Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 6, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • If you are involved in a car accident, you may be entitled to a settlement for both injuries you sustained and damage done to your vehicle.
  • For damage done to your vehicle in a car accident, the value of your vehicle and the cost of any repairs will determine your settlement.
  • In most states, it matters which driver was at fault in terms of how you will recover for your medical damages and any vehicle damages.
  • The key to resolving the settlement process is having clear documentation of your damages and being diligent in your negotiations.

Immediately after the car accident itself, the settlement process for filing and resolving your claim begins. A fair settlement for an auto accident is determined by a number of factors, including fault and policy limits.

How do auto insurance settlements work? It depends on the auto insurance laws in your state. In all but 12 states in the country, the process for filing and settling your claim will depend on which driver caused the accident.

In the other states, there is a no-fault system, which means that your medical expenses are filed through your own insurance company.

What is a fair insurance settlement from a car accident? Read on to find out more and enter your ZIP code above to compare car insurance rates from the top companies in your area today.

Filing a Claim After an Auto Accident to Begin the Settlement Process

In general, the way that the settlement process begins is by you filing a claim immediately after an accident.

If you have sustained serious injuries, filing a claim immediately may not be possible, but you should do so as soon as you are able.

Keep in mind that you may forfeit your right to recover for any damages if you delay too long putting the insurance company on notice that you have been injured in an accident.

For any damages to be recovered from a personal injury, you will file against the other driver’s insurance company if they were at fault for the car accident.

According to III, there are 12 states, in addition to Puerto Rico, that don’t have no-fault insurance systems in place. If you happen to live in one of the 12 states that have no-fault insurance systems, you can actually file against your own insurance company initially to recover for medical expenses up to a certain threshold amount.

If your medical damages exceed this threshold amount, then you would move on to try to recover against the other driver’s insurance company or the other driver personally.

This may require litigation, especially if there is a dispute over which driver was actually at fault for the accident.

If you are trying to recover for damages done to your car, then you will want to clearly document the evidence of damage to your vehicle and begin collecting estimates for repair costs.

In this case, the insurance company may send out a claims adjuster to inspect the condition of the vehicle and assess a reasonable cost for repairing the damages.

If your vehicle is damaged in a no-fault state, you actually file against the other driver’s insurance company because this system only applies to medical damages from an accident.

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Evaluating the Extent of Your Losses from an Auto Accident

Typical car accident settlement amounts can differ based on specific damages, so the first step in figuring out whether the settlement offer you receive is fair after an accident is assessing the actual amount of the damages you sustained.

How much will I get for pain and suffering from a car accident? While it may be easy to total the amount of any out-of-pocket medical expenses you may have, it gets trickier to determine the value of any pain and suffering after an accident.

It’s worth noting that, in some cases, the average settlement for a car accident back and neck injury can be low, depending on the severity of the injuries. Car accident injury settlement amounts can differ greatly based on exactly how badly you were hurt.

Remember that you can also recover for loss of wages from your job, but this amount is also typically easy to calculate based on your average salary or wages.

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you may have a long road to recovery.

This could be a life-changing event that alters your ability to perform many daily tasks.

Assuming the other driver was the cause of the accident and your injuries, you may be entitled to recover for your pain and suffering arising out of injuries from the accident. This can be a big factor when determining car accident settlement payouts.

However, this is not necessarily an easy number to arrive at because it depends on many individual factors. It will also likely depend on analysis from medical experts, which is typically in the form of expert testimony at a personal injury trial.

Even if you begin negotiating the claim settlement process on your own, you may ultimately decide that having a lawyer represent your interests is the best way to ensure you are getting a proper settlement offer.

If you anticipate that there will be a dispute over the relative liability of the parties to an accident, this is typically a scenario in which you should engage an attorney. An attorney may also be able to provide car accident settlement examples.

Remember that consulting with an attorney and having him represent your interests does not necessarily mean the case will end up in court.

Problems Negotiating with Your Own Auto Insurance Company

Every insurance company knows that it has an obligation to negotiate in good faith with its policyholders for a claim.

If your auto insurance company does not offer to settle your claim up to the policy limits of your coverage, this may be grounds for a bad-faith claim against your insurance company.

A good resource for exploring options for a bad-faith claim against your car insurance company is always your state department of insurance.

Make sure that any communications with the auto insurance company are done in writing to the extent that is possible.

You want to be able to preserve a record of any unreasonable actions by your car insurance company.

It is important that you can trust your car insurance company in the claims process.

This is why price should not be your only consideration in choosing a car insurance company after getting multiple quotes. Take a look at J.D. Power and NAIC compaint ratio data for some top companies below.

Best Auto Insurance Companies: J.D. Power Ratings and Complaint Ratios
Insurance Company Overall Satisfaction of Shopping Experience
(J.D. Power Rating)
Overall Satisfaction of Claims Process
(J.D. Power Rating)
Complaint Ratios
(Lower or Higher than National Average of 1.15)
Allstate3 Power Circles
(about average)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
0.64
(Lower)
American Family4 Power Circles
(better than most)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
0.70
(Lower)
Farmers3 Power Circles
(about average)
4 Power Circles
(better than most)
0.97
(Lower)
GEICO3 Power Circles
(about average)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
0.92
(Lower)
Liberty Mutual3 Power Circles
(about average)
2 Power Circles
(the rest)
6.32
(Higher)
Nationwide2 Power Circles
(the rest)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
0.36
(Lower)
Progressive3 Power Circles
(about average)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
0.89
(Lower)
State Farm3 Power Circles
(about average)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
0.57
(Lower)
Travelers3 Power Circles
(about average)
3 Power Circles
(about average)
1.27
(Higher)
USAA
(Military &
Family Members)
4 Power Circles
(better than most)
5 Power Circles
(among the best)
1.14
(Lower)
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USAA and Farmers rank the best for claims satisfaction.

Recap on Getting a Fair Settlement for an Auto Accident Claim

The amount you’re entitled to recover from an accident depends on the specific injuries you sustained and the amount of damage to your car.

If you think you’re not getting a fair settlement for your car accident, speaking with a personal injury attorney can help to expedite the resolution of your claim. Some attorneys may even provide a car accident settlement calculator that use an auto accident settlement formula.

Find a car insurance company you can trust to give you a fair settlement if you have a claim. Enter your ZIP code below to compare car insurance companies in your area.