What is a Typical Car Accident Settlement Amount? Well, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, in 2013 the average bodily injury car accident settlement was $15,443. In addition, the National Center for State Courts published data collected in 2001 from several counties throughout the United States, including Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, and Harris counties, that calculated the median jury award for motor vehicle accidents. The median jury award for motor vehicle accidents was $17,544. Unfortunately, these figures don’t tell us much. Since car accident injury settlements are so fact intensive, an average doesn’t provide much help in regard to what a particular case is worth. As discussed below, there are several factors that go into valuing a car accident injury settlement case. Only through experience can someone know how to value a car accident injury case properly. If you feel that the insurance company is undervaluing your case, it’s best to consult an experienced car accident attorney. Don’t Trust “Magic” Formulas or Online Settlement Calculators Many car accident injury victims will Google what a typical or average car accident settlement amount would be for their specific situation. This search will yield many results with websites claiming to give an exact calculation or formula to determine a typical settlement amount for a car accident injury case. Most common is the calculation of taking the dollar amount of the medical bills and lost wages of the injured victim and multiplying it by some arbitrary number (1.5-5) to arrive at a pain and suffering dollar amount, then adding the total amount of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering together. However, this is almost always inaccurate. Neither insurance adjusters nor Texas juries are instructed to use this method to calculate the value of any car accident injury settlement or award. This practice arose in the past from both insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys “guesstimating” an amount of where an appropriate settlement amount would be for usually minor, soft tissue injuries (e.g., whiplash). The reality is there is no formula or calculator that can provide an actual car accident settlement amount. There are simply too many variables involved in each case to accurately calculate an average or typical car accident settlement amount. However, there are factors that you should know that can affect the value of your case, such as the amount of your “damages,” the calculation of pain and suffering, and other relevant factors. An overview of these points are discussed below, as well as real car accident injury case settlement examples from several different counties in Texas. Before delving further into the discussion of typical or average car accident settlement amounts, it’s important to know what exactly a “settlement” is. What is a Settlement? A settlement is an agreement between parties of a legal dispute which resolves the dispute prior to either filing a lawsuit or proceeding further after a lawsuit is filed. The parties usually agree to settle the underlying dispute for a dollar amount in exchange for releasing the liable party from any further liability. In the car accident context, the liable party’s insurance company would agree to pay the injured party a sum of money in order to release their insured from any further liability. The settlement amount will be an amount both parties feel is fair to settle without proceeding further in the dispute and avoiding further litigation expenses. Keep in mind, insurance companies are businesses with a main goal of maximizing profits. This means they will do their best to pay out as little as possible in settling claims. Depending on the facts of your case, accepting a settlement may make sense. However, there are situations where filing a lawsuit and going all the way to trial is necessary to achieve top dollar for your case. Most Important Factor in Determining Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts One of the most important factors in determining a typical car accident settlement amount is knowing what your “damages” are. Damages are a term of art in the law meaning the calculation of losses realized in a personal injury case. You must be able to prove damages in order to receive fair value for your car accident injury case. There are two main types of damages, including Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages, in addition to other sub-categories of Compensatory Damages which are broken down below. Compensatory Damages Compensatory Damages, also known as “actual damages,” are the monetary compensation that are awarded to an injured victim as a result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Compensatory damages are intended to put the injured party back to where they were before the accident and make them “whole.” Special Damages Special Damages or “Specials” are a type of compensatory damages that are quantifiable, such as past and future medical expenses, past lost wages and loss of earning capacity, and other out-of-pocket expenses. You prove these damages by presenting evidence such as medical bills, paycheck stubs, W-2s, or simply a letter from your employer detailing the amount of lost time, your salary, your position at the company, and how many hours you usually work. Lost wages include the time you missed from work and weren’t paid, as well as sick time and vacation time used as a result of the accident. General Damages General Damages, also known as non-economic damages, are another type of compensatory damages that are difficult to quantify. According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 41.001(12), non-economic damages include: Physical pain and suffering; Mental or emotional pain or anguish; Loss of consortium; Disfigurement; Physical impairment; Loss of companionship and society; Inconvenience; Loss of enjoyment of life; Injury to reputation; and All other nonpecuniary losses of any kind other than exemplary damages. Due to the difficulty in calculating General Damages such as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment, insurance adjusters use software such as Colossus and Claims IQ to place a value on each car accident injury claim. Adjusters enter in...Read More
Car Accident Lawyers Serving All of Texas
Unfortunately, automobile accidents can happen to anyone. From a fender bender to a catastrophic accident, Texas roads experience some of the highest numbers of traffic accidents in the country. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 254,415 persons were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. Of those accidents, there were 14,282 serious injury crashes with 17,535 people sustaining a serious injury. When you are hurt in an automobile accident which is caused by the carelessness of another person or business, it is their legal duty to make you whole either by seeking compensation through their insurance company or directly through the responsible party.
Not only will your injuries affect the value of your case, where the accident happened and where you and the responsible party live will impact the value, as well. A plaintiff may file their lawsuit in any county that is proper according to Texas law, which usually means either where the accident occurred, where the defendant lives, or where the plaintiff resides. This is called “venue.” Where you are potentially filing a lawsuit and negotiating a settlement with an insurance company or where you actually file a lawsuit has an effect on the value of your claim.
Some counties are more favorable to the plaintiff, some are more favorable to the defendant, and some are right down the middle. Factors such as local judicial profile, demographics, and political climate determine whether you’re in a county that may be more or less favorable to your case.
Generally, many of the southern counties such as Nueces, Hidalgo, and Cameron are more plaintiff-friendly. In addition, many eastern counties such as Jefferson, Nacogdoches, and Liberty are either plaintiff-friendly or neutral to both parties. On the other hand, much of the panhandle of Texas, except Gray and Wheeler counties, is either neutral or more defendant-friendly. The larger counties such as Harris, Fort Bend, Travis, and Bexar seem to be in the middle, except Dallas county, which is now considered a more plaintiff-friendly venue. Nevertheless, juries in the Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast are the best venues for bringing a car accident lawsuit. These juries tend to be more sympathetic to injured parties and award larger settlements and, in effect, the settlements in these areas tend to be larger.
Whether you live in El Paso, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Beaumont or somewhere in between, we can help.