The average settlement for a car accident that caused back and neck injuries can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over a million dollars. The 3 main factors that drive settlement value are:
- the severity of your injuries,
- whether you were partially to blame for the crash, and
- how much insurance coverage there is to cover the settlement.
Why does the average settlement amount have such a wide range?
Because there is no such thing as an “average” car accident case. Each situation is unique, even among accidents that cause back or neck injuries. Small differences between cases can drastically alter what you can reasonably expect.
For example, some back or neck injuries are more severe than others. More severe injuries lead to higher medical bills and more pain and suffering, both of which should increase your settlement amount.
Your personal circumstances can also alter the settlement.
Your job can determine whether a back or neck injury is irrelevant or debilitating. If your injury ends your professional prospects, you could recover substantial amounts in lost earning capacity. If you are a high wage earner and your injuries keep you out of work, you could be entitled to significant lost wages.
Even your personal network can affect a settlement. Your spouse or loved ones may be entitled to compensation for their loss of consortium.
Injury victims should strongly consider hiring a car accident attorney to file a car accident claim. Legal representation can ensure you get what you need to cover your medical care and the other compensation you need to move forward.
What are some common back injuries and neck injuries to suffer in a crash?
The severity of the injuries plays a major role in the car accident settlement you can expect. Some common injuries and severe neck and back injuries that tend to happen in car crashes are:
- muscle or tendon strains,
- ligament sprains,
- whiplash injuries and other soft tissue injuries,
- short-term memory loss,
- herniated discs,
- spinal cord injuries,
- short-term neck pain or back pain,
- stiffness in the lower back, neck, or shoulders,
- chronic pain, and
- broken or fractured ribs.
If serious or debilitating injuries occur, they can lead to a larger settlement in your personal injury claim.
Will the car accident settlement decrease if I am partially at fault?
Yes, and in some states you may be barred from recovering anything.
In many car accidents, both drivers behaved negligently and caused the crash. These are shared fault situations. Different state laws resolve these situations in 1 of the 3 following ways:
- pure comparative negligence,
- modified comparative negligence, or
- contributory negligence.
Both pure and modified comparative negligence task the jury in the personal injury trial, assigning a percentage of fault to each party to the crash. In pure comparative negligence states, like Florida or California, the plaintiff’s compensation would be reduced by their percentage of fault, even if it was very high. In modified comparative negligence states, like Texas, your compensation would be reduced by your percentage of fault, but you would recover nothing if you were more than half at fault.
Some states, like Virginia, use contributory negligence rules. If you were even 1 percent at fault for the crash, you would be barred from recovering anything.
The personal injury lawyers at our law firm know that, even though the jury would only assign percentages of fault at trial, it will influence the settlement negotiations. If you played a significant role in causing the crash, your settlement offers will likely be lower.
Will the insurance company’s coverage impact my personal injury case?
Another major factor is the availability of insurance coverage. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or has very little insurance, and you do not have alternative sources of compensation, you are likely to go under-compensated. This is especially true if you suffered serious injuries and you are entitled to lots of compensation.
A car accident lawyer can still advocate on your behalf. By seeking alternative sources of insurance coverage, like your own uninsured/underinsured coverage, they can recover the maximum amount of compensation available to treat your car accident injury.
How can I estimate a back injury settlement or a neck injury settlement?
Using an auto accident settlement formula, you can estimate a fair settlement offer. A common one to use is the multiplier method.
The multiplier method adds up all your economic damages, like lost wages, property damage, and medical expenses. It then estimates your non-economic damages – like your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium – by multiplying your economic damages. The number used as the multiplier is between 1 and 5 and reflects how much the crash has affected your quality of life.
The estimate of your non-economic damages is then added to your economic damages to give you an approximate settlement amount.
For example: Billy is in a serious rear-end collision. He suffers a spinal cord injury that leaves him partially paralyzed, even after extensive medical treatment and physical therapy. His economic damages and medical costs are $2 million. The insurance adjuster agrees that the paralysis warrants a multiplier of 5. This estimates Billy’s non-economic damages at $10 million. A fair settlement value, therefore, would be $12 million.
The best way for motor vehicle accident victims to fight for a higher settlement payout is to establish an attorney-client relationship with an experienced personal injury attorney.
 See, for example, Coutlakis v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 796 S.E.2d 556 (2017).