After you experience a car accident, you have every right to know what the likely value of your claim will be. One of the best ways to figure out what kind of settlement you can expect is to look at the average personal injury settlements of injured claimants.
Truthfully, the range of possible settlements varies greatly. Luckily, I can help you get a better idea of what you can expect! Certainly, the facts and circumstances regarding your injuries will impact the amount of settlement money that you can expect to receive.
That being said, let’s break down what you can expect!
The average amounts of personal injury settlements
Overall, the amount of personal injury settlements varies greatly. The value of your settlement depends on a number of factors that are specific to your case, and your case alone. In general, it would be fair to say that the nature and extent of the injuries, the level of negligence of the other party, state (Colorado) based guidelines and the quality of your legal representation are the main factors impacting what you would receive via a final monetary settlement.
A monetary settlement is a consensual agreement where affected parties agree upon an amount of compensation rather than risk a costly and somewhat uncertain court process. The amount of the settlement is underpinned by how both sides estimate the likelihood a court would make a determination and the expected case value, with a factor included for ease and predictability.
Typically, on the lower end of the scale, an injury case might settle for as little as a few thousand dollars. That being said, a large number of injury cases settle for much, much more! An average personal injury settlement amount is somewhere between $3,000 and $75,000! But, it all depends on the severity of your injuries and the negotiability of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not settle, then your only option is to begin litigation.
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle somewhere between the higher and lower end of the average settlements. Beyond that, there are also some pretty dramatic outliers. As you have probably heard, there are some people who get settlements worth millions of dollars. There are others who settle their car accident cases in the very beginning for say $1,000 or $2,000 dollars (without the help of an attorney).
The cases that do settle for amounts near $1 Million Dollars, typically involve seriously unique circumstances that involve either punitive damages or extraordinary damages. Your average personal injury or car accident settlement will not begin to approach $1 Million Dollars. This kind of settlement value is reserved for very serious cases that involve death, paralysis and/or complicated and very costly surgeries.
If you are seeking money damages, an experienced lawyer can help you determine where your case falls on the spectrum of typical personal injury settlements. For example, I have more than 22 years of experience negotiating car accident cases and will know the ballpark settlement value of your case when you have finished treatment. A settlement value should never be figured at the beginning of your case, but should be figured in a ballpark fashion when you have finished all medical treatment. Then, it also depends on the particular insurance company and their reputation for settling pre-suit or forcing your attorney to file a lawsuit.
Will my injury case settle for the average amount?
It is crucially important that you do not assume to know what the value of your injury claim is going to be. In the end, you might be pleasantly surprised by all of the different categories of damages that your lawyer might advocate. Of course, an experienced car accident lawyer cannot make your injuries more severe than what has occurred. So, if you have a minor soft-tissue injury to the neck (also known as “whiplash”), your case will more likely settle at the very low end of average settlement values. A “whiplash” case may settle for between $6,000-$25,000. It all depends on the facts, injuries and amount of all medical bills and liens incurred.
The best way to determine an anticipated value for an injury claim is to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer about your specific case. If any lawyer tells you a settlement value at the very beginning of your case, then that is a lawyer you need to stay away from. No lawyer can accurately predict settlement value in the very beginning. An experienced personal injury lawyer can give you a ballpark opinion when all of your treatment has been finished.
So, let’s go over some of the specific types of injury cases and what the average value of their related settlements may be.
What is the average settlement value for a car accident case?
When it comes to car accidents, the average settlement is anywhere from $3,000 to $75,000 with the exact average landing somewhere in the middle. Settlements (pre-suit) depend on a number of factors, such as the nature of your claim, the state you are in, and the quality of your attorney. Every car accident case is different and every person who sustains injuries in a car accident will have different injuries. Some injured claimants recover very quickly while others may not recover for years.
Estimates are exactly that – average settlements provide insight but need to be applied looking at the specifics of each individual case. The circumstances and specific injuries of a car accident case are unique and specific to itself. That’s why your case deserves to be looked at by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows the ins and outs of injury claims. There is no attorney’s fee charged to speak with me or any other specialist in personal injury cases. I never charge for any consultations, in-person visits or phone calls. I am also very happy to come to your house or place of business.
How can you determine the logistics of your personal injury settlement?
In order to determine the average value of a given personal injury settlement, you will find that the value of a money settlement is comprised of a number of different and important factors. These factors will include your economic damages such as medical bills and missed work, your pain and suffering which can be both physical and mental/emotional. Finally, one may be able to recover punitive damages (damages that punish the defendant for wrongdoing). It is much more difficult to recover punitive damages as the defendant must have committed an egregious act like drunk driving. Punitive damages, if awarded by a Jury, can greatly increase the overall compensation to an injured driver or passenger.
It’s important you consult with a car accident attorney before communicating with your own insurance company – you may be contractually required to notify them of the occurrence of an accident. It is best to limit the initial communication to the date, location and driver information without going into more detail than that. So, you do not need to talk about your injuries or liability until you first speak with your attorney.
It is important to realize and understand that when you take a look at the money settlements of other injury cases, you are looking at a total of the three aforementioned factors. If the victim in another case suffered high economic damages, that alone can significantly increase the overall value of a settlement claim. For example, I had a client who nearly lost his hand in an auto accident. He incurred almost $100,000 in the helicopter trip to the hospital, alone. His medical bills were more than $300,000. In this particular case, the economic damages will be very high.
The average personal injury settlement does depend on what the responsible party can pay
Another crucial factor for you to keep in mind is that the typical settlement heavily depends on the at-fault driver’s ability to pay for the value of your injuries or damages. Even if one side is 100 percent responsible for the accident and you have a high amount of damages as a result, the practical task of collecting a judgment can lower the average amount of the settlement.
Claims are possible against uninsured drivers but are much harder to actually recover a monetary settlement. Hopefully, you have Uninsured Motorist coverage which protects you from being injured by an uninsured driver. There are a lot of uninsured drivers out there so I always encourage my clients to purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage.
As an example, say that you have a claim worth $60,000. But, the at-fault driver has an insurance policy with a $50,000 limit. The at-fault driver has very little assets that can be gathered to pay for further damages. In this situation, most attorneys would recommend taking the $50,000 Bodily Injury limits in exchange for a full and final settlement. Most of the time, it is not worth pursuing the at-fault driver personally. Most cases do settle within the at-fault driver’s Bodily Injury policy limits.
In the example above, your case may be worth quite a bit more than the $50,000 BI limits. But, it is always very risky to pursue an individual in Court for excess damages. You need to consider this point when making settlement decisions. Your experienced accident lawyer will guide you through the process and will advise you on how to proceed in different situations. An experienced personal injury lawyer like myself has years of experience in dealing with policy limits settlements and the likelihood of obtaining more money in front of a Jury.
How do I know if my personal injury claim is an “average” claim?
Whether your injury claim is “average”, depends on three major factors. Again, these factors may include your economic damages, your pain and suffering multiplier and whether punitive damages are available in your case. I personally analyze all potential damages and advise my clients on the proper course of action to take in order to obtain a pre-suit or post-suit settlement.
There is a saying that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. In other words, settlements can take out the risk for all parties. The insurance company may settle pre-suit in order to avoid a higher possible jury verdict. An injured party may take less money pre-suit as he or she may not be willing to place his or her life in the hands of an unpredictable jury.
Sometimes the financial losses go hand in hand with the economic damages. At other times, the pain and suffering (non-economic damages) damages can exceed the amount of economic damages. Every case and injured person is unique, and when involved in an accident, an attorney needs to painstakingly figure out the potential damages from both an economic and non-economic standpoint. An attorney needs to negotiate with the insurance company in a way that adequately explains the need for both economic and non-economic damages. That way, your attorney will obtain the highest possible settlement or jury verdict.
How long does it take to get my personal injury settlement?
All cases are unique and while the actual processing of checks for a given case can take just a couple of weeks, legal proceedings can take a whole lot longer than that. A court case can last years and you may incur extra costs for expert witnesses, medical testimony, an accident reconstruction expert, economist, etc. All these experts cost money and that money may or may not be recovered at the end of a case.
If your case is settled pre-suit, then you will receive your money within a few weeks. However, if there are liens like Medicaid liens or health insurance liens, then your pre-suit settlement could take a few more months. It all depends on how fast your attorney can get the case liens resolved. Medicaid and Medicare can take up to 6 months to resolve their liens. In these situations, an injured driver or passenger needs to be patient with the process. Your attorney cannot speed up Medicaid or Medicare. These federal agencies have thousands of claims to deal with so you have to “wait in line”.
One great way to keep an eye on the timeline of your specific case is to keep in contact with your lawyer on a consistent basis. A good personal injury lawyer will anticipate your need for communication and outline a timeline of what will happen and when, and your involvement in the whole settlement process. I pride myself on communication with my clients. Most attorneys never even talk to their clients. They may have a paralegal or secretary communicate with you. I always personally speak to each and every one of my clients on a weekly basis, sometimes on a daily basis! I want to know how my client is feeling and will personally monitor the entire treatment process.
Contact Allen Accident Law
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car crash in Fort Collins, Loveland, or Northern Colorado, I will always fight for you and make sure you receive the settlement you are entitled to.
Get in touch or call me today at (970) 364-6830 to schedule your free consultation.