How Much To Expect From A Car Accident Settlement?

Car Accident

November 16  

How Much To Expect From A Car Accident Setttlement?

how much to expect from a car accident settlement

Car Accident Settlements: How Much Money Can You Get From A Car Accident Settlement?

If you've been involved in a car crash, you're probably worried about your medical bills, your lost wages, and getting your car repaired. You're probably also worried about your physical health. Will you have these physical injuries forever or will they go away?

Car crashes happen when we least expect them. But even if that's the case, knowing about the average car accident settlement will help your stress levels if you get hurt.

Car accident settlements are intended to pay your medical bills, reimburse you for lost wages, and also compensate you for the pain and suffering and disability of your physical injuries. The settlement money is also intended to compensate you for the inconvenience and psychological trauma that goes along with serious physical injury.

Let's not forget property damage. If your car is damaged, a car accident settlement includes amounts to pay that as well.

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Who Pays the Average Auto Accident Settlement?

The answer to that question is that insurance companies usually do. In Illinois, auto insurance is the law. It is mandatory. So most drivers do have auto insurance.

The claims process works like this: if you're in a crash, one of the first things my office does is to get your police report. That's because we want to know who the other driver is, and who their insurance company is.

Illinois law allows us to request the other drivers insurance policy limits. They have 28 days to tell us how much insurance coverage they have. This way, we will know whether the insurance policy is high enough to cover you for your injuries that you got in the car accident.

The first thing we have to prove is that the other driver was negligent. If the other driver didn't cause the crash, their insurance will not pay.

The second thing we have to prove is how bad your injuries are and the amount of your bills. Obviously, the higher your bills and the more serious your injuries, the higher settlement value your car crash case has.

how much to expect from a car accident settlement

Should You See A Doctor After A Car Accident?

The answer to this is: Definitely Yes.

It is very common after a car crash for an injured person to feel nothing, or feel aches and pains in the evening after the crash. But over the course of the next several days, the pain can continue to get worse and worse.  Pain, stiffness, increased pain on movement, and limited range of motion are all problems that people feel after they've been in a car accident.

Lots of people like to "tough it out"Most people I know go into that category.

So we don't run to the doctor from the first little ache and pain we have. We wait until we know that the pain isn't going away and gets more serious.

Word of warning though. Delaying too long to see a doctor after a crash can really affect how much to expect from a car accident settlement.

That's because insurance companies and defense lawyers will argue to a jury that a delay in medical care means that you weren't really hurt. They will argue that you are exaggerating your pain and didn't really need to go to the doctor in order to get a settlement amount that is larger than the average car accident settlement.

Going to the doctor right away after a car accident is a smart move. Worst case scenario, you get checked out and get a clean bill of health. But it is also true that the earlier a doctor catches a medical problem, the faster they can hear it and the quicker your life returns back to normal.

"Should I call a lawyer for my car crash?" 

Consulting with a car accident lawyer is the best thing you can do to ensure that your compensation is reasonable and definitely more than an unrepresented person would get. An auto accident lawyer basically puts the case on autopilot for you.

Your car accident lawyer handles all the details, such as ordering your medical records, talking to the insurance company, and even haggling about how much to expect from a car accident settlement. Obviously, your lawyer is going to want to put as much money in your pocket as possible.

When we're talking about things like medical bills or lost wages or even the amount it will take to fix your car, those are easy to determine. That's because hospitals give bills, and auto repair facilities give estimates for repair.

Even calculating lost wages isn't that hard. You take the hourly rate and multiply it times the number of hours missed from work. Simple, right?

But just because you have incurred those losses and damages after a car crash doesn't mean that the insurance company will pay them voluntarily.

The insurance company's job is to settle your case for as little as possible. That includes getting out of the case with paying you nothing if they can.

That's because insurance companies are for-profit companies. Insurance adjusters try many dirty tricks to defeat cases or get injured people to accept far less than the average car accident settlement and far less than they usually deserve.

You will have some responsibilities if you hire a lawyer, however.

Your lawyer will want to communicate with you to get information from you about where you went to the doctor. Your lawyer will also need to know what parts of your body got hurt, and whether you have photos of the car accident. We also need to know your insurance information for a variety of reasons.

If you provide your car accident lawyer with the information they request, it allows your lawyer to do research and work on the case. That research means your lawyer can put your case together to maximize your settlement and put your mind at ease when you're wondering "how much can I expect from a car accident settlement?"

But here's some good news. Most cases settle. I

In my office, for example, up to approximately 90% of our cases settle before we ever have to file a lawsuit. The is far above the industry average of around 70-80%.

That means you get your money faster and you put more money in your pocket because we didn't have to spend a lot of money filing a lawsuit and hiring a doctor to testify in your case.

how much to expect from a car accident settlement
What Kind of Settlement Should I Expect From A Car Accident?

An old-fashioned guideline for determining the amount of what you can expect from a car accident settlement is that the case should settle for about three times the medical bills. That's a rule of thumb from a long time ago when insurance companies didn't investigate cases very carefully.

Injury cases are much harder now.

The truth is that these days, a lot more facts go into figuring out whether a case can settle or not. It really does take the knowledge skill and experience of an excellent car accident lawyer to be able to tell you how much to expect from a car accident settlement. More important, a good lawyer can take your case and double or triple or quadruple what you would get on your own.

In court, the Judge and Jury have to take into account the type of injury the kind of treatment you had, how long you were in medical treatment, how much your wage losses are, and how big the crash was. This is only a partial list of factors that people take into account when attempting to figure out the value of a car crash settlement.

In order to settle the case before filing a lawsuit, we have to deal with an insurance company. Insurance companies want everything in writing and everything documented.

Believe it or not getting all these medical records ordered and complete and organized from hospitals doctors and other medical facilities is a lot of work. But we are pros at it and we do a great job.

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How are the amounts of car accident settlements calculated? 

That said, there are no hard and fast rules to tell you exactly the settlement amount of your case. The amount of your case varies by several factors. Each case is different because each injured person is different and every injury is different.

If you sustained no injuries, and there is only property damage to your car, the insurance company will probably want photos of your car damage and they will often ask you to take your car to their facility to be inspected. Or, they might sent an insurance adjuster out to your home to look at the car.

When there are physical injuries associated with car accident, you're allowed to collect pain-and-suffering compensation. A lot of people think that pain-and-suffering is just established by what the injured person says. But the best evidence of pain-and-suffering is when medical records document complaints of pain, and witnesses from your personal life are willing to come forward and describe the effect of the injuries on your life and what they observed.

Delays in medical treatment reduce the value of cases. That's the case because insurance companies know that they can argue that you were perhaps not hurt and you are only going to the doctor for purposes of earning money in a lawsuit. A ridiculous argument, but one that works, unfortunately.

To get some idea of what your case might be worth, add up your medical bills, your lost wages, and then take into consideration whether you were at fault for the crash at all.

In the State of Illinois, if you are more than 50% responsible for the crash, you're not allowed to recover any money for your injuries.

And if you are between 1% and 50% responsible, the amount of your damages is reduced by that percentage fault.


So for example, if a jury says that you are 25% responsible for the crash, and your total damages are $100,000, you can only recover $75,000.

If the jury believes that you are 51% responsible for the crash, and the other driver is 49% responsible, you can't recover any money at all.

General Guidelines
  • For minor injuries, they often settle for 1 to 2 times the medical bills.
  • For more serious injuries, your case could settle for 10 times or more of the medical bills.
  • But in most cases, it is likely that your case will settle for somewhere between 1 1/2 to 4 times your medical bills.


So for example, if your medical bills are $10,000, your case might settle for somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000-$40,000. This range actually makes up most injury cases.

A lot of people think that the average injury case is huge, involving millions of dollars. But most injury cases settle in the range of $15,000-$100,000. Obviously, broken bones and surgical cases can settle for much more.

Limited By Insurance

The last thing I'll mention here is that you are limited by insurance policy limits. If the other driver's insurance policy has $50,000 in coverage, that is usually all we can recover for your injuries. So even if your case is worth $60,000, we may only be able to recover $50,000.

The other option is to sue the other driver personally.  But they can usually file for Bankruptcy, and you cannot collect any money from them unless they are rich or they are working for a company when the car accident happened.

Talking to a lawyer about your car accident settlement

As you can see, a lot goes into this. No settlement tool or article on the Internet can tell you the exact value of your case.

 Only a lawyer with full possession of all the facts regarding your injuries bills and the permanence of your injury can give you an accurate idea of how much to expect from a car accident settlement.  And it is best to talk to a lawyer who has handled a lot of car accident settlements.

That's why I always tell people to consider getting a free consultation.

"Hiring Scott was one of the best moves I have made in my life....5 star first class act who really knows his stuff."

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About the author - Scott D. DeSalvo

I've been helping injured people just like you for my entire 20+ year career in all kinds of injury cases, and I can probably help you, too.

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