What’s the Average Car Accident Settlement?
A common question in personal injury law is, “what’s the average car accident settlement?” In legal terms, a settlement is the resolution of a dispute so that it doesn’t go to trial. Fortunately, the majority of car accident cases do not go to trial because attorneys for the defendants and plaintiffs understand that unpredictable jury trials often result in undesired outcomes. Ultimately, every case has unique aspects that affect the outcome, so there is no real “average”. The best way to receive a car accident settlement that meets or exceeds your expectations is to hire a Jacksonville car accident attorney like Barnes & Cohen. Whether you live in Florida or Georgia, never hesitate to call immediately if you or someone you know has been injured by a negligent driver in an auto accident.
How are Auto Accident Settlements Calculated?
Let’s look at an example of an auto-accident personal injury case: Frank had driven home from work on the same I-95 Northeast Florida route for years. Most of the time, the traffic was reasonable and flowed smoothly, except for the occasional accident that sometimes caused short delays. Today, he noticed traffic was heavier than usual and decided to drive a little under the speed limit. Unfortunately, not all drivers are defensive drivers like Frank. Some choose to be aggressive drivers, like the driver who grew impatient with Frank and decided to speed past him on a double-yellow line.
To avoid hitting another car head-on, the reckless driver slammed on his brakes and swerved too soon in front of Frank. One hour later, Frank was in a hospital emergency room with serious neck and back injuries. His car was totaled after it rolled over once and landed on its side.
Frank survived but remained in the hospital for two weeks. His doctors told him he would probably be unable to return to work for at least six months, if not longer.
After hiring a Jacksonville car accident attorney to handle his claim, Frank learned the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company was already disputing the severity of Frank’s injuries. Frank’s lawyer told him this was expected and that insurance companies are in the business to make money, not give it away. Frank also learned that if he had simply submitted a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, he would have been offered the lowest compensation amount the agency thought they could get away with.
Of course, Frank did not accept the offer on the advice of his attorney. Although the insurance company had presented an itemized list of Frank’s medical bills, his attorney told him there were many other costs involved that the insurance company neglected to include. His checklist of recoverable compensation for an auto-accident included:
- Out-of-pocket expenses associated with legal and medical obligations
- Reimbursement for vehicle repairs (in Frank’s case, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should reimburse him for what his car was worth at the time of the accident, plus an amount representing the depreciated value of Frank’s car because the car now had a “wreck history” that reduces resale and trade-in value)
- Lost wages (including reduced future earnings and work life expectancy)
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical expenses including long-term therapy and/or pain management
Frank’s Jacksonville auto accident attorney knew exactly what to consider when estimating a specific value for each injury. For example, Frank suffered severe whiplash, two broken vertebrae and a deep laceration to his forehead that required five stitches. Top-rated personal injury attorneys, like the legal counsel at Barnes and Cohen, will often request compensation for each injury instead of lumping injuries together in a general settlement package. The key to Frank receiving maximum compensation in his auto-accident settlement was hiring a seasoned personal injury attorney who understood what Frank was entitled to under the law, knowing how to negotiate from a position of strength with the insurance company and other party involved in the accident.
How Much is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
Settlements litigated by an experienced car accident lawyer in Jacksonville, FL can range from $500 to hundreds of thousands of dollars and in serious cases, millions. Settlements can be larger for accidents involving commercial vehicles, DUIs, or deaths. Vehicle accident laws in Florida state that plaintiffs must prove their physical injuries meet or exceed a “tort threshold” before non-economic compensation can be awarded. If Frank’s injuries resulted in chronic backpain, arthritic joint pain, or other permanent injury or scarring, his lawyer should argue that Frank’s injuries exceeded this threshold. In addition, Punitive damages may be recovered when the defendant has acted recklessly or with little consideration for the safety of others. To talk to an auto accident lawyer in Florida, car accident victims can contact our Barnes and Cohen’s Jacksonville office.
If Frank needs a Georgia car accident attorney, his counsel should know that Georgia car insurance laws (unlike in Florida) mandate that resident drivers carry a minimum $25,000.00 bodily injury coverage on their vehicles. Georgia drivers can carry more coverage than mandated and businesses (e.g. truck drivers) typically carry much larger limits. Since Frank’s medical expenses and other damages may exceed the coverage limits carried by the at-fault driver, he may need to file a claim or lawsuit against his own insurance company for the underinsured motorist coverage on his own policy. In Georgia, this coverage can be forfeited if prompt notice of a potential claim is not given to Frank’s insurance company. Make sure your personal injury attorney knows the intricacies of Georgia automobile insurance law and is familiar with important policy language that affects your rights. To talk to an auto accident lawyer in Georgia, car accident victims can contact our Barnes and Cohen’s Georgia office.
For Expert Legal Advice for Car Accident Settlements in Jacksonville, FL, Call Barnes & Cohen
Our attorneys will fight for maximum recovery of your medical costs, lost wages, vehicle damage/loss and pain and suffering. We understand how difficult life can be after a serious car accident and always put our clients’ best interests front and center in every settlement case.
Contact Barnes and Cohen today to schedule a free consultation.