One of the most recent examples of a large car accident settlement was comedian Tracy Morgan’s 2017 settlement with Walmart.
Three years earlier, a Walmart truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with Morgan’s vehicle. The impact killed one person in the car and left Morgan with a severe brain injury. All settlement documents are confidential, so the true settlement figures are a mystery. It was widely reported that Morgan and the other crash victims received $90 million, a claim that his lawyer denied.
Incidentally, I recently saw Morgan perform. It was great to see he was healthy enough to go back on the road. But he had gained weight, his bubbly personality was sullen, and he used a set list to remember what jokes he’d told. My guess is if he had a choice between the money and his old life, he’d take his old life in a heartbeat.
Obviously, not all victims receive that much money, or even nearly that much money. In fact, according to multiple sources, the average car crash settlement in 2020 was about $25,000. Most likely, many of these victims gave into insurance company pressure and signed waivers before they reached out to lawyers. As a result, they settled their claims for pennies on the dollar.
All vehicle collision settlements include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other economic (out-of-pocket) damages.
The “average” hospital stay costs about $3,000 per day. This figure is more than twice that high in many states. Furthermore, if the medical staff does anything other than read your chart and change your IV, hospital costs are immense.
Medical bills include more than hospital bills. They also include follow-up care, prescription drugs, medical devices, and physical therapy. Frequently, these costs are almost as high as the hospital bill.
Lost wages are usually difficult to determine. Most recovering victims have good days and bad days. On good days, they can make it to work, but their productivity is limited. On bad days, they can’t make it out of bed.
Economic damages also include probable future medical expenses and lost wages. Unless the settlement properly accounts for these items, the victim may be financially responsible for them.
Generally, a different insurance company division handles property damage claims, like vehicle repair or replacement. Insurance adjusters quickly approve the cheapest fix at the cheapest body shop, but they almost never approve a reasonably necessary repair or replacement.
Intangible losses include compensation for things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life. These losses are very subjective. How does one put a price tag on an activity like walking up a flight of stairs without pain?
As a starting point, most attorneys multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four to determine a claim’s settlement value. Truthfully, very few claimants get all the money they ask for. When was the last time you sold a used car and got the full asking price?
Fortunately, attorneys are professional negotiators. They know when to compromise and when to stand firm. The result is usually maximum compensation for your serious injuries. Educate yourself with our accident settlement guide and calculator . Don’t wait to get the compensation you deserve.