Accidents involving motor vehicles can have serious consequences and have a significant impact on the lives of those involved. From costly medical bills to lost wages due to injury or disability—the financial impact of these tragic events cannot be understated. As a result, many injured individuals choose to seek compensation through car accident settlements.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and are wondering how much money may be available from your coming personal injury settlement, the simple answer is it varies. Some law firms suggest that the average car accident settlement in the United States ranges from $10,000 to $100,000. However, there are cases that have settled in the millions.
Let’s highlight the factors that influence insurance settlement amounts and the financial assistance available for car accident victims.
Breakdown of the factors that impact a car accident settlement
The severity of the accident and injuries.
The first factor that impacts how much you may receive in an insurance settlement is the severity of your injuries. These injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to more serious, life-altering injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and paralysis.
Victims with minor injuries like whiplash or cuts may receive a few thousand dollars, while those with severe or permanent injuries may receive settlement amounts higher than the typical range of $10,000 to $100,000.
Severe injuries, such as catastrophic injuries, can result in lasting disabilities or disfigurement, while the wrongful death of a loved one can have an immeasurable impact on family members. If the deceased was the primary income earner, this loss could leave families struggling financially, with some wrongful death settlements reaching millions of dollars.
Punitive damages are a form of compensation for injured plaintiffs in addition to other types of damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. These damages are designed to punish the at-fault party for their careless or reckless behavior that led to the accident. Punitive damages are usually much larger than compensatory damages, as they can be awarded to victims even if they have not suffered any economic losses.
The geographical location of the accident.
The geographical location of the accident can also affect an accident settlement because certain states have laws that limit the amount of money you can receive for pain and suffering. For instance, some states have what’s called “tort reform” laws in place to limit punitive damages awards. Tort reform laws dictate that victims must be able to prove their case in order to receive monetary compensation. In other states, there may be no tort reform in effect, and victims can receive punitive damages regardless of the severity of their injuries.
The amount of fault attributed to each party involved in the crash.
The fault or liability allocated to each party is determined according to various state laws, such as comparative negligence, contributory negligence, and joint and several liabilities.
Under comparative negligence laws, any compensation available is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to the victim. In other words, if a victim is found to be 20% at fault for the accident, then their total compensation would be reduced by 20%.
Under contributory negligence laws, victims are barred from receiving any compensation if they are found to be at fault. Joint and several liability laws, on the other hand, allow victims to recover full damages from the defendant.
The available insurance coverage.
Depending on the at-fault party’s insurance policy, as well as any applicable tort reform laws in the jurisdiction where the accident took place, victims may or may not be able to receive the full amount of monetary compensation they are entitled to.
For example, if the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance or no insurance, it could result in limited compensation for the damages caused by the crash. This could leave victims struggling to cover medical bills and other costs out of pocket.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
In some cases, you could recover the full amount of damages by filing a claim with your own insurance company. This is because most car accident policies have provisions that cover uninsured and underinsured motorists, which helps you file a claim against your own policy if necessary. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage simply helps ensure that victims receive compensation for their injuries and property damage regardless of whether or not there is sufficient insurance available through another party’s policy limits.
In addition to the above factors, the amount of property damage that you sustained in a car accident can also affect the level of compensation you will get. The cost to repair or replacement can be significant and is usually factored into the settlement or court award.
Future medical treatment.
Any surgeries or procedures that will be required in the future are also factored into settlement amounts. For instance, your past medical history can come into the equation if it is determined that you would need more extensive treatments later on than someone with no pre-existing conditions.
Your age, occupation, current medical condition, and degree of disability due to the accident could all impact the amount of settlement you could potentially obtain.
What are the highest car accident settlements in the US?
The highest car accident settlement amounts in the US can vary greatly, as they depend on a wide range of factors, as we mentioned, specific to each case. In some cases, settlements can reach millions of dollars, but this is generally only in cases where the injuries sustained are severe and long-lasting.
For example, in 2022, the relatives of a woman who was killed in California were awarded $18 million in a car accident settlement after she was hit by a Lamborghini while driving home. In another case, a woman in New York obtained a $71 million verdict after a car crash, which left her with a permanent medical condition.
But keep in mind, of course, that these types of high-dollar settlements are relatively rare and involve serious injuries or death.
Bottom line: there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much the average car accident settlement is. Nonetheless, there are some factors that can help you understand what your settlement might look like, such as the severity of your accident, the amount of fault attributed to each party involved, available insurance coverage, property damage, future medical treatment, and even the state in which the accident took place.
Some car accidents within the United States have had incredibly high settlements on record, including a $7 million settlement for a person who suffered brain trauma due to a faulty seat belt in a car crash and a $41.6 million settlement after injuries sustained in an accident involving two semitrailer trucks.
If you are involved in a car accident lawsuit, and it seems impossible to get your finances back on track, pre-settlement funding can ease the financial strain. Consider a reputable funding company, such as Baker Street Funding, to help you get financial assistance after your car accident. All advances on pending lawsuits are non-recourse. That means that you only repay us if you win your case.