Personal Injury Settlement Guide and Examples (2024)

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


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Only one personal injury case out of 20 will go to trial. Most cases instead are resolved through an agreed settlement. In this guide, we’ll explain how personal injury settlements work and how you can determine your case settlement value.

How Personal Injury Settlements Work

A personal injury case can be resolved with a settlement at any stage - even before a lawsuit has been filed. The settlement is an agreement not to continue the case. Usually, this means that the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff to stop pursuing the case. If you are the person who has been injured, then you are the plaintiff and the defendant is the party responsible for your injury.

Settlements are often negotiated between lawyers representing the two parties. You can negotiate on your own behalf, but research by the Insurance Research Council has shown that plaintiffs represented by a personal injury lawyer receive settlements valued 3.5 times higher than those who settle on their own.

Once a settlement is reached, payout is made according to agreed settlement payment terms.

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Personal Injury Settlement Amounts Examples: Influencing Factors

Cases that sound similar at first glance can settle for very different amounts. For example, even minor car accident settlement amounts can vary from a few thousand dollars to over one million based only on the accidents causing different types of injury.

Factors that can impact a personal injury settlement amount include:

  • Injury severity. Injuries that are more severe or have a lasting impact on your ability to navigate daily life activities are more likely to result in a higher settlement.
  • Cost of recovery. The expected time it will take for you to fully recover from your injuries is also considered when determining a fair settlement value.
  • Non-economic damages. Psychological damage like pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify into a clear value, though insurance companies and lawyers usually follow agreed formulas to decide on a fair settlement offer.
  • Clear liability. Do the parties both acknowledge who is at fault? If the defendant is clearly at fault, then they are more likely to offer a higher settlement to avoid losing even more in a trial verdict.
  • Insurance limits. In car accident settlements, and others where insurance is likely to pay for the settlement, the value can be impacted by the policy limits.
  • Litigation costs. Most defense lawyers charge their clients on an hourly basis. That means that the defendant in your case faces growing legal fees the longer the case continues. Settling for a higher value now may be seen as a money savings in the long-term.
  • Reputation damage. If the defendant is a business, such as in a slip and fall accident case, they may be more likely to settle to avoid the embarrassment from a public trial.

Personal injury lawyers have experience calculating case value while taking all of these factors into account. Fill out the form on this page to connect with a personal injury lawyer near you.

Average Personal Injury Settlement

Between 2016 and 2023, personal injury cases settled for an average settlement value of $113,391. This considers all types of personal injury cases, from car accidents to medical malpractice cases.

Million Dollar Personal Injury Settlement Examples

Personal injury settlements in the millions are not the norm, but circumstances can lead to this outcome. Here are a few examples of cases that resulted in million dollar settlements:

  • A New Jersey man received $25 million after a resort boat accident left him paralyzed. The driving factor in this case was the victim’s high earnings potential. This led to the parties placing a high value on his lost wages.
  • A driver in a serious car accident in Florida recovered $1.6 million from the defendant driver who caused the crash by making an illegal left turn. The driver suffered extensive injuries that required surgery and rehabilitation.
  • A man driving to work in New Mexico was struck and killed in a head-on crash with a commercial truck. The case settled shortly before trial to pay $48.5 million to the family of the deceased driver.

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Formula For Calculating Personal Injury Settlements

Insurance adjusters and personal injury lawyers often rely on a formula for determining their opening settlement offer. The formula adds up medical expenses and then multiplies that number by something between 1.5 and 5 times. This is intended to give a range of reasonable settlement value that considers real medical costs and the harder to pinpoint psychological damages.

For example, imagine John was injured in a car accident and required medical treatment totalling $2,000. No ongoing treatment was necessary. Following the formula, a likely settlement offer would be between $3,000 and $10,000.

Settlements can still be influenced by the factors discussed above, and not all cases will be evaluated with this formula. Speaking with a lawyer is the best way to get a realistic settlement value for your case. Fill out the form on this page to get help with your case today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • You are not required to report personal injury settlements in your gross income on your taxes in most cases. Exceptions that are commonly taxable are lost wages and punitive damages. Speak with a personal injury lawyer to learn more about how personal injury settlements are treated in your state.

  • According to a study by the National Center for State Courts, tort cases (which include personal injury) take an average of 486 days to resolve. Many factors can influence the time it takes for a case to settle, such as how accurately your damages can be estimated and how eager the parties are to settle. Lawyers with experience in these cases often suggest between three months and 18 months as a realistic time to settle.

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