When facing any major life event, it is often comforting to know how others have fared under the same circumstances. Doctors diagnosing a patient with cancer will typically give the patient the survival rates for that type of cancer for instance. It can be very helpful to know what to expect.
Car accident victims commonly ask what they should expect in terms of a settlement. In today’s post, we’ll talk about some of the available data, and we’ll discuss why it may not be helpful in predicting the outcome of any particular case.
Statistics on average car accident claim settlements
It is difficult to accurately track accident settlement statistics because there is no public central database that records the outcome of all cases. Some settlements, in fact, are private and not allowed to be publicly disclosed. The best “ballpark” information available tends to come from insurance industry publications like the non-profit Insurance Information Institute (III). Even then, the data being analyzed is at least two years old.
According to the III’s Insurance Factbook for 2021, here are the most recent nationwide average liability settlements paid out by insurers after car accidents:
- 2019 average auto liability claim for injury: $18,417
- 2019 average auto liability claim for property damage: $4,525
- Total combined: $ 22,942
It is important to keep in mind that these were national averages, not California averages. Because nearly everything tends to be more expensive here than in many other states, the averages in California could be higher.
Why aggregated data is not very helpful to individual car accident victims
The information provided above is a nationwide average of car accident liability claims paid out by insurers in 2019. It does not tell you how many car accident victims were represented by attorneys, nor which settlement offers were changed because of the advocacy of attorneys. This is important, because victims who hire an attorney are typically able to negotiate or otherwise achieve a higher payout amount than those who just talk to insurers on their own.
Additionally, the data includes no information about the severity of injuries or property damage in these claims. Therefore, it tells you almost nothing about what you could expect in your own case. Each personal injury case is unique, and the financial value of a given claim will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Severity of injuries and costs of medical bills (present and future)
- The value of the victim’s lost wages from time spent unable to work
- The market value of the vehicles that were destroyed in the crash
- Non-economic damages like pain and suffering
- Extraordinary outcomes like permanent disability or punitive damages
- Allocation of fault (in California, if a victim is considered partially at fault for the crash, their award will be reduced by their assigned percentage of fault)
This type of information is critical to understanding the value of any car accident claim. Suffice it to say, however, that car accident victims who work with an attorney can often expect higher levels of compensation than those who don’t. Insurers will always try to settle claims for as little money as possible, and the threat of litigation is a strong motivator to offer a more generous settlement.
Contact us to learn what our firm can do for you
The attorneys at Woods Williford, P.C., have decades of experience fighting for personal injury victims in California. We offer free initial consultations to help prospective clients better understand their legal options and the estimated financial value of their case. To schedule yours, reach out today by filling out our online contact form.