How Much to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement?
Did you know the average auto liability claim in the U.S. has over $3,231 in property damage? The ISO reports that the average bodily injury claim is $17,024. Seeing the averages helps you understand how much you might expect from a car accident settlement.
We say might because every case is different. After representing over 3,500 Californians over the past decade, Levinson Law Group understands this better than anyone else.
Unfortunately, no mystical computer exists that magically sends you 100% accurate settlement numbers.
However, this article provides you with a rough estimate of how to calculate an auto accident settlement for your car crash.
UNDERSTAND YOUR INSURANCE POLICY
Let’s start with the basics. Every driver needs car insurance. Since insurance is one of the biggest factors in the amount paid out in a settlement, we need to review some car insurance basics.
Most insurance companies provide two types of vehicle insurance:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL)
- Property Damage Liability
Bodily injury liability
BIL policies cover the medical expenses of those in the crash. BIL policies have two maximum coverage amounts. The 20/50 and 100/300 are standard coverage maximums. However, this varies somewhat by the insurance agency.
For example, 100/300 means the insurance company pays up to $100K of one person’s injuries and $300K for the occupants of both cars.
If you went to the hospital after another driver hit you, find out what their BIL maximum is.
Property damage liability
The third part of your policy coverage is for the property damage. If your policy is 100/300/50, the third number indicates the insurance company will cover up to $50,000 in damage to your car and other property.
Since the other driver is at-fault, your attorney needs to see what their max policy coverage is. Some drivers carry the minimum coverage possible to save on their monthly payments.
Unfortunately, minimum property coverage might not cover all your claims. You need your insurance company to cover the rest of the damages.
If the at-fault driver cannot cover all your vehicle repairs or does not have insurance, call us immediately at (760) 642-5475.
What is California’s minimum coverages?
We mentioned above how some drivers opt to buy the minimum coverage. In California, the minimum coverage is 15/30/5.
Some drivers’ policies only cover $5,000 in property damages. If a driver with no to little insurance hit your car, you could have a big problem.
Kelly Blue Book averaged new car costs at $36,270. We discussed earlier how the average repair bill for a car crash is $3,231.
Based on these numbers and the severity of your accident, minimum coverage might not be enough to help you. Before you have a problem, add at least $100,000 in underinsurance coverage as part of your policy. For a few dollars a year, you could solve several headaches later.
WHAT IF THE DRIVER IS UNINSURED?
California requires every policy carry uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of 15/30. This way you are protected if an uninsured motorist hits you.
Consider upping your uninsured motorist coverage depending on the type of car you drive. If you drive a new car, then you probably spent more than $30,000. Therefore, it makes sense to have $100,000 or more in coverage if an uninsured driver hits you.
THREE STEPS THAT ANSWER HOW TO SETTLE AN AUTO ACCIDENT CLAIM
#1. Get medical records
If you or someone you love had an injury from a car crash, then you need as many documents from the hospital as possible to prove your case.
Provide a detailed description of injuries from the accident with your doctor. Tell them all your symptoms because they can only record what you tell them.
Doctors might need the information to diagnose something that does not show up in standard tests.
Your medical record is part of your damage claim. The more detail, the better it is for your case.
Note: follow your doctor’s instructions. Take the prescribed medication and get to your appointments. Otherwise, it could affect your case.
#2. Get an experienced attorney quickly
Cases have deadlines, and insurance companies know this. They do everything in their power to delay your payout and keep it as low as possible.
A trusted legal advisor negotiates with the insurance companies to get you the most from your settlement in a speedy time frame.
You should not talk to the insurance company directly. They record everything before speaking to you and can use anything you say in court.
It is no surprise then how insurance industry surveys indicate how claims settled with an attorney get far more money than victims who represent themselves pro se (without an attorney).
Attorneys spend years understanding their craft. Leverage their experience to improve the results of your case.
#3. Resist the lowball offer
Most insurance companies make more money delaying the payout. Yet, they recognize how throwing a little cash early in the case might save them money later.
They want to trap you into a lowball settlement before your lawyer gets involved.
If you speak to the insurance company, do NOT be rude or greedy. Insurance companies recognize you want their money and might smell fraud if you come off as greedy. Be respectful to the insurance company and their representatives.
Hopefully, you have a better idea of how much to expect from a car accident settlement. While every case is different, commonalities do exist.
If you want a better idea of how much to expect from a car accident settlement, call us at (760) 642-5475 to schedule a free consultation today.