What Kind of Settlement Can You Expect from a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you’ve been looking around to see what kind of settlements people win in car accident lawsuits, you’ve probably noticed the amounts vary. That’s because not every case is the same. There are nuances that make each case unique.

You can’t really use other case judgments to determine what your case is worth. For that, you’ll need to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Only an attorney can know what kind of settlement money you’re most likely to receive. However, it’s still worth looking into, especially if you feel like a lawsuit might be a waste of time.

The truth is, filing a lawsuit will almost always get you more compensation than accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company. Insurance adjusters are limited in what they can offer and their job is to pay out as little as possible. Also, you won’t be able to recover non-economic damages from an insurance payout.

If your injuries are severe enough to disrupt your daily life, not recovering those additional forms of compensation will force you to pay out of pocket for past-due personal bills and any unexpected expenses.

What are car accident lawsuits worth?

Generally speaking, you could win a few thousand dollars, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions. It all depends on your circumstances. For instance, if your injuries weren’t severe, you probably won’t win millions of dollars. 

However, if your accident was catastrophic or the result of gross negligence, you could end up winning millions of dollars.

Here are some examples of some well-known settlements:

  • $1,000 judgment: A woman from Israel sued a weatherman over an incorrect weather report. He predicted good weather, but it rained. The woman claimed she had dressed for good weather and caught the flu as a result of the weatherman’s prediction and had to take time off work and pay the doctor.
  • $14.1 million judgment: A woman from New York City laid down on some train tracks trying to commit suicide. The train didn’t kill her, but she sustained serious injuries. She sued the city and won.
  • $160,000 plus $2.7 million in punitive damages: In 1992, an elderly woman bought a hot coffee from McDonald’s and the coffee spilled in her lap, causing severe third-degree burns over 16% of her body, including her thighs and genitals. She was burned badly, down to her muscle and fatty tissue.
  • $6,790 judgment: In 1998, a university student was involved in a car accident that caused her significant mental distress, which caused her to develop anxiety and an eating disorder.

As you can see, judgments vary significantly, and it all depends on a variety of circumstances and contributing factors.

Sometimes judgments are overturned

Naturally, when someone receives a large judgment, the responsible party will likely appeal the decision. If the responsible party can prove there were significant procedural errors or other errors in the court’s ruling, there’s a good chance the settlement will be overturned.

This is exactly what happened to an 18-year-old woman who was hit by a pickup truck crossing the street in Tallahassee. The driver had been drinking at a nearby restaurant and was intoxicated. He was also under the legal drinking age, so her family sued the establishment for serving alcohol to underage persons. The restaurant failed to respond, so the court issued a default judgment in the woman’s favor for $28.6 million.

Five years later, the judgment was overturned during the appeal. The restaurant argued that the court unfairly rejected their comparative fault defense, since the woman who was struck had also been drinking. 

The court determined that it wouldn’t compare fault between a willful actor and a negligent actor.

How are settlements determined?

Since judgments vary to a high degree, you might be wondering how settlements are determined. What makes the difference between a $5,000 judgment and a $5,000,000 judgment?

The answer lies in the different types of damages that can be awarded. For instance, damages can be awarded for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Cost of future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Household expenses
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Punitive damages

 Not everyone will be awarded all of these damages, but the possibility is there if the case meets the right criteria.

 Consult an attorney to see what your case is worth

 If you’re wondering what your case is worth, contact a local attorney to discuss your case. Even when you think other cases are similar to yours, there are probably details that make yours different. An attorney will provide you with the best possible advice regarding the value of your case.