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How Much Is a Workers' Comp Car Crash Settlement?

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A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
April 30, 2024  ·  5 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.

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Delivery drivers, truck drivers, construction workers, mail carriers, and countless other careers require workers to drive on the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 102,000 workers experienced vehicle-related injuries in 2022, 42% of whom missed at least three weeks of work as a result.1 The CDC also reports that car crashes are a leading cause of work-related deaths across the country.2

If you were in a car crash while working and you have injuries that leave you unable to do your job, you could qualify for workers’ compensation and possibly receive a settlement worth almost $100,000.


The average workers' comp settlement for a car crash

Settlements for workers involved in a motor vehicle accident average $89,152 according to data from the National Safety Council (NSC). That total consists of $49,395 to cover medical care plus $39,757 as an indemnity payment from the insurance company.3

While these numbers are only averages, vehicle-related injuries do lead to some of the largest workers’ comp payouts. Since injuries from a car crash tend to be more severe and affect multiple parts of the body, workers often require significant time out of work to fully recover.


Why your car crash settlement could be higher

How much you can settle for depends on how severe your injuries are, which body parts are affected, and the extent to which your injuries interfere with your ability to carry out your job duties.

Generally, the more work you need to miss, the larger your settlement will be. Since recovery is usually longer for older individuals, they often get more than younger workers after an injury. Requiring more medical care will also increase the value of your claim. For example, claims that require surgery tend to settle for more. Sustaining multiple injuries at once can also complicate your recovery, allowing you to negotiate a higher settlement.

Learn more about the average settlements for different types of injuries.

Settle your workers' comp claim today.

Does a car crash always qualify for workers’ comp?

Car crashes only qualify for workers’ compensation if the crash happened as a result of doing your job. For example, that could include driving your standard delivery route, driving to meet a client, refueling a company vehicle, or traveling for work.

Driving home from the office or driving to the gym during your lunch break won’t qualify. Accidents that result from breaking the law, like driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, will also be difficult to get benefits for.

At the same time, workers’ comp is a no-fault system. It doesn’t matter whether you caused the accident or were hit by someone else. Fault will matter for auto insurance, but it won’t affect workers’ comp eligibility.

Learn more about the types of injuries that qualify for workers’ comp.


Who qualifies for workers’ comp?

Any employee qualifies for workers’ compensation as long as their employer offers coverage. Almost all employers in the U.S. are required by law to have workers’ comp insurance if they employ multiple workers. Texas and South Dakota employers are key exceptions, though some companies in those states still offer benefits.

Unfortunately, you won’t qualify for workers’ comp if you’re an independent contractor, gig worker, freelancer, or self-employed worker. (Read more about who does and doesn’t qualify.)


When does workers’ comp offer a settlement for a car crash?

Workers who’ve been in a car crash don’t automatically receive a settlement through workers’ comp. The insurance company will most commonly look to settle if you’ll be out of work for a long time or the expected recovery for your injuries is unpredictable.

In particular, settlements frequently happen around the time you reach maximum medical improvement. Also called MMI, it’s the point where you’ve recovered as much as you can from medical treatment but still haven’t returned to your pre-injury condition or abilities. Benefits transition to long-term (permanent disability) benefits at MMI, and insurers would prefer to close out your case with a one-time payment than continue lost wage and medical benefits for months or years more.

Read more about when workers’ comp typically offers a settlement.


What you should do if you get a settlement offer

You can respond in one of three ways if the insurance company offers to settle after your car accident:

  1. Accept the settlement offer.

  2. Reject the offer to continue workers’ comp benefits.

  3. Negotiate a better settlement.

While any of these could be the right choice for you, negotiating is usually the best choice. Especially for high-cost injuries, the insurance company will try to save as much money as it can by offering you the minimum settlement. Since that minimum is rarely enough to cover the true cost of your recovery, you’ll want to ask for more.

How much you should seek from a settlement isn’t straightforward, though. Your goal is to get enough to pay for current and future medical care, cover future lost wages for missed work time, plus factor in the miscellaneous costs you may have.

The last thing you want is to sign a settlement agreement, only to find out in two years that it wasn’t enough to cover all your bills. That’s why we recommend getting professional help from a workers’ comp lawyer. An experienced local lawyer has negotiated similar deals, so they’ll be able to estimate how much you need and then push insurance to offer you a fairer deal.

As an example of the difference a lawyer makes, the average settlement with an Atticus lawyer is double what people get when negotiating a settlement on their own.

Related: What Does a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Do That I Can’t


How much workers’ comp pays if you don’t settle

If you don’t settle, workers’ comp in most states pays up to two-thirds of your average pre-injury wages until you reach MMI. (Check your state payment rates.) Then permanent benefits kick in, though they may be worth less and how long they last depends on which part of your body was injured, the disability rating you receive from the workers’ comp doctor, and state-specific rules.

The insurer will also cover medical bills you incur while recovering from your crash. Eligible expenses include everything from copays and prescription medication to physical therapy and surgical procedures.

Further reading: How Long Workers’ Comp Lasts in Every State.


Other possible benefits after a car crash

If you were injured in a car crash that was caused by another driver, you may also qualify for a settlement through a personal injury (PI) case. This would be a suit you file against the responsible party but is independent of a workers’ comp case. As a first step, file for workers’ compensation to prevent missing out on those benefits. Then you can also consider a PI case.

Atticus can also help with personal injury cases. After sharing the details of your workers’ comp case, our team will reach out to learn more and can give more information about representation for a PI case.


Do you need a workers’ comp lawyer?

You don’t need to have a workers’ comp lawyer to file a claim or receive benefits, but having one can increase your odds of getting the full benefits you’re entitled to.

Insurance will assign a claims adjuster to manage your case, but the adjuster is ultimately an employee of the insurer and likely doesn’t have your best interests in mind. A lawyer, on the other hand, is hired to be your advocate and will fight to make sure insurance is giving you the medical care and payments that you deserve. In some states, like California, you may not even have the ability to request medical exams from independent medical providers unless you have a lawyer.

Reputable workers’ compensation lawyers will also offer a free initial consultation and won’t ask for upfront payment. That means it costs nothing to get started and you won’t have to pay anything until after you settle. If they don’t help you get a settlement, you don’t have to pay.

Atticus is a law firm with workers’ comp lawyers across the country. To get your questions answered and connect with a lawyer in your area today, fill out this workers’ comp questionnaire or call us at the number below.

Get workers' comp help today.

Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp car crash injuries

Who qualifies for workers’ comp?

Most full-time and part-time workers can qualify for workers’ comp, but independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers don’t usually qualify.

Can a car crash qualify for workers’ comp?

If the injuries that result from your car crash are serious enough that you need to miss work while you recover — and you quickly report any injuries to your employer — you could qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Here’s how long you have to report a work injury in your state.

How much will my settlement after a car crash?

The average workers’ comp settlement after a car crash is just over $89,000 nationally. You could get much more depending on your situation, though. If you want to maximize your settlement, contact a workers’ comp attorney.

Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?

It depends on your personal situation. Negotiating is best in many cases, but we recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision. They can help you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other bills while you’re out of work.

Will surgery increase my workers’ comp settlement?

More medical care generally leads to higher-value workers' comp claims. In particular, surgery can lead to a bigger settlement if it requires a long recovery, it doesn’t improve your symptoms, or it leads to complications. Learn more in our article about surgery and workers' comp settlements.

Will I pay tax on my workers’ comp settlement?

No. Workers’ compensation settlements aren’t taxable, with only very rare exceptions.

What if I can’t return to work after the car crash?

You may qualify for permanent workers' compensation benefits or long-term benefits through a federal program like SSDI. Learn more about your options if you can’t return to work after an injury or illness.

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Related resources:

How Much a Workers' Comp Lawyer Costs

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

5 Common Questions About Workers' Comp Lawyers

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

See what you qualify for

How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?

References

  1. 1.
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities,” U.S. Department of Labor, accessed January 26, 2024, https://www.bls.gov/iif/.
  2. 2.
    Traumatic Occupational Injuries,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , last modified July 26, 2022, accessed April 30, 2024, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/injury/fastfacts.html.
  3. 3.
    Workers’ Compensation Costs,” National Safety Council, accessed April 30, 2024, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/workers-compensation-costs/.
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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