Average Settlement for Car Accident Back and Neck Injury

The average settlement for car accident back and neck injury ranges from $50,000 to over $1 million. The amount depends on where you live, medical bills, the length of injury, and the extent of your back and neck injury.

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Every car accident back and neck injury is different, and settlement amounts vary widely. The average settlement for a car accident depends on the type of injury, the length of time of the injury, and medical bills. Generally, the more severe the back and neck injury after a car accident, the higher the settlement amount. Another important factor in car accident neck and back settlement is whether the injuries are temporary or permanent. For example, back or injuries resulting in permanent impairment or chronic pain may result in a higher settlement.

Why Is It Hard to Determine a Car Accident Settlement Average?

Settlement amounts vary widely because every car accident is different. The average settlement for a car accident depends on the type of collision, the injury, and the liable party’s insurance policy limit. Although the average payment is $25,000 or less, that doesn’t mean your personal injury claim is average. Under California law, accident victims can pursue compensation for their damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of wages, etc.

To determine the typical settlement amount for a car crash that resulted in neck and back injuries, one needs to examine three main variables:

  • The type and seriousness of any injuries
  • How much any one party was at-fault
  • The available insurance coverage

Some back and neck injuries which are minor in nature end up settling for somewhere around ten thousand dollars. If, however, the back and neck injuries are more serious, disabling, or even paralyzing, then the settlement may reach many thousands or even millions of dollars.

The broad range of ‘average’ settlement values for car accident cases is due to the fact that there really is no average claim. Every case is unique because of the details of the accident, the injuries, and an individual’s personal life. All of these variables can affect a settlement.

Every crash is unique, including those that cause back and neck injuries. Though these accidents impact the same anatomy, certain injuries are much worse than others and result in greater medical expenses. Painful injuries end up causing more suffering than injuries that are not life-changing or disabling.

Often, states will give an individual the ability to get compensation based on the loss of enjoyment of life. If an individual’s injuries are severe enough to prevent them from enjoying the things they love, then this fact can raise the settlement amount.

Also, victims will endure different professional consequences based on their injuries. The same back or neck injury that causes a month of lost wages for an accountant may end a professional athlete’s career. If the athlete recovers whatever wages they would have earned, the settlement could end up in the millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the accountant may only be entitled to several hundred dollars. The most important thing after a car accident is knowing what to do.

What Are Common Neck and Back Injuries?

Severe neck and back injuries may be defined as those that result in constant discomfort and that can result in long-term disabilities. An individual may achieve maximum medical improvement, known as MMI, and still not completely recover from their injuries.

Serious neck and back injuries include the following:

  • Serious herniated discs
  • Broken spinal cord, and other spinal cord injuries
  • Broken neck
  • Broken or slipped vertebrae
  • Internal bleeding
  • Severe concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe whiplash and soft tissue injuries
  • Pinched nerves
  • Chronic neck and back pain

The above injuries cause incredible pain to victims following a car crash, and they can be problems years following the accident. Indeed, enduring a severe car crash injury can change an individual’s life and even leave them paralyzed. These serious injuries happen mostly to individuals who endured one of the following:

  • High-speed rear-end crash
  • Truck accident
  • Head-on crash

What Is the Typical Personal Injury Claim Settlement?

The average car accident settlement amount in California is $25,000 for soft tissue injuries. If there is a broken bone or spinal injury, the settlement amount may be up to $500,000. The plaintiff receives less than $25,000 or less because most personal claims are soft tissue. There is no proper standard or average settlement amount because many factors go into a settlement, e.g., insurance policy limit, type of collision, and soft tissue.

Is It Possible to Estimate a Settlement Amount for a Car Accident?

There is no one method for calculating the settlement amount of a car accident injury claim. Most insurers use a common formula to value the settlement amount: (Special damages x multiplier reflecting general damages) + lost wages = settlement amount. It is common for insurance companies and personal injury attorneys to predict a settlement amount for car accident victims. Typically, they do so according to the following method:

  • Totaling up the economic losses
  • Multiplying the value by between one and ten to gauge the non-economic losses
  • Adding these two values together

An individual’s economic damages include the following:

  • Medical expenses, including the costs for:
    • X-rays
    • MRIs
    • CT scans
    • Medical devices
  • Property damage
  • Expenses for future medical treatment
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Lost wages

These costs are usually simple to calculate and express in dollars. They are often represented in bills for car repair expenses, medical care, and in doctor’s records or workdays missed. After economic damages have been totaled, personal injury lawyers use what is known as a multiplier. The multiplier is determined based on injuries’ severity. If an injury is minor, the amount could be 1. If an injury is severe, it can reach 10.

Neck and back injuries are usually more severe in nature. In car accidents with this type of injury, the multiplier may go upwards of 5, which leads to a bigger settlement.

Then, the multiplier is used to calculate non-economic losses in a personal injury case. Non-economic damages are losses than an individual has endured but that are hard to quantify. These include the following:

  • Mental suffering
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress, especially in the event of disfigurement
  • Loss of life’s enjoyments
  • Reduction in quality of life

An individual’s economic and non-economic losses are then combined. This creates an estimate of the monetary amount that an individual deserves to properly settle a car accident case.

However, the projected settlement amount will be diminished if there is reason to believe the victim had some responsibility for the crash.

That said, an individual’s car accident attorney and the at-fault driver’s insurer will argue both kinds of damages, as well as the proper multiplier to use. In general, victims who hire an experienced lawyer are more likely to achieve an above-average settlement than those who try to do it on their own.

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