How Much Is The Average Personal Injury Settlement?

Average Personal Injury Settlement

If you suffered a personal injury from a car accident, work mishap, or other unfortunate circumstance, you might aim to receive your financial compensation through a settlement. Therefore, you may want to know how much the average personal injury settlement will cover. Like countless other legal queries, the answer isn’t always cut and dry. 

First, you should consult with a workers’ compensation or car accident lawyer who can navigate personal injury cases. Navigating your case without legal guidance could end up with a grossly devalued settlement. That said, learning more about what to expect from such cases and average settlement amounts never hurts. 

The verdicts of numerous personal injury cases remain undisclosed to the public. So identifying a reasonable settlement amount can be challenging. Steinger, Greene & Feiner’s experienced legal team can help you negotiate a satisfactory settlement amount in your court proceedings. We’ll outline the ins and outs of such cases below to prepare you for the case and consultation with us.

Continue reading to find out what a good personal injury settlement might look like. 

Understanding Personal Injury Settlements

After suffering from an injury, you might need immediate medical attention or be unable to work for numerous consecutive days or weeks following the event. Someone has to pay for these expenses. Unless you pursue some type of legal action, you will pay out of pocket whether you or the other party is at fault. 

Therefore, you understandably want to access the money needed to cover these costs without dipping into your personal financial resources. You might pursue a settlement or court case to recoup your financial losses. A personal injury settlement happens before you attend an official court hearing. 

The general term refers to a resolution to an ongoing conflict that both parties agree upon. In legal terms, it means that you—the plaintiff—and the defendant agree to a chosen monetary amount or set of conditions to mitigate the consequences of your injuries. The settlement prevents the defendant from going to court.

How Are Personal Injury Settlements Reached?

Personal injury settlements typically occur because at least one party wants to avoid a court case. The defendants might include the person or persons responsible for your injury alongside their insurance provider represented by their legal team. They may offer you a settlement in an attempt to avoid a potentially publicized case. 

Settlements often involve intense negotiations where the defendant offers an upfront payment. While the payment might initially satisfy the plaintiff, it might amount to much less than the plaintiff could otherwise receive. Therefore, you must exercise caution when entering into such negotiations.  

Settlements vs. Court Verdicts

How do settlement outcomes differ from court verdicts? Since you settle outside of court, you won’t attend court sessions to acquire your compensation. This may benefit you because:

  • You can dodge the stress and effort often required for court proceedings. 
  • You don’t have to wait as long to receive your compensation. 
  • You know exactly how much money you can expect to receive. 

However, a court verdict also comes with its own perks, including a potentially higher payout. Still, court cases can be unpredictable, even with a robust legal team.

Factors Influencing Settlement Amounts 

Many clients ask their attorneys, “How much is the average personal injury settlement?” The answer depends on the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. Severity doesn’t depend on your hospital stay or physical pain alone. Other factors can influence the settlement outcome.

Many personal injury settlements use a tier list to determine injury severity:

  • Tier one: You have a permanent disfigurement or disability from your injuries. You might have sustained traumatic brain injuries, spinal trauma, or a cosmetic defect.  
  • Tier two: You broke a bone or sustained a deep laceration. These injuries may occur due to forceful impacts from a vehicle or machinery misuse and malfunction. 
  • Tier three: Your injuries might temporarily impact your range of motion and ability to work. For example, sprains, bruises, and muscle strains might prevent you from going about your typical routine. 

The defendants will present a potential settlement amount based on these tiers. 

The Influence of Pain and Suffering

As mentioned, other influences beyond the noticeable injury itself can help you negotiate a higher settlement. This is when your legal team comes in to advocate for these concerns. Pain and suffering refer to the physical, mental, and emotional harm your injury may have incurred. 

For example, you survived a sudden, traumatic car accident. You might have nightmares or exhibit other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the wreck. These symptoms prevent you from enjoying much-needed rest and worsen your mental state. 

You might also need more medical services in the following months and years. Who will cover these costs if the potential settlement only accounts for your immediate needs? 

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damage

Accounting for the influence of pain and suffering means calculating the costs of economic and non-economic damage. Examples of economic damage include lost work wages and medical bills. Non-economic damages involve more abstract consequences, such as:

  • The distress and mental anguish you experience that didn’t occur before the injury
  • Opportunities you may lose due to the injury’s nature
  • Lost quality or enjoyment of life
  • A damaged reputation that causes lost relationships with loved ones

Since you can’t easily calculate the cost of such ramifications with a calculator, many insurance companies attempt to downplay their negative, lasting impacts on your lifestyle. 

Insurance Policy and Coverage Limitations

Before negotiating with the defendants, your legal team will likely explore what the defendant’s insurance policy can and cannot cover. Many people rely on their coverage to pay for medical services and mishaps. Does the person responsible for your injury have insurance coverage? 

If not, they may not be able to afford judgments out of their favor. If they do have coverage, they can only pay out what their policy allows. However, an injury lawyer with case outcomes demonstrating their prowess can help you navigate where the defendant’s coverage ends.

How Settlements Vary by Jurisdiction

The location at which the accident occurred will also impact your settlement amount. Some jurisdictions lean heavily in favor of the injured party, no matter who is at fault. Other areas divide accountability by percentage. The defendant and their insurance provider might be more willing to provide a generous settlement if the accident happened in the former. 

Average Settlement Amounts by Injury Types

The average settlement for your personal injury depends on the tier, the economic damages you must pay for, and the non-economic problems that developed because of your injury. 

  • Instances of wrongful death: A plaintiff can receive nearly two million dollars when a person dies in an accident. 
  • Tier one injuries: If your accident caused a new disability or TBI, you could receive over $150,000 in your settlement. 
  • Tier two injuries: Accidents that cause broken bones or severe open cuts can pull in around $50,000. 
  • Tier three injuries: You could receive around $25,000 for temporary injuries, like bruises and muscle sprains. 
  • No known injuries: Even if you didn’t sustain a known or diagnosed injury, your settlement might be worth up to $6,000. 

The fault level also influences whether the defendants in your case opt to settle before a trial. The Law Dictionary asserts that many personal injury cases settle before a trial takes place. As long as the majority of the fault lies with the defendant, the plaintiff has a reasonable chance of taking a settlement home, especially with guidance from a seasoned attorney.  

Maximizing Your Settlement Amount

If you and your attorney have determined a settlement is a realistic goal, you will work together to secure the highest possible amount. You need ample evidence to do this. Ideally, you begin documenting the injury as soon as the event occurs. 

The documentation provides a timeline of events, the conditions surrounding the injury, and the damage the event caused. You can gather evidence by:

  • Taking photos: Photographs show the injury’s severity and are essential immediately after it happens. You can also document the healing time with photos. 
  • Saving medical bills: Organize copies of your medical bills to show the expenses required to heal from the injury. This includes emergency room visits and subsequent checkups with your medical team. 
  • Keeping correspondence between you and your doctor: Take screenshots of emails or text conversations between you and your care and insurance providers. Put prescriptions, recommendations, diagnoses, and imaging scans in a folder together. 
  • Documenting your personal struggles following the injury: If you struggle with mental health symptoms or social concerns, maintain a diary of these experiences. 
  • Saving communications between you and your employer: You might take days off from work to recover. Document the wages you’ve lost as a product of the injury.

Your lawyer can use these documents and access other evidentiary sources, like witness reports and camera footage, to compile a convincing trail of proof.  

Why Lawyering Up Is Essential

Attempting to navigate a settlement on your own could mean the defendants shortchange you on the final amount. Even though they don’t involve a judge’s verdict, personal injury settlements work similarly to court cases. They require specific types of evidence, knowledge of the legal system, and an understanding of terms and definitions surrounding settlements. 

Plus, you don’t need the added stress of negotiating with the defendant’s insurance provider. Remember: their job focuses on protecting themselves and their profits from cases like these. You need a lawyer at the helm of your case who understands the terms and tactics used to avoid high settlement payouts.

Negotiating With the Insurance Companies 

When negotiations for your personal injury settlement begin, the following tips might prove helpful in securing a generous amount. Although your attorney will likely apply these rules, knowing them for yourself can ensure you understand what is going on and which direction your settlement case may take:

  • Trace the injury or condition directly to the defendant. The defendant’s insurance provider needs to see that you can specifically identify the defendant as the cause of your injury. 
  • Identify the cause. Be as specific as possible when naming the cause. For example, a car wreck injury settlement should outline the defendant’s speed, impact force, and environmental circumstances. 
  • Don’t take the initial offer. The insurance company may attempt to lowball you at first. 
  • Highlight your emotional struggles. Many clients focus more on the physical ramifications of their injury. Your lawyer should emphasize the significance of your emotional damages, too. 
  • Keep all offers and correspondence in writing or another recording medium. Detailed notes and signed agreements help set the settlement in stone. 
  • Make a high counteroffer and negotiate down from it. Your lawyer should have a specific settlement amount in mind before the negotiations. Their counteroffer should be higher than the preferred amount so that the defendant must haggle down. 

When To Accept a Settlement Offer 

As you work with your lawyer, they will likely determine when you can accept an offer by:

  • Ensuring the amount covers all issues caused by the injury: Your attorney will calculate the potential cost of economic and non-economic damages and counteroffer a higher amount to work down from. 
  • Waiting for longer periods to achieve higher settlements: As mentioned, you should never take the first offer. Waiting can yield higher payouts. 
  • Potentially threatening a lawsuit: Your lawyer may still threaten to take the defendant to court. This tactic could help them acquire a higher settlement amount. 

What might seem like a considerable settlement to you might actually shortchange you and leave you vulnerable later. Let your legal team navigate negotiations to protect you now and in the future.  

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Help With Personal Injury Settlements

The average personal injury settlement varies based on location, injury severity, and the fallout you experience as a consequence. Steinger, Greene & Feiner will work tirelessly to help you negotiate a fair settlement amount. Contact us to book a free consultation. 

Our team practices in numerous states and counsels clients with diverse personal injury concerns.

About the Author

Michael Feiner
Michael Feiner

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Michael A. Feiner is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Steinger, Greene & Feiner. Since being admitted to the Florida Bar in 2001, Michael has devoted his practice to representing plaintiffs throughout Florida in various tort and strict liability cases and has successfully litigated cases against national insurance companies, large public companies, and governmental agencies, resulting in tens of millions of dollars for his clients. He has handled all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases on behalf of plaintiffs, including automobile negligence, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability, dog bites, and sexual harassment. Michael’s product liability case against Microsoft, as well as his representation of victims of sexual harassment and abuse by physicians, has garnered him important media attention at both the local and national levels. Michael is an experienced trial lawyer and successfully argued an appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In the reported decision Ortlieb v. Butts, 849 So.2d 1165 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), Michael persuaded the Fourth District Court of Appeal that a directed verdict on liability was appropriate where the defendant did not rebut the presumption of negligence of a rear driver in a rear-end collision.