If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are considering legal action, you may be curious about typical car accident settlement amounts. However, it is quite difficult to assign an average settlement for a car accident. That’s because each accident is a unique event involving unique circumstances.
While data varies between sources and states, the Insurance Information Institute reported the 2021 national average for an auto claim involving bodily injury was $22,734, and the average property damage claim was $5,314 (this includes cases that went to trial, although less than 5% of cases go that far). Of course, there are many factors that will affect the amount of a car accident settlement, including the extent of any injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering. The best way to understand what damages you may be owed is to work with a qualified car accident attorney.
Since 1953, the dedicated experts at Ashcraft & Gerel have obtained more than a billion dollars in successful outcomes for our clients in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., including an $851,000 settlement for a car accident negligence case. No matter how small or large your case might be, call us today at (844) 680-0339 or request your free consultation online to get started.
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What Factors Affect Car Accident Settlement Amounts?
Several factors will play a key role when determining a car accident settlement amount. From the type of insurance you carry to the specific laws of your state, it’s important to understand how these factors can impact your car accident settlement payout.
Most states require drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance to compensate accident victims for damages. In Maryland, vehicle insurance must cover $30,000 for bodily injury ($60,000 for 2 or more people) and $15,000 for property damage. In Virginia, those minimums are currently the same for bodily injury (until they are raised in January 2025), but the minimum for property damage is $20,000. Those limits in Washington, D.C. are $25,000 for bodily injury ($50,000 for 2 or more people) and $10,000 for property damage.
These policy limits can have a big impact on your car accident settlement amount because insurance companies will only pay up to the required policy limits. You may be able to seek additional compensation by filing an underinsured driver claim with your own insurance (if you have the coverage on your policy) or by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, although they may not have the personal assets to make you whole. A qualified car accident attorney can help you investigate these options and determine if it’s worth pursuing additional damages or taking a proposed settlement.
The question at the center of many car accident settlements is “who is at fault?” Even when liability may seem clear, this point is frequently contested by insurance companies. When fault is unclear or difficult to determine, it may be harder to receive an adequate settlement.
Insurance companies in this situation are typically more motivated to offer a low settlement amount and/or take their chances with a jury. This is especially true in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., because their legal systems follow a doctrine of contributory negligence. That means if a driver is determined to be even 1% at fault for an accident (and the other driver is 99% responsible), they will face an up-hill battle receive compensation from the primarily at-fault driver.
Severity of Injuries
Typical car accident settlement amounts tend to grow larger in correlation with the severity of injuries caused in a given accident. Victims who suffer major spinal or brain injuries are likely to receive larger settlements than those who suffered a minor case of whiplash, for example, because the settlement is intended to cover medical expenses. In the same vein, victims who sustain permanent, life-altering disabilities, disfigurements, or other impairments may be able to seek compensation for future financial losses and chronic pain and suffering.
Your car accident settlement amount will also depend on where your accident took place. Every state has unique laws related to insurance coverage, traffic laws, and liability, and Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. each have some unusual wrinkles when compared to other states.
Maryland and Virginia are “at-fault” states, which means you can pursue a claim against another driver for causing a car accident. Furthermore, Maryland and Virginia follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, and these state laws can have a major impact on car accident settlement amounts. Unless you can prove the other driver is 100% at fault for your accident, and your actions played no role in the crash, you most likely cannot seek compensation from them.
Washington D.C. is a no-fault state, meaning that regardless of who’s at fault for an accident, each driver’s insurance company has to pay for their own policyholder’s medical expenses and specific damages. You will seek compensation from your own insurance provider instead of going after the other driver’s insurance. The aim of no-fault laws in Washington D.C. is to make it easier to get claims settled, reduce legal disputes, and ensure that accident victims get quick medical coverage.
Victims who suffer larger amounts of financial loss are likely to receive a larger car accident settlement offer than those who incurred minor financial losses. Financial loss includes medical expenses, the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, lost wages, and other expenses resulting from your car accident.
After an accident, we recommend you document any out-of-pocket expenses related to your car accident, such as in-home care, travel expenses for trips to and from your medical appointments, prescriptions, medical equipment, and more. You may be able to seek compensation for these expenses as well.
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How Are Car Accident Settlements Calculated?
Car accident settlement amounts are calculated by estimating the past, ongoing, and potential future damages/expenses you might incur, per the categories we discussed earlier on this page.
A good car accident attorney can help you determine a reasonable range for potential settlement amounts based on medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to your accident. That last category can be particularly challenging to determine, because car accidents can impact different people in a lot of different ways. It’s also important to put deep thought into potential future expenses, including expected medical care and the impact on your ability to work and earn income.
How Do Car Accident Settlement Payouts Work?
The majority of car accident claims are settled before they reach court. Once you’ve filed a claim with the insurance company and presented them with relevant evidence, your lawyer will typically submit a demand letter requesting compensation. If both sides agree about the liability and amount of damages owed, the insurance company may submit a car accident settlement payout.
You should work with your car accident attorney to determine if you should accept the offer or propose a counteroffer. Often, these negotiations will involve multiple rounds of offers and counteroffers. When you accept a car accident settlement payout, you will waive your right to sue for further damages. You will need to file a lawsuit if you can’t reach an agreement – but will still have the option to settle at any point before the court makes a ruling.
Ashcraft & Gerel Can Help Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement Payouts
When considering typical car accident settlement amounts, the most important thing to remember is that each accident will involve unique parties, circumstances, and other factors. Therefore, it’s hard to determine an average settlement for a car accident without consulting a qualified car accident lawyer.
At Ashcraft & Gerel, our team of dedicated car accident attorneys have obtained more than a billion dollars in results for our clients since 1953. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are looking for an attorney who will give your case the personalized care and attention it deserves, call us today at (844) 680-0339 or request your free consultation online to get started.
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