The average settlement for a car accident that caused back and neck injuries typically depends on three primary factors:
- the extent of the injuries,
- the degree of fault on the part of the other party, and
- the amount of insurance coverage available.
Some neck and back injuries are minor and often settle for around $10,000. If the back or neck injuries were severe, debilitating, or paralyzing, the average settlement can be for hundreds of thousands or over a million dollars.
Why does the average settlement for a car accident vary so much?
The wide range of “average” settlement amounts for a car accident case is because there is no such thing as an “average” claim. Intricate details about the accident, your injuries, and even your personal life can change the value of your case and significantly alter an expected settlement.
Every accident is different, even those that caused neck and back injuries. Even though these injuries affect the same body parts, some are much more severe than others and will come with much higher medical expenses. Extremely painful injuries will also cause more pain and suffering than those that are not debilitating.
Many states also give you the right to compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life. If your injuries will prevent you from doing the things you most enjoy doing, this can increase the expected settlement amount.
Additionally, different victims will suffer professional repercussions in different ways from similar accidents. The same neck or back injury can end a professional athlete’s career, while only causing a week of lost wages for an office worker. The athlete would be entitled to his or her lost earning capacity which could run into the millions of dollars, while the office worker would receive only a few hundred.
Your settlement after a car accident can also increase or decrease based on your personal network. Your spouse or loved ones would be entitled to compensation for their loss of consortium, or loss of companionship.
What are some examples of minor back or neck injuries?
Minor injuries are generally those that do not cause lasting debilitation or chronic pain. You will make a full recovery from minor injuries. Some examples of back or neck injuries that are minor include:
- muscle or tendon strains,
- ligament sprains,
- whiplash injuries,
- short-term memory loss,
- short-term pain or stiffness in the lower back, neck, or shoulders, and
- broken or fractured ribs.
Some of these common injuries are still quite painful. Many require significant medical care in the short term. However, they are generally going to go away as time passes.
Nevertheless, it is important to get medical attention for these minor injuries right away. Injuries that appear minor at first can get worse as time passes, especially head injuries, such as
- concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or
What is an average settlement amount for these minor injuries?
Truly minor back and neck injuries suffered in a car accident – not those that appear minor but then get worse as time passes – generally see a modest settlement amount. The average settlement for a minor back or neck injury can range from between $10,000 to $50,000.
Just because a fair settlement for your injury case may be lower does not mean that it is not important to recover a full payout after the motor vehicle accident. A car accident attorney from a reputable law firm can maximize your neck or back injury settlement.
What are some examples of severe neck or back injuries?
Severe neck or back injuries are those that cause chronic pain or that lead to lasting disabilities. You may reach a stage of maximum medical improvement, or MMI, without ever fully recovering from these injuries.
Some examples of serious back or neck injuries are:
- broken spinal cord, or other spinal cord injuries,
- serious herniated discs,
- broken or slipped vertebrae,
- broken neck,
- severe whiplash or soft tissue injuries,
- severe concussions or other traumatic brain injuries,
- chronic neck or back pain,
- pinched nerves, or
- internal bleeding.
Many of these serious injuries are incredibly painful in the immediate aftermath of the car crash. However, many are still painful years after the incident. Suffering one of these severe car accident injuries can alter your life forever or even leave you paralyzed. They are especially common for car accident victims who were involved in a:
How much can these personal injury claims settle for?
Car accident claims involving severe neck or back injuries can settle for significant amounts. In some cases, the insurance company will make a settlement offer to end these cases for up to $500,000 or $1,000,000.
Can I estimate a car accident settlement amount?
Personal injury lawyers and insurance companies frequently estimate an expected settlement amount for car accidents. They generally do this by:
- totaling up your economic damages,
- multiplying the number by between 1 and 10 to estimate your expected non-economic damages, and then
- adding those 2 numbers together.
Your economic damages are your:
- medical bills, including the medical costs for your:
- CT scans, and
- medical devices, like a cervical collar to help broken bones in your neck heal;
- costs for anticipated future medical treatment, like physical therapy,
- property damage,
- lost wages, and
- lost earning capacity.
These are often easy to add together and state in a dollar amount. Most of them are reflected in bills for medical care, vehicle repair costs, your medical records, or your time missed from work.
Once your economic damages are added together, personal injury attorneys use a multiplier. The multiplier is based on the severity of your injuries. For minor injuries, it can be as low as 1. For severe injuries, it can be as high as 10.
Back and neck injuries tend to be more severe than other types of injuries. In many car accident cases with these injuries, the multiplier can be above 5, leading to a higher settlement.
The multiplier is then used to determine your non-economic damages in your personal injury case. These are losses that you suffered but that are difficult to put in a dollar amount, like your:
- physical pain,
- mental suffering,
- emotional distress, especially if you suffered a disfigurement,
- loss of consortium,
- reduction in your quality of life, and
- loss of life’s enjoyments.
Your economic damages and non-economic damages are then added together. This produces a rough estimate of the compensation that you likely deserve to settle the auto accident case.
This estimated settlement value, however, will get reduced if there is evidence that you were partially at fault for the accident.
Of course, your car accident lawyer and the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver will dispute both forms of damages and the correct multiplier to use. Injury victims who establish an attorney-client relationship with a skilled lawyer are generally more likely to receive an above-average car accident settlement in their personal injury lawsuit than those who go through the process alone.