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The side effects from a car accident can linger long after a crash occurs, especially when injuries are involved. After the initial shock has passed, you might wonder what the typical car accident settlement amounts are and whether you’re entitled to compensation.

In addition, you may want to know how long the auto accident settlement process takes and whether you should hire a lawyer. Read on to learn about the typical car accident settlement amounts and the standard claims process.


In this article:


What’s The Typical Car Accident Settlement Amount?

Due to the various factors that affect compensation, it’s difficult to determine exactly how much money you’ll receive in a car accident settlement. The payouts after car accidents range from a few hundred dollars for minor vehicle repairs to millions after severe injuries and fatalities.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the typical car accident settlement amount for bodily injury was $15,785 and the average compensation for property damage was $3,841 in 2018.

5 Factors That Affect Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts

Whenever you receive compensation in a lawsuit, the settlement amount varies greatly based on damages and your situation. As a rule of thumb, the money you receive should be equal to the total amount the accident will cost you. A typical car accident settlement amount will largely be based on the following factors:

Your Financial Losses

This is a broad term that covers any financial losses you may have suffered due to the auto accident. It can include money you lost from your vehicle being damaged or totaled, medical expenses you had to pay to treat injuries from the accident, or even wages you lost out on because you had to miss work due to the accident.

The Severity Of Your Injuries

In general, walking away from a car accident with a few bruises or minor whiplash will result in a much lower claim than being hospitalized with severe injuries. However, injuries aren’t always physical. In the legal world, personal damages typically fall under two categories:

  • Physical pain and suffering: This is the physical pain an injury causes you, like a broken bone or back issues. It also covers any pain you’re likely to suffer in the future as a result of the accident.
  • Mental pain and suffering: This is essentially any type of emotional distress suffered due to the accident. These damages aren’t as easily identifiable and can be much tougher to prove. An example of mental pain and suffering would be permanent disfigurement. Another example would be if the accident caused PTSD that stopped you from comfortably driving a car again.

State Laws

Every state makes its own car accident laws, so the typical car accident settlement amounts vary depending on where you live. If you’re affected by an auto accident in an at-fault state, you can make a personal-injury claim even if you suffered only minor injuries or property damage. For this reason, there are more car accident lawsuits filed in at-fault states than in no-fault states.

There are 12 no-fault states:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Utah


If it’s easy to prove you didn’t cause the car crash, expect to be granted fair compensation. However, the typical car accident settlement amount could be reduced if there’s any room for debate over who’s the at-fault driver. If there’s no obvious negligence concerning either motorist, you may have to head to court to settle the car accident claim.

Car Insurance Policies

Some auto insurance companies have policy limits that can affect the typical car accident settlement amount. If one of the people involved in the crash doesn’t carry car insurance, they could face penalties even if they’re not at fault for the accident.

How To Calculate Car Accident Damages

Trying to calculate how much money to ask for in a car accident settlement is as simple as adding up all of the amounts from the applicable factors discussed above. Below are a few factors to always include when considering the typical car accident settlement amount for your situation:

  • Past medical bills related to the car accident
  • Future required medical treatment
  • Past lost wages due to the car accident
  • Future lost wages due to the car accident
  • Pain and suffering damages

After adding up the factors above, you’ll have a reasonably accurate starting point for how much money you could receive from a car accident.

How To Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement

Ideally, the typical car accident settlement amounts would always account for the damage, pain, and suffering caused by the crash. However, these factors can often be hard to prove in court. Here are four steps to take to maximize your car accident settlement:

Collect Evidence

It may be extremely difficult to collect evidence after a car accident, but any evidence will help when you file an insurance claim or attempt to show the court you deserve compensation. If there were eyewitnesses at the scene, exchange information with them so they can provide statements later on.

Get A Medical Evaluation

Even if your injuries aren’t severe, you should get checked out by a doctor or psychologist following your car accident. That way, any type of injury or mental suffering will be documented and verified by a medical professional.

Start The Process Immediately

It’s better to file your car accident claim as soon as possible, especially when injuries are involved. A simple reason is that you could receive your compensation sooner if you file early.

Moreover, you’ll need that compensation as soon as possible if you’re facing mounting bills resulting from the accident. Each state has its own time limit for filing a car accident claim, called the statute of limitations. The typical time limit is three years, but it ranges from one to six years depending on the state.

Fight For Fair Compensation

Don’t accept a car accident settlement offer if you think the offer is too low. Revisit the formula for how to calculate the typical car accident settlement amount and stand firm in fighting for what you can prove would be fair compensation. If you aren’t getting anywhere fighting on your own, you may want to consider finding legal help.

How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take?

There’s no exact time frame for the length of car accident settlements. It generally takes anywhere from a couple weeks to several months or years for a car accident case to be settled.

The amount of time it takes to determine the typical car accident settlement amount often depends on the severity of the collision and the requested compensation. The larger the damages, the more time you could take fighting for a fair payout.

Should You Hire A Lawyer For A Car Accident Settlement?

Many people believe hiring a car-accident attorney is an easy way to ensure they'll be fairly compensated for their personal-injury case. While it's nice to have an expert advocating for you in the case of serious injury, data shows it doesn’t guarantee a higher settlement payout.

A 2014 study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) showed that car accident injury claimants who hired attorneys received lower net payments on average than those who never hired them. However, a 2018 study by the IRC found that attorney involvement led to higher utilization rates for post-accident treatment, specifically for physical therapy, chiropractor visits, and expensive procedures such as MRIs and CT scans.

Is It Worth Contacting A Lawyer?

Most personal-injury lawyers offer free consultations and case evaluation for those involved in car accidents, so it can't hurt to reach out to discuss your options. Additionally, there are several reasons you may want to reach out to a law firm following a car accident:

  • Most personal-injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay them unless they win a settlement for you.
  • A lawyer can determine if the car insurance company is offering you a typical car accident settlement amount or if you deserve a bigger payout based on your damages. Oftentimes, they’ll consider issues you may not have considered, such as damages for mental suffering.
  • Experienced car-accident lawyers have in-depth knowledge of settlement payouts based on local, state, and federal laws. Additionally, your attorney will handle the paperwork so you can focus on your recovery.

Whether you hire an attorney is up to you. While an attorney may be able to fight for a bigger personal-injury settlement after your car accident, legal fees may mean you won’t net a bigger net payout than you would if you represented yourself.