What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident Neck and Back Injury?

September 12, 2023 | By Polito & Harrington LLC
What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident Neck and Back Injury? Car accident victims commonly suffer from a range of injuries, with the most typical being neck and back injuries. Soft tissue injuries, herniated discs, and spinal cord damage are also common. These injuries can have long-lasting repercussions on a victim's life and ability to work. Car accidents, for example, often cause soft tissue injuries when a collision severely jerks the head. The trauma can lead to chronic pain, reduced range of motion, and even cognitive issues because of a brain injury. Back injuries, particularly those involving the spinal cord, might lead to temporary or permanent paralysis, significantly diminishing your ability to perform daily tasks and earn a living. To get a fair settlement for your neck and back injuries, contact an experienced New London car accident lawyer who can help you get what you deserve. [lwptoc skipHeadingLevel="h3,h4,h5,h6"]

Factors That Determine a Car Accident Settlement Amount

Several factors can have an impact on how much you might receive in a car accident settlement, including:
  • The severity of the accident: This includes the number of injuries, the extent of the injuries, and whether anyone died. A more severe accident will likely result in a higher settlement because they often come with worse injuries that lead to more time away from work and higher medical bills.
  • The extent of the damage to the car: This includes the cost of repairs or the total loss of the car. A more damaged car will likely result in a higher settlement.
  • The medical expenses the victim incurred because of the accident: This includes hospital stays, doctors’ visits, and any other medical treatment costs. The more medical expenses, the higher the settlement will likely be.
  • Lost earnings: This includes the income that the injured person lost because of being unable to work. A higher settlement is more likely in cases involving substantial lost earnings.
  • Pain and suffering: This is a monetary award for the physical and emotional pain and suffering that you experience. The more pain and suffering you go through, the higher the settlement will likely be.
  • Emotional distress: This is a financial settlement for the emotional anguish you experience.
  • Other damages: This covers property damage, loss of use of the car, and any other losses the injured person has suffered due to the accident.
The settlement figure will also depend on the laws of the state where the accident occurred. In some states, there are caps on how much a victim can receive for damages from car accidents. The sum of a car settlement is often negotiable. The injured person and the insurance company may try to reach a settlement agreement. If they cannot, the case may go to trial.

Damages in Car Accident Settlements

Damages in car accident settlements can include:
  • Medical expenses: These include the cost of any medical care you need because of the accident, such as hospital bills, doctors’ fees, and prescription drugs. You might also recover the cost of future medical care if your injuries are permanent.
  • Lost income: If your injuries meant you could not work, it may be possible to recover lost income. This includes the earnings you lost while unable to work and any future income you will lose if your injuries prevent you from returning to your job.
  • Pain and suffering: This is a monetary award for the physical and emotional pain you have experienced since the accident. The amount of pain and suffering damages will depend on the severity of your injuries and the extent of your pain and suffering.
  • Property damage: If your car sustained damage in the accident, it may be possible to recover the cost of repairs or replacement. You may also recover the cost of any rental vehicle you needed while yours was awaiting repair or replacement.
  • Other damages: In some cases, you can also recover damages for other losses, such as loss of consortium or punitive damages.
How much settlement in damages you deserve will depend on your case. If you sustained injuries in a car accident, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case and legal options.

Calculating the Average Settlement for Neck and Back Injuries

Lawyers calculate settlements for neck and back injuries by combining the economic damages—including medical expenses and lost earnings—with compensation for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages are damages that are not easily quantifiable in monetary terms. They can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional pain you experience because of an injury. Emotional distress is the mental anguish that a person faces. Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship and support that a spouse or partner encounters due to their loved one's injuries. Loss of enjoyment of life is the loss of the ability to participate in activities that a person used to enjoy. Noneconomic damages are often more challenging to prove than economic damages, such as medical bills and lost earnings. They can, however, be just as crucial to the victim of a personal injury. A car accident victim, for example, may experience severe pain and suffering, which can significantly change their quality of life. They may also experience emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression. These noneconomic damages can be challenging to quantify, but they can be just as notable as economic damages in compensating the victim for their injuries. Each case is unique, and average settlements for neck and back injuries vary greatly. Severe cases involving spinal cord damage can even result in settlements worth millions. Factors that can increase a settlement include the clear fault of the other driver, invasive medical procedures, or permanent disability. Factors that can decrease it include shared liability or pre-existing medical conditions.

How Long Does It Take To Settle a Car Accident Claim?

The time it takes to settle a personal injury claim varies depending on factors such as the complexity of the case, the severity of the injuries, the level of dispute regarding who is at fault, and the willingness of the insurance company to offer a fair settlement. It could take a few months or several years to settle and then another period before you see any compensation. While taking the first settlement offer may be tempting, it is often not the best strategy. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fairer settlement, and this process takes time. Your lawyer may want to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which means your injuries have stabilized enough for your doctor to estimate future treatment costs. Not waiting until that point can lead to a settlement that does not fully cover your future medical expenses. When pursuing a car accident settlement, this is often the process:
  • Immediately after the accident: You receive medical attention and keep records of everything related to your accident and injuries, including medical bills, repair costs, and any communication with the insurance company. 
  • Within a few days to a week: You contact an attorney, who begins investigating the claim and gathering evidence.
  • A few months in: Your attorney will send a demand letter to the insurance company detailing your injuries and losses and the amount of compensation you are seeking.
  • The negotiation process begins: The insurance company may respond with a lower counteroffer, and your attorney will negotiate to seek the best possible settlement. 
  • If negotiations fail: Your attorney will file a lawsuit, potentially leading to a trial, although many cases settle before going to the courtroom.
Every case is unique, so this timeline can vary. You may have to wait to file a lawsuit until a certain amount of time passes or until you have reached MMI. It is vital to discuss the specifics of your case with your attorney and be patient to pursue the best possible outcome.

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The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer in Car Accident Cases

Navigating the world of car accident injuries and settlements can be overwhelming. This is where a personal injury lawyer comes in. These professionals can fight for victims to ensure they get the compensation they deserve. Here are some ways a personal injury lawyer can handle your car accident claim.
Personal Injury Attorney, James M. Harrington
James M. Harrington, Car Accident Lawyer
They can:
  • Represent you in court and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf: This can be complex and time consuming, and a personal injury lawyer can protect your rights.
  • Explain your legal rights and options: Many different laws and regulations can apply to personal injury cases, and a lawyer can clearly explain your legal options and outline how to best pursue your claim.
  • Gather evidence to support your case: This can include medical records, police reports, and witness statements. A lawyer can ensure you gather the evidence you need to prove your case.
  • Prepare and file legal documents: This can include a demand letter to the insurance company, a lawsuit, and other legal documents. A lawyer prepares these documents correctly and files them in the appropriate court.
  • Represent you at trial: If the case does not settle, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court. This can be a daunting process, but a lawyer can work with you to navigate the legal system and will present your case in the best light.
Personal injury lawyers advocate for their clients to seek maximum compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. This can mean their client can get the medical care they need, pay their bills, and get their life back on track.
Seeking legal counsel through a personal injury lawyer can help you navigate this complex process, protecting your rights, and receiving the highest settlement. You do not have to go through this experience alone—professional help is available. Accessing it may make all the difference. If a car accident causes a neck or back injury, contact an experienced New London personal injury lawyer, who can advocate for you to recover damages for your injuries.