What is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?

Clients talking to lawyer about car accident settlement
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Car accidents are a serious matter. There are a variety of painful outcomes to deal with, from the loss of your vehicle, to serious injuries requiring expensive medical treatment, to lost wages and the potential for a decrease in the quality of your life. A settlement can go a long way towards getting your life back on track—but it can be difficult to know what to expect after an accident.

While the numbers discussed in this article are for informational purposes only (and so aren’t a guarantee of claims to be won), we can take a look at the averages to get a sense of what a typical car accident settlement is like.

What Factors Shape Car Accident Settlements

While it’s impossible to estimate what kind of settlement an accident will warrant without having the specific details surrounding the event, some common factors influence the size of the final settlement.

The Extent of Injuries

One of the most impactful factors on the size of the settlement is the extent of the injuries suffered in the accident. Minor injuries lead to minor losses and smaller settlements. However, injuries can have costs that compound with their size. More significant injuries mean more time spent in the hospital, more costly surgeries, in and outpatient therapy, and more time out of work, leading to more lost wages.

The Location

While the size of your settlement may not change within a state, which state you’re in can matter a lot in determining what your settlement looks like. Some states are no-fault, where people must carry insurance to cover their injuries and expenses in the event of a car accident. However, most states, including Illinois and Missouri, are fault states.

Some of these states use a sliding scale for liability. If a court determines that a party is 70 percent responsible for an accident, they’ll be responsible for 70 percent of their own and the other party’s expenses and damages. However, Illinois uses a modified comparative negligence system. If you’re at least 51 percent responsible for a crash, you’re not eligible to collect damages from the other party.

The cost of living also varies depending on the state you live in. If the cost of living is higher, you may make more, but the cost of medical treatment may also be higher. In that case, you may end up with a larger settlement than if you lived in a state with a lower cost of living.

How the Accident Unfolded

It’s also important to recognize that your actions and how an accident unfolded can have an impact on your settlement. For example, if you were under the influence at the time of the accident, it would be difficult to prove that you weren’t at least 51 percent at fault.

Two cars in a car accident in the street
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What is the Average Settlement for Whiplash?

As with all injuries, the average settlement for whiplash varies based on severity. There are five grades of whiplash, measured on a scale from 0 to 4. For grade 0 to 1 cases, you may feel no pain or just minor pain, and while medical treatment is recommended for grade 1 cases, the soreness usually resolves on its own within a few days. The average settlement for low-grade injuries is generally between $1,000 and $10,000.

Things get more complicated with grade 2 and 3 whiplash. Surgery for these grades of whiplash isn’t guaranteed but is a likely outcome. With at least grade two whiplash, there may be decreases in the range of motion, which can limit blue-collar workers, and frequent headaches, which can impair white-collar workers. The amount of medical treatment required and the amount of missed work can vary greatly at this level, so the average range varies too, from around $25,000 to as much as $100,000.

Grade 5 whiplash almost always requires major surgery, and even when it’s successful, it can drastically change your lifestyle. With major surgery and recovery time, you’re likely to miss a lot of work, and physical therapy will almost certainly be required. For this reason, settlements for grade 5 whiplash can be hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, depending on your specific circumstances.

What is the Average Settlement for a Back Injury?

As with whiplash cases, the average settlement for a back injury varies based on the specific factors at play. For a lower back sprain, you could reasonably expect a settlement between $10,000 and $50,000. With a more severe back injury, such as a herniated disc, fracture, or spinal cord injury, one or multiple surgeries may be required, and medical treatment may be ongoing. For these cases, settlements generally start at around $100,000, with a national average roughly double that amount. For especially severe injuries, settlements can be in the high six-figure or low seven-figure range.

What is the Average Settlement for a Knee Injury?

Knee injury settlements in car accident cases tend to be lower than those for back injuries. Knee injuries don’t always require surgery; when they do, they tend to be less expensive than back surgery. That’s not to say that knee injury settlements are small. While they start at around $10,000, they can rise to six figures for especially severe injuries that result in missed work and significant amounts of ongoing physical therapy.

What Should You Expect in a Car Accident Settlement?

In this article, we’ve covered many different variables that can affect the outcome of a car settlement case. The one constant is that it’s impossible to predict what a settlement will be without the specific details about the accident and injury. For that, you need a lawyer.

And not just any lawyer can deliver the best outcome. Hipskind & McAninch, LLC has a 99% success rate in its cases and recovered millions of dollars for its clients. Contact us today for a 100% free, no-obligation case review. 


Car Accidents


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