. But if your injuries are more serious, the adjuster may use a value of three, which would make your claim worth $30,000.
If you are wondering why your settlement amount could be determined by a multiplier, it is a very good question. What the insurance company is attempting to do is to estimate what a potential jury could award if the case went to trial and a verdict was obtained.
The information that the insurance companies have on the behavior of juries is that a lower number on medical bills will result in a lower settlement determined by the jury, and a higher amount of medical bills will result in a higher settlement amount. So if your injuries are minor, the insurance company may use a multiplier of 1.5 or 2. But if the injuries are more serious, it is possible a multiplier of three and up to five could be used.
Other Settlement Factors
Some of the other factors that may influence the average settlement for your car accident are:
- Was the injury you suffered due only to your car accident? Or was there an underlying condition that was aggravated by the crash?
- Did you get medical help immediately after the accident? Or did you only complain to your doctor about the injuries a week after the accident?
- Did you, in the eyes of the insurance company, receive treatment that was excessive in any way? Insurance companies will not usually provide full reimbursement for certain areas of medical care, such as treatment by chiropractors or physical therapists, if they think the amount of time that you received these treatments was too long.
Have You Been in a Car Accident? Talk to a Southern California Personal Injury Lawyer Now.
If you were hurt in a car accident due to the negligence of the other driver, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. The amount of your settlement will vary, based on many factors, including the severity of your injuries and whether you had any responsibility for the accident. Note that even if the insurance company offers you a settlement, you do not have to accept it. You still have a chance to get what you think you deserve by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Whatever the situation, car accident attorneys Neale & Fhima will work to get you as much as possible for your car accident settlement or lawsuit. Please contact our law offices today, serving Southern California, for a free consultation.