Car Accident Lawsuit Settlement: Factors Affecting the Compensation Amount

Car Accident Lawsuit Settlement - Factors Affecting the Compensation Amount

Car accidents across the US are on the rise. As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 19,515 civilians died in road crashes in the first quarter of 2023. Then, the National Safety Council revealed that 3,740 fatalities occurred in December 2023 alone.

In cases with no fatalities, those involved may suffer from minor or severe injuries. These injuries can take the form of paralysis, disability, brain trauma, severe lacerations or burns, broken bones, etc. Victims or their families (in the case of the deceased) can secure compensation from the liable party’s insurance company.

The main problem is that insurers are rarely willing to pay fair money. When no resolution is achieved, the case goes into the courtroom. Once it does, it’s natural to wonder how long a settlement would take. In this article, we will answer this question by discussing factors that affect the litigation timeline.

Insurance Coverage

Most US states have made it mandatory for a driver to have liability insurance coverage. When the policyholder is at fault in an accident, the insurer pays out relevant compensation. This is good, but there are certain limitations involved.

Let’s use an example to understand this scenario better. We’ll consider the otherwise vibrant city of Colorado Springs. As the state’s second-most populated city, Colorado Springs has its fair share of road accidents. Some of its most dangerous roads include West Cimarron Street, North Academy Boulevard, and intersections along I-25.

If an accident were to occur here, the victim can approach the liable party’s insurer because Colorado is not a no-fault state. However, the insurance company will only cover damage costs up to the policy’s limits. Anything in excess will not be paid.

Moreover, insurers do not easily agree to fair compensation. In any case, it may be difficult to recover money for additional damages. The victim can contact a Colorado Springs personal injury attorney to secure additional compensation.

Severity of Injuries

The severity of injuries is the next factor determining the compensation amount and timeline. According to the Springs Law Group, If the victim succumbed to their injuries, their family may file a wrongful death lawsuit. They would be eligible to recover expenses like funeral and burial charges, lost wages, compensation for loss of parental guidance or spousal companionship, etc.

In case the victim survived but their injuries were debilitating, like paralysis or broken ribs, they will be eligible to receive compensation for medical care, lost income, emotional pain, and punitive damages (if applicable).

In terms of the injuries, the more severe cases will receive larger settlements. For instance – the compensation for a traumatic brain injury would be higher than that for a broken arm. However, the severity of injuries does drag the timeline of the litigation further.


The financial recovery from a car accident also depends upon the extent of fault or liability of the parties involved. In other words, if the victim is completely free of fault and the entire burden falls on the defendant, the former will be eligible to recover 100% of the damage-related costs.

However, if the victim shares in the responsibility, the compensation will be reduced to that extent. The victim will be considered liable or at fault if –

  • They failed to practice a reasonable amount of care while driving.
  • Their indiscretion or negligence was the direct cause of the accident.
  • They were drunk, distracted while driving, did not follow the traffic rules, or failed to maintain blind spots.

In such cases, the court will practice comparative negligence. For instance – suppose a state recognizes the 50% bar rule. Then, the victim will not be eligible to recover all damages if the court discovers that they were 50% or more at fault.

State Laws

Some US states like Michigan, Florida, and New York practice the no-fault insurance law. In other words, drivers cruising across these states must rely on their insurance coverage to cover their accident injuries.

Only after their coverage is exhausted can they file a claim with the liable party’s insurer for additional coverage. In fault states, the driver responsible for the crash is always held responsible and must cover the cost of damages via insurance. This includes even relatively minor crashes.

Finally, the extent of the victim’s financial loss will also play a key role in determining the compensation amount. This means if their vehicle suffered damage due to the crash, the victim will be compensated for it.

As for the exact settlement timeline, it may vary on a case-to-case basis. Settling a claim is always the ideal because that way, the case resolves quickly. However, if the case proceeds to court, there’s no telling how long it would take – anywhere between several months and a few years in some cases.