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How Are Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts Determined?

Sometimes things change the course of your day or your week. Car accidents can change your life. The ripples from a car accident can affect your health, your family, and your happiness far into the future.  

Millions of drivers across the country suffer injuries from car accidents every year, and the costs that stem from those accidents can be hard to measure. From compassionate medical staff to experienced personal injury lawyers, it can take a lot of help to get a fair car accident settlement to help to recover. 

Compensation from an accident should include all kinds of unexpected hardships, such as car repairs or lost wages, but those facing significant and ongoing medical expenses after an auto accident can have the largest undertaking ahead of them. 

What Are Common Car Accident Injuries? 

The violent force of a car accident can put the whole body in danger: 

  • Back injuries: Torn and sprained muscles are just the beginning. Auto accidents are one of the country’s leading causes of spinal cord injury. From a herniated disc injury to nerve damage, cases of serious pain and paralysis can be connected directly to car accidents. 
  • Neck injuries: A continuation of back injuries, the spine is also vulnerable in the neck area. Car crashes often send the head back and forth quickly, causing whiplash or worse. These injuries can lead to loss of movement and sharp pain that extends into the shoulders and arms. 
  • Head injuries: Drivers with head injuries can find the road to recovery full of medical complications. Headaches, seizures, and weakness are symptoms of head trauma, along with sleep, balance, behavior, and long-term memory problems. 

Major injuries play a big role in accident costs, but seemingly minor injuries can also lead to chronic, debilitating issues. An injured driver thinking about skipping the trip to the doctor because “the pain isn’t that bad” should think twice for several reasons: 

  • Injuries like internal wounds and spinal injuries might not show signs right away but should be treated as soon as possible 
  • Slow-developing mental and emotional trauma can be found early in the healing process 
  • Immediate doctor visits can create a stronger link to injuries the accident caused 

Let us help you.


Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer? 

Challenges after a car accident can last a lifetime, like keeping up with outstanding medical bills, preparing for future medical bills, and facing health insurance liens. An experienced personal injury attorney could help you build a strong case under North Carolina law so you can get the compensation you deserve. 

To receive full compensation after a car accident requires showing several things: 

  • The other driver was negligent 
  • Their negligent actions caused your injuries or damages 
  • Evidence supporting your claim 

Missteps in these three key components could cost you in recovering your losses, so let’s explore each of them more closely. 

The Other Driver’s Actions Were Negligent 

Negligence is the failure to act in a safe manner with the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the same circumstances. A driver that didn’t pay attention to traffic, obey posted speed limits, or take any actions to avoid a crash could be negligent. 

Collecting information to prove negligence can include conducting investigations, consulting experts, and combing through reports. An experienced car accident attorney knows where to look for answers that coincide with North Carolina’s legal standards. 

RELATED: How an Attorney Can Help Preserve Evidence in Your Injury Case 

Their Negligent Actions Caused Your Damages 

In order to get full compensation for your losses, you must show that the other driver’s negligence and your injuries are reasonably connected to each other. You might have an easier time saying a spinal injury immediately after an accident came from the crash. You might have a harder time showing the connection to a reaggravated injury or delayed diagnosis. 

You’ll Need to Show Evidence of Medical Bills and Other Losses 

Medical bills and vehicle damage are often linked to personal injury claims, but they might only be the beginning. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand how to establish and prove the damages in your claim. 

What Can a Personal Injury Claim Cover? 

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Personal injury claims cover the costs, or losses, from an accident. Known as “damages,” the medical bills, lost wages, physical injuries, pain and suffering, and property loss make up the components of a claim.  

Economic Damages 

The amount of money that an auto accident costs, from bills to missed income to future costs, plays a part in a personal injury claim: 

  • Medical bills like emergency care and surgeries 
  • Ongoing medications and physical therapy 
  • Home and vehicle accessibility upgrades 
  • Lost wages and earnings potential 
  • Car repairs or replacement 

These financial costs can quickly add up after a car accident, and keeping track of all of them will likely help support your claim. 

Non-economic Damages 

Claims also go beyond the type of losses that can be shown by a medical bill or receipt. Mental anguish and physical pain from a car accident include pain and suffering damages to a personal injury claim. This calculation is much more complicated than adding up financial costs but can hold a high monetary value. Pain and suffering can include a range of difficulties: 

  • Physical pain from injuries 
  • Anxiety or depression  
  • Panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Loss of companionship, enjoyment, or happiness 

Punitive Damages 

While economic and non-economic car accident damages compensate you for costs, punitive damages are a form of punishment for the defendant for malicious or extremely reckless actions. This category can include behaviors like drunk driving. 

How Does North Carolina View Fault in Drivers? 

An auto accident settlement isn’t guaranteed if you’ve experienced damages. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. This term means that if you share any fault for the accident, you can’t get compensation for any of your losses.  

Even if the other driver was 99% to blame for the accident, that still leaves you unable to pursue a personal injury claim. When the slightest tip of the scale can cost you compensation, it’s another reason to turn to an experienced legal team to help navigate contributory negligence. 

RELATED: Why Contributory Negligence Matters for Your Personal Injury Case 

Why Does the Insurance Company Matter in a Personal Injury Claim?

Most defendants don’t have the money to personally cover damages which is why insurance coverage often plays an important role. But if a driver can’t cover the cost and isn’t insured, then your insurance could come into play. There are a few policies and coverage limits that could decide how much you can recover financially: 

  • Liability insurance of the defendant 
  • Your Med Pay insurance policy 
  • Your uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage 

Reduced Offer After a Car Crash 

When an insurance company makes an offer, it doesn’t necessarily have to be fair. Instead, it’s often the first step of the negotiation process. Knowing what your claim is worth becomes even more important when the insurance company makes a settlement offer that is far below a reasonable amount.  

An insurance company could look at your medical records and place a much lower value on the losses than you do or argue that some damages have nothing to do with the claim. The adjuster could say a treatment wasn’t necessary or that a reinjury isn’t their responsibility. 

If you can’t arrive at an agreement with the insurance company, it might be time to file a lawsuit to take your case to trial. This step is a rare circumstance, but sometimes it’s necessary to get a fair settlement. 

Arguments Involving Contributory Negligence 

While you want to work toward a stronger car accident settlement at trial, an insurance company could try to devalue your claim completely. If they prove you shared blame for the accident, they’ll be off the hook for paying damages. 

Representing a strong claim and showing you didn’t share fault in the accident become vital to receiving a fair recovery. 

Myers Law Firm Can Work With You on Your Car Accident Settlement

Building a claim, finding supporting evidence, and defending your compensation are key parts of getting help after a car accident, but it’s extremely difficult to do on your own. Knowing the steps to take within the letter of North Carolina personal injury law can require the help of an experienced personal injury team. 

Myers Law Firm has over 60 years of combined experience standing up for injured people in North Carolina. We’re here to help you navigate the complex and stressful process that leads to a fair settlement to help with your losses after an auto accident. 

We offer a free and confidential discussion about your claim to help you understand what to do next. Schedule your consultation so we can get to know you and your case. Call our office at 888-376-2889 or fill out our brief online contact form today. 


American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Spinal Cord Injury. Neurological Conditions and Treatments. Retrieved from https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Spinal-Cord-Injury  

Mayo Clinic. Whiplash. Patient Care & Health Information. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/whiplash/symptoms-causes/syc-20378921#:~:text=Whiplash%20is%20a%20neck%20injury,traumas%2C%20such%20as%20a%20fall  

Mayo Clinic. Traumatic brain injury. Patient Care & Health Information. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20378557  

National Safety Council. Motor Vehicle Injury Facts. NSC Injury Facts. Retrieved from https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/introduction/  


The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

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