What is the average settlement for a car accident in North Carolina?
When people have been hurt in an accident, they wonder “how much can I get for my injury claim?” The truth is that there is no way to accurately predict the likely settlement amount until the full costs of your healthcare and other losses are known. Once these costs have been assessed, a personal injury attorney can file a demand letter to the appropriate insurer asking for the damages to be paid in full. Even in these situations, there is no guarantee of receiving a specific settlement amount or even an amount within a predictable range.
Unfortunately answering the question “what is the average settlement for a car accident?” is incredibly hard because there is no “average” car accident. A single collision can result in wildly different injuries to occupants of the same vehicle. These individual injuries may have unexpected challenges or complications during the recovery process. As such, projecting how much an average settlement could be worth is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible.
With all this in mind, know that the best way to calculate the value of your claim is to speak with experienced car accident attorneys in North Carolina. They will go over the details of your case, including the losses you have experienced and your likely future costs. With this in mind, the following are the most important factors in the valuation of your settlement. Another important factor that is not discussed here is if the person that you got in an accident with is uninsured.
Severity of Car Accident Injuries
The number one factor affecting the value of your case is how severe your crash injuries are. More-severe injuries require more-intensive medical procedures to treat. They will also require a longer recovery window, leading to a longer period of lost wages and more-expensive long-term treatment costs.
Other damages are reflective of the level of injury you have sustained, as well. Injuries that are more serious tend to be more debilitating, meaning they have a worse impact on your life. This level of impact affects the value of your pain and suffering damages.
For example, if you have minor injuries, your ability to follow your typical routine is barely affected. If you have a leg fracture, though, you will be unable to participate in normal activities for quite some time. Even when you return to these activities, your ability to perform them as usual will be impacted for at least several weeks longer.
If you have experienced a spinal fracture or another injury that leaves you bedridden for weeks, however, you will be completely unable to participate in normal activities. Your life will be disrupted, and you will be in a greater amount of pain and discomfort. All of these factors become relevant when requesting pain and suffering damages, and potentially even punitive damages.
The Costs of Your Medical Treatment, Past, and Future
Medical treatment is incredibly expensive, particularly in the United States. The true costs of healthcare for a serious car accident injury include all of the following:
- Emergency medical assistance and transport
- Emergency trauma care
- Diagnostics, testing, and lab work
- Hospital stay costs
- Specialist provider treatments
- Nursing staff costs
- Outpatient services
- Follow-up appointments
- Prescriptions, medical devices, equipment, etc.
Consider that the cost of an ambulance ride in North Carolina alone can be anywhere from $400 to $1,000. Counties like Mecklenburg raise the price of ambulance transport periodically, going up to a minimum of $921 for emergencies in 2017. One family in Wake Forest was shocked to find out they had been billed over $5,000 for an ambulance ride to Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham.
Breaking down all of these costs, many car crash injury victims are floored to find out the total cost of care, before even including future costs. NPR reported in early 2021 that a family was billed more than $700,000 for a series of surgeries and extended hospital stays.
Providers are often not realistic when estimating prices, leaving patients at the mercy of sticker shock once they receive their final bills. This major risk is why it is so important to speak with a personal injury lawyer experienced with your type of medical case. They can research costs in your area compared to past, similar cases, and help you avoid underestimating the total costs of treating your injury.
“Lost wages” refers to a category of damages compensating you for the difference in income before and after the accident. Any days you miss from work — regardless of whether or not you have paid leave — are considered a form of financial loss.
The final value of lost wages depends on how much you earned before the accident compared to afterward. Minor injuries may result in just a few days of missed work, whereas major ones can cause weeks of being unable to return to your occupation. In cases where there is a permanent impairment resulting from the accident, the injury victim will suffer a lifelong reduction in earning capacity.
A personal injury lawyer uses data on your past earnings and documents your current and projected earnings, arriving at a total cost for your lost wages. This calculation frequently ends up being more than people expect, which is once again why it is so important to work with experienced professionals when filing a claim compared to estimating lost wages on your own.
Clarity of Liability
Unfortunately, one major factor that can influence a case’s value has nothing to do with the victim’s losses. Rather, it has to do with the ability of the victim to convincingly prove that the at-fault driver or other party was, indeed, at fault
Insurers are only pressured to pay out claims that they feel would have legal standing in court. In other words, the fear that they could be sued — and lose — will motivate them to offer a more-reasonable settlement amount.
If, on the other hand, the liability insurance company feels the claimant has a weak case, with minimal proof that their policyholder is at fault, then they will offer a paltry settlement amount — or, in many cases, deny the claim entirely.
Because of this effect, cases where the claimant is represented by a lawyer tend to result in a larger settlement offer.
Other Injury Settlement Valuation Factors
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Transportation to and from medical appointments
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Possible punitive damages
Speak to Attorneys in North Carolina Who Can Help You Evaluate Your Case’s Potential Value
Many car accident attorneys will throw out big settlement numbers from catastrophic injury cases as a way to advertise their own services. While we recognize they may be real cases, in reality, many cases including your own may have a much lower potential value, mainly because the injuries involved are not as serious. However, for serious cases involving deaths, loss of limbs, or lifelong disabilities, the true value of the case could be substantial. Remember, every case and every result is different and that is why you should talk to an honest and straightforward firm when you are considering hiring a personal injury or car accident lawyer for your North Carolina injury case.
Learn the factors in your individual case that will affect the likely settlement value when you speak to a North Carolina car accident lawyer during a free case review. Auger & Auger provides client-centered representation, with a focus on transparency. We never make empty promises, and we always aim to keep you informed so that you are in control of the big decisions.
Find out what you could be asking insurers for during your no-cost, no-risk case evaluation. Call (855) 971-1114 or contact us online today to speak to a North Carolina injury lawyer near you.