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I have been surprised by how many people let a strong personal injury case go. A lot of people would just pass potential settlements with excuses like, “they’ll never get them anyway.” In one instance, a car hit one of my friends while he was walking across the street. He couldn’t run for a week due to a slipped disc and he couldn’t get treatment because he wasn’t compensated.
A car accident injury is something that should not be taken lightly. By looking at some of the settlement amounts, you can tell that there is much to be weighed upon in deciding how much someone needs in order to be fully compensated for someone else’s mistake.
For example, two males in Toronto settled for $310,000.00, but that was just for non-pecuniary charges. Additional fees included future care for the victims, the amount of wage lost during and after recovery, the management of the disabilities, and support for the victims’ families. This made the total compensation upwards of $22M.
Of course, this accident was a terrible situation for the families involved. Both victims succumbed to severe brain injury. One had to be placed in a halo and lost the strength of his senses. The other became paraplegic. As tragic as this story is, it does not represent the full spectrum of fair settlements. In other words, this example does not tell us what a fair settlement would be for any accident on its own.
In order to come up with a reasonable amount to settle for in an average auto accident case, we must look at multiple examples to see where the differences lie.
Undoubtedly, part of why the last case mentioned was so high ($22M) is because there were two people involved. Split between both plaintiffs evenly, their total compensation comes to around $11M. This individual was compensated $17M alone.
When driving home one evening, he ran a red light and was struck by a leased truck. Even though he was considered 39 percent liable, he was still able to make $17M. The reason for this difference is due to the amount of medical costs at hand, which amounted to a whopping $13M.
That money is going to be used for a very specific purpose: to help the plaintiff recover. Medical costs are probably the most important factor when it comes to the final settlement. This case took nine years to settle.
The next case occurred in Edmonton. The driver had been drinking and rolled over his truck with a passenger. The passenger involved would stretch a long-winded court case against his old friend for $11M. The court battles went on for nine years before the plaintiff settled for $760,000.
That’s still a lot of money, but what was the difference between these last two cases? It was clear to the judge that the two of them were drunk when they decided to get into the car, but one was negligent enough to actually drive. Drinking and driving is taken very seriously when it results in a court hearing, in fact it should probably be taken seriously with or without a court hearing. But the fact of the matter is that they were still drinking and driving, which is enough proof of negligence to multiply the compensation provided ten fold.
While walking home from work, a car struck the plaintiff. This resulted in chronic pain, depression, and significant cognitive impairment. Subsequently, the plaintiff lost her job and did not expect to work again after the accident.
Due to her inability to work, the plaintiff was able to settle for $315,000 to compensate for lost working hours. This was a high amount because she was told that she would not be able to return to work again after her injury.
Her non-pecuniary settlement was at $120,000. This was due to the fact that she was walking instead of driving. Striking an unprotected civilian in the street will undoubtedly lead to a higher settlement for the defendant, especially because the probability of major bodily harm skyrockets.
Major Head Injury
Another accident in Toronto led to a $125,000 payout when the plaintiff was hit by another car resulting in a cervical sprain, a skull fracture, and a closed head injury. The plaintiff testified to having chronic headaches, nausea, fatigue and numbness.
The main difference that exists between this type of car accident and the last is that this plaintiff was able to recover and go back to work. This means that there is far less extra to pay for on the defendant’s side. $125,000 is still a good amount of money and it makes up for the continuous stresses and pains that the plaintiff is going to go through.
The next case resulted in a $100K compensation for the plaintiff, even though the plaintiff recovered physically from the accident. This happened because the plaintiff received mild head trauma that resulted in, not only chronic pain, but also an inability to sleep due to her PTSD. Notice, however, that psychological symptoms are a little bit more difficult to correlate with different prices.
In this case, the plaintiff had to quit her high-intensity job. The defendant had to cough up more money in order for her to be able to make the same amount of money that she was making before the accident.
The next case is only a little bit different in that the plaintiff was able to recover more quickly than the last. Most of the problems that the plaintiff took to court were cosmetic, leading to an $80K reimbursement. By cosmetic, I mean that they were problems that were easily fixed, such as a broken tooth, knee lacerations, and a facial injury.
The plaintiff’s recovery was actually measured to be about an 85% improvement in 3 years. This is a pretty fast recovery rate and for a case that lasted about 4 years, this meant that the amount of money rewarded to the plaintiff plummeted.
Pain and Suffering
The next plaintiff did not even need any corrective surgery and made $75,000. This four-year trial was to compensate for neck and back pain due to a slipped disc. The plaintiff had stop working for 6 months, but eventually returned.
We can see with the disappearance of permanent factors leads to a compensation that is usually below $100K. The largest factor guiding his still strong $75K lawsuit was his ability to use the aggravating factor called, “Pain and Suffering”. This is a pretty strange approach to putting a monetary value on a person’s pleasure or lack-there-of. This plaintiff in particular loved sports and his back would flare up from time to time when working. This particular measurement of Pain and Suffering plus the treatments necessary for recovery came out to be approximately $75K.
Hit and Run
The final case was rewarded the least due to, not only fact that the plaintiff was able to heal fully and without much of a problem, but that he did not see the car that hit him. In Ontario one evening, the plaintiff was crossing the street at night when a car turned without warning towards him. The car missed the plaintiff’s body, but hit his arm causing a break in his ulna. The plaintiff had no idea what kind of car the person was driving, let alone the license plate of the car.
What is an Average Auto Accident Settlement?
Well, it depends. What kind of injury did you suffer? How long will it take to recover? How much work will you have to miss? How much pain was inflicted? These are all important questions to ask yourself when trying to assess a reasonable settlement amount.
- High Medical Costs for Permanently Debilitating Diseases – $500,000
- Aggravating Circumstances (Drinking and Driving, Reckless Endangerment) – $250,000 — $300,000
- Wage Compensation $50,000 – $315,000
- Major Head Injury $50,000 — $100,000
- Psychological Compensation $20,000 – $50,000
- Recoverable Injuries $5,000 – $20,000
- Pain and Suffering $10,000 – $30,000
It is difficult to say what an average settlement is. Overall, the compensation has to be equal to or greater than the cost of living that the plaintiff must adhere to. Each settlement is completely dependent on the case. Some cases will go on for a decade; some will go on for a year. It all depends on how hard each side wants to fight and how serious the injuries were.
There are several factors that must be considered in order to have the best idea of how much you need in order to be fully compensated for your injuries. These are:
- Medical Expenses
- Property Damage
- Lost Earnings
- Future Lost Income
- Estimated Future Medical Expenses
Once you have your estimated costs for each of these variables, the next step is to measure your “Pain and Suffering” on a scale from 1.5-5. This number will determine how quickly you could recover and how much pain you were put through in the process.
These are the expenses that you incur paying for your treatment. These medical bills do not need to be those paid out of pocket. Even if you didn’t go to the hospital, you can set a “per diem” rate that monetizes the amount of time you spent in pain without help.
Cost of fixing damaged property.
This is the amount of money you could have made had the accident not occurred.
Future Lost Income
Future lost income is measured by the number of days you won’t be able to work due to rehabilitation programs, ongoing treatment, or overall inability to continue working.
Estimated Future Medical Expenses
These expenses are at the discretion of your doctor. It is best to discuss the plan of recovery before deciding on a fixed compensation for future medical expenses.
Again, there is no real “average” injury settlement. A plaintiff can receive plenty of money or nothing at all. The time that it takes to settle is also extremely variable. It can be anything between one and ten years and depends on how much evidence there is and how negotiable both parties are.
If you were involved in a car accident and you sustained injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, the best thing to do, after seeking medical help, is to hire a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will go over the facts with you and weigh your options. If you have a strong case, the lawyer will advise you to proceed to trail. If the case is weak, he or she might consider negotiating with the other party.