The following information details some of the key factors surrounding how much for a car accident settlement and what is the average payout for a car accident.
If you’ve been in a collision, you probably have many questions – particularly if you've been injured or have property damage. One common question that we’re asked by potential clients who have been injured in car accidents is: “How much can typical car accident settlement payouts come to?” The answer to this question depends on many different factors. Continue reading to learn more.
The At-Fault Driver's Insurance
Before assessing how much compensation for a car accident, there are things to know. You have a legal right to sue the at-fault driver for the personal injuries caused by the crash, including the aggravation of pre-existing injuries. Most states do not allow you to sue the insurance company directly. If the at-fault driver or vehicle owner has motor vehicle insurance, that car insurance coverage should pay for any personal injury claims and property damage caused by the accident. However, all motor vehicle insurance policies have limits, which is the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for certain damages stemming from an accident. Drivers pay for these limits with their premiums.
How much compensation for car accidents depends on the insurance policy of the parties involved. If you are involved in a car accident case and the other driver was at-fault, that driver’s liability insurance would cover your damages.
However, as mentioned above, there are often limits on a driver’s liability policy. For example, Pennsylvania only requires liability insurance minimums as follows: Source
- $15,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
- $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident
- $5,000 for damage to property of another person
Using the car accident compensation examples above, even if you are a car accident victim and seriously injured, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may only be required to pay you $15,000 for your injuries. Keep in mind, these are only the minimum limits and many drivers carry more coverage. But insurance limits are an important concept when evaluating a car accident lawsuit.
Full tort and limited tort refer to one's ability to sue for pain and suffering damages after a car crash in Pennsylvania. Limited tort coverage provides less ability to sue for damages sustained in a collision. Limited tort is often more affordable than full tort insurance. Let’s explore the pros and cons of full tort and limited tort coverages in detail.
Full tort: This is a traditional liability option that provides a driver with the ability to sue for both economic and non-economic damages, regardless of the severity of the injuries. This means that you can always recover for pain and suffering damages if you are injured.
Limited tort: This policy allows drivers to save money on their premiums. However, in exchange, they waive their rights to recover certain damages, such as pain and suffering, unless their injuries are deemed serious. Injured individuals are still able to sue the other driver or file a third-party claim against his or her insurance policy for economic damages, such as medical expenses and property damage. Pennsylvania law considers a serious injury one that results in death, serious impairment of a bodily function, or permanent, serious disfigurement. There are also other exceptions to the limitations placed on non-economic damages, including if the accident was caused by a driver who was driving while impaired.
Limited tort settlements can result in lower insurance premiums, as policyholders are agreeing to limit their right to sue for damages. However, they can also limit the ability of car accident victims to receive full compensation for their injuries and losses. If you have a limited tort policy and have been injured in a car accident, it's important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to understand your rights and options for pursuing a car accident injury settlement.
Your Own Insurance Policy
What if the at-fault driver cut you off and left the accident scene and was never found? What if a car or driver was uninsured? What if the at-fault driver had only $15,000 in available insurance coverage? You may also be able to seek damages through your own insurance policy.
UM/UIM Insurance Coverage
Uninsured Motorist insurance (UM) pays for injuries, such as medical bills, that result from an accident caused by a driver who is uninsured. UM insurance also protects you and your passengers if struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Underinsured Motorist insurance (UIM) pays for injuries that result from an accident caused by a driver who has too little insurance to cover all of the injuries.
In the example above, if you were seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver or a driver with only $15,000 in liability coverage, you could then seek damages through your own policy under the UM/UIM coverage. Keep in mind these are add-on coverages that can have higher premiums.
To calculate an average uninsured motorist settlement, the following factors may be taken into consideration:
- The extent of property damage: The amount of property damage caused by the accident, including damage to the vehicle, personal property, and any other property involved in the accident.
- The severity of injuries: The extent of injuries sustained by the victim, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Insurance coverage: The amount of uninsured motorist coverage available under the victim's insurance policy.
- Contributory negligence: If the victim is found to be partially at fault for the accident, the settlement amount may be reduced accordingly.
- Jurisdiction: Laws and regulations vary by state and may impact the calculation of an uninsured motorist settlement.
Accidents Involving Multiple Drivers
A multi-car accident is any crash involving three or more vehicles. The simple definition belies the truth about accidents involving multiple vehicles: The results can be devastating in terms of the severity of the injuries inflicted upon occupants of the vehicles.
When multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, figuring out who’s liable for your injuries can be complicated, unlike a single car accident where it is clear. When a driver is liable for injuries to several people, there might not be enough insurance money to go around.
Using the $50,000/$100,000 example, the at-fault driver only has $100,000 of coverage to go around. The most any one person can get is $50,000.
What if three or four people are seriously injured, and each of the injured people has more than $50,000 in damages? There isn’t enough to go around, and the insurance company won’t take responsibility for deciding how much of the available funds to allot to each claimant.
It will be up to you and your attorney to convince the court your costs were reasonable and necessary, and why you deserve a bigger portion of the insurance money than anyone else.
Like most states, Pennsylvania comparative negligence laws allow individuals who’ve been injured in an accident to recover compensation for damages – even when they are partly at fault for the accident
Under this law, each party in a negligence claim is assigned a percentage of fault. This percentage reflects how much their action (or inaction) contributed to the accident and injuries. Note, Pennsylvania follows a 51 percent comparative negligence rule, which means you can recover damages if you were less than 51 percent at fault. If you are found to carry more than 50 percent of the fault for the accident, you will be unable to seek compensation for damages.
Using this example, if you are deemed to hold 20 percent of the fault, you will be entitled to only 80 percent of the settlement award. If you are struck by a driver with $50,000 liability limits and you have $50,000 in damages, you would be able to recover $40,000.
What to Include in a Car Accident Claim
Seeking medical care to properly diagnose and treat your injuries can be challenging itself. As you watch the bills from the ambulance, emergency room, primary care physicians, and co-payments add up, you may struggle to afford the treatment you need. Costs for medical care are another expense that will be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company if you are in an accident.
If your injuries prevent you from working, or working in the capacity you once did prior to your incident, you may be entitled to lost wages. In addition, if you suffered a permanent injury that prevents you from returning to your occupation, or earning as much as you did before the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of earning capacity. This is another element of damages that will be paid by the at- fault driver’s insurance company.
As if facing the sometimes daunting thought of a long recovery which can impact your life financially, physically and emotionally, weren’t enough, you may find yourself without the use of your vehicle. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will be responsible for paying for damage to your vehicle.
Replacement Services and Rental Car Costs
If your injuries prevent you from performing household chores, such as shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning, or even taking care of your children, you may be forced to hire help. The personal injury claim lawyers at Muller Brazil will ensure you are reimbursed for these expenses.
Pain and Suffering and Emotional Distress
While there is no amount that can truly make up for your pain, the personal injury lawyers at Muller Brazil know how car accident settlements work and will fight to be sure that you are fairly and adequately compensated for all physical pain, mental distress, discomfort, and inconvenience, you have experienced as a result of your injuries.
- The following factors play a role in determining the award for pain and suffering:
- Severity of the injuries
- Whether the injuries are temporary or permanent
- The event to which the injuries affect your ability to perform basic actives of daily living and other activities
- The duration and nature of medical treatment
- The duration and extent of physical pain and mental anguish
- Health and physical condition prior to the injuries
Age can be a factor that affects the average payout for a car accident in a few ways. Firstly, younger individuals who are involved in car accidents may receive higher payouts if they have a longer life expectancy and may require more long-term medical care and support. On the other hand, older individuals may receive lower average insurance payouts for car accidents if their life expectancy is shorter and they may not require as much long-term care.
The severity of the injuries sustained in a car accident is one of the most significant factors that affect how much to expect from car accident settlements. Generally, the more severe the injuries, the higher the average insurance payout for car accident amount will be. This is because more severe injuries tend to require more extensive medical treatment and may result in long-term or permanent disabilities, which can significantly impact a person's quality of life and ability to earn a living.
Temporary injuries, such as broken bones or soft tissue injuries, generally result in lower average compensation for car accidents than permanent injuries. This is because temporary injuries typically heal within a few weeks or months, and the victim is expected to make a full recovery. The settlement may include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering during the recovery period, but it will generally not include compensation for future medical expenses or long-term disability.
In contrast, permanent injury settlements amounts, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or amputations, can result in much higher compensation payouts for car accidents. These injuries often require ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and assistive devices for the rest of the victim's life, and may result in a significant loss of income or earning potential. Settlements for permanent injuries may include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Physical pain is not the only burden suffered in the aftermath of a personal injury incident. Sleepless nights, frustrating, painful and time consuming treatment, struggles with activities of daily living, mobility limitations, work restrictions, and the inability to function as you once did can add additional stress and anxiety, and lead to depression or worse. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Muller Brazil make it a point to get to know you and the struggles you face, and fight to make sure that you are compensated fairly.
What is the Max You Can Get From a Car Accident Settlement?
It is difficult to calculate what a typical car accident settlement amounts to, let alone the most. The maximum car accident settlement amount you can recover varies greatly and depends on many factors such as the at-fault driver’s insurance limits, your insurance policy, and the injuries and damages sustained. For example, let’s say you are in an accident that is not your fault and the other driver has liability limits of $50,000/$100,000. You sustained $25,000 in pain and suffering damages and paid $10,000 for out of pocket medical expenses. You also had $10,000 in lost wages from missing work for treatment. In that example, you would be able to recover $45,000 for your auto accident.
As another example, you are hit by a commercial vehicle with $1,000,000 liability insurance limits. You suffer $500,000 in pain and suffering damages, $100,000 in medical expenses and lose $150,000 in wages. You would be entitled to recover $750,000 for your auto accident.
if you are involved in a car accident, it's important to understand that the average payout for a car accident can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the accident. There are many factors that are taken into account when determining average settlements, such as the severity of the injuries sustained, the extent of property damage, and the insurance coverage of both parties involved. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is important to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
It's also worth noting that there are many things to consider when dealing with a car accident, such as filing a police report, seeking medical attention, and communicating with insurance companies. It can be overwhelming to navigate this process on your own, so it's important to seek professional help.
The road to recovering what is owed to you can be arduous. How much can I get from a car accident settlement is a question too many people must face alone. Muller Brazil can help you understand what to expect and how long it takes. From minor car accident settlements to commercial vehicle accident lawsuits, don't hesitate to contact Muller Brazil today!
Meet the Author
Max Muller - Founding Partner
Maximillian J. Muller is a founding member of Muller Brazil and My Vaccine Lawyer. Mr. Muller is an experienced litigator in both Federal and State Courts in the areas of vaccine injury, unsafe drug and medical device injury, personal injury, mass torts, and bad faith. Mr. Muller prides himself on keeping Muller Brazil on the cutting edge of injury litigation and running a client-focused practice.
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