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As personal injury attorneys, we are often asked, What is the average settlement for car accident back and neck injury cases? The truth is there is no precise average because every case is unique. While there is no set formula for calculating how much a car accident neck and back injury settlement amount might be, there are several factors that insurance companies and the courts alike will consider. Our Indiana car accident attorneys can assess your case and help you estimate what you might be able to anticipate in a neck and back injury settlement.

Average Settlement for a Back and Neck Injury from a Car Accident

Back and Neck Injury Settlement Amounts

If you or someone you loved recently suffered a neck or back injury in a car wreck, there are a handful of factors that will influence the outcome of your claim:

  • The severity of the accident itself;
  • The nature and severity of your injuries;
  • Your age, medical history, and whether you have any pre-existing conditions;
  • Medical costs to date;
  • Anticipated future medical expenses;
  • Lost income;
  • Negative impact on your ability to earn a living;
  • Any intangible losses such as pain and suffering;
  • Applicable insurance policy limits; 
  • Who the defendants are, how many defendants there are; and
  • Applicable Indiana state law.

Upon meeting with your attorney, you can review these factors together to determine an estimated settlement in your case. Your answers will influence how much or how little you anticipate receiving. For example, suppose you were involved in a serious crash that totaled your vehicle and caused severe and permanent back injuries requiring extensive medical care. In that case, your settlement is likely much more than that of someone involved in a minor fender bender who suffered only mild, temporary whiplash.

Although almost all personal injury cases are settled, a judge or jury will utilize these factors if your case proceeds to trial.

Types of Damages Factored into a Settlement

Generally, two types of damages are available to an Indiana plaintiff in a car accident settlement. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages compensate a plaintiff for the actual losses incurred due to their injuries. They are relatively easy to determine based on receipts, bills, invoices, and estimates. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle repair or replacement costs.

Noneconomic Damages

On the other hand, noneconomic damages are more challenging to estimate because they are subjective to each individual. These damages include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

Punitive Damages

Should your car accident case not settle, the court may award a third type of damages. Punitive damages punish an extraordinarily negligent or reckless defendant for their conduct. Because punitive damages are not meant to compensate a victim but rather punish the liable party, they are generally not available in a settlement. Importantly, in Indiana, there are caps on the damages that can be awarded.

How Much Is the Average Settlement for a Back Injury with Surgery vs. Without Surgery?

While a car accident settlement will consider a dozen or so factors, including past and future medical costs and needs, one, in particular, can substantially influence your potential settlement: surgery.

A good indicator of where your case may lie is whether your back or neck injury requires surgery.

Neck and Back Injury Settlements with Surgery

It comes as no surprise that any surgery costs a great deal of money. Neck and back surgeries are some of the most expensive and extensive procedures, so it is no wonder that a settlement will be significantly higher if your injuries necessitate surgeries. 

Economic damages are intended to compensate an injured plaintiff for their medical expenses and out-of-pocket costs relating to their injury.  

The reason back and neck injuries requiring surgical repair result in higher settlements is twofold. First, the actual surgery and related medical treatment costs can be well into six or even seven figures. Surgery also requires pre-surgical testing and diagnostics, physical and occupational therapy, rehabilitation, pharmaceutical medication, chiropractic care, and more. Because surgery quickly snowballs into a variety of other treatments that back and neck injuries require, the potential settlement can be significantly higher than non-surgery injuries. 

Second, severe neck and back injuries are more likely to render you unable to work for an extended amount of time. It is a lengthy recovery that can keep you out of work for weeks, months, or even years. This extensive recovery may mean you can no longer participate in daily social and household activities, leading to an increase in noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Car Accident Settlements Without Back or Neck Surgery

You might be reading this and thinking your injury does not require surgical repair and wondering if it is still worth pursuing a claim, and the answer is a resounding yes. Many neck and back injuries are severe and even permanent and do not require surgical repair. For instance, even soft tissue back injury settlement amounts can be substantial even if surgical repair is not an option. Unfortunately, many neck and back injuries cannot be repaired or treated with surgery but are nonetheless severe and still entitled to compensation.

Types of Neck and Back Injuries

Many types of neck and back injuries can result from a car accident, all with varying degrees of severity. Some are minor and will resolve with rest and time, while others are severe and permanent and can require significant medical intervention. These injuries include: 

  • Whiplash,
  • Strains and sprains,
  • Herniated discs,
  • Slipped or ruptured discs,
  • Spinal fractures,
  • Spinal cord injuries, and
  • Paralysis.

You might even suffer from more than one injury. Your neck or back injury will surely disrupt your life regardless of the severity. You should always seek legal guidance to identify your options.

Indiana Car Accident Attorneys

In 2024, the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys named Gerling Law one of the 10 Best Law Firms based on client satisfaction. We take pride in providing personalized, professional, and expert representation to each of our clients. If you suffered a neck or back injury in an Indiana car accident, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact us today to schedule a compassionate, no-cost case evaluation.

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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