Average settlement amounts for motor vehicle accidents can vary widely depending on the facts of a particular case and the laws of a particular state. The difference between no-fault and traditional fault states, in particular, can be stark. However, there are general ranges into which many settlements fall. Read on to learn more about average settlement amounts for motor vehicle accidents.
“Fender benders,” in both no-fault and traditional fault states, tend to be accidents that involve little or no personal injury. Instead, minor accidents generally involve minor damage to your vehicle, and maybe cuts, scrapes and bruises that don’t really require any ongoing medical attention. They tend to involve dollar amounts in the range of $7,500 or less.
A fender bender, due to its relative simplicity, is a claim often resolved quickly and with minimal difficulty between the victim and the at-fault party or their insurer. Such cases average between $2,500 and $5,000 in traditional fault states. In no-fault states, the average payouts tend to be less and will be collected from your own insurance company. And in some states (Michigan, for example), there are “mini-tort” provisions that provide for statutory automatic payments of damages of $1,000 or less. The at-fault insurer, not the injured party’s insurer, pays these “mini-tort” damages.
Auto Accidents Involving Minor, Temporary Injuries
In cases involving injuries that are relatively minor, and carry no ongoing complications, settlement amounts tend to average somewhere between $10,000 and $25,000. These are often the “soft tissue” or “whiplash” cases, or accidents that result in injuries that may require a cast, brief physical therapy or minor surgery. Some cases involving broken bones may fall under this range of settlements.
These types of cases are cases that would be handled at the district or local court level and not in county or circuit court. Very often, cases in this range are settled without a lawsuit, but may require the assistance of an attorney when negotiating with an insurance company.
In no-fault states, cases falling under this range are rare. Your own insurer will reimburse economic damages, such as medical expenses and repairs, with little or no difficulty. Pain and suffering damages are simply not available—by statutory design. Most no-fault states have laws on the books requiring injuries to be life altering in order to file suit and collect from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Cases in this range simply do not meet the threshold injury requirement.
Injuries Involving Serious Impairment of an Essential Bodily Function
The average settlement amounts for motor vehicle accidents resulting in a serious impairment of bodily function vary depending upon the injury. Orthopedic injuries that require surgery, physical therapy and ongoing care tend to average between $50,000 and $75,000. These types of injuries include severely broken arms, legs and some back injuries. Spinal injuries that do not result in paralysis can range from $75,000 - $100,000 on average. Claims involving paralysis normally settle in the high six-figure range, and can cross over into the area of millions of dollars.
When dealing with injuries to the head, settlement value varies wildly. The generic “closed head injury” is often difficult to prove, as are the residual damages associated with such an injury. However, injuries to the brain that involve documented cognitive impairment, loss of brain function, or require surgery can settle in a range between $100,000 - $250,000. Cases involving catastrophic brain injury—meaning brain injury so severe as to prevent the injured party from being able to function without assistance in their daily life—can settle in the high six-figure ranges, and even occasionally drift into the millions in cases where potential exposure at trial is far greater.
Average settlement amounts for motor vehicle accidents are difficult to pin down, because they can vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you have been the victim of an auto accident, consult with a reputable local attorney to learn more about your potential settlement prospects.
For more information about how to determine whether or not your settlement offer is adequate, see What Is a Fair Settlement for Pain and Suffering?