Car accidents can be traumatic, bringing about devastating consequences. Where the victims suffer serious injuries, the wounds, visible and invisible, may stay with victims for years to come. Families who lose a loved one in a car accident may never truly heal.
Car accident settlements are a way for victims and the at-fault party to resolve the case without the trials and tribulations of a lawsuit. The amount of the settlement often reflects the severity of the injury—physically and psychologically—and the defendant’s conduct. The biggest car accident settlements typically involve traumatic, irreversible harms, or defendants whose conduct is shocking.
When it comes to negotiating USA car accident settlements, there’s no substitute for the advice and advocacy of a car accident attorney. At Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C., we provide our clients with personalized and polished legal representation at all stages of the process. Please note that the cases discussed in this blog are not Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C. cases but case settlements from around the USA. We can not guarantee the same results.
What Are the Biggest Car Accident Settlements and Jury Awards?
So what are some of the biggest car accident settlements and jury awards?
2019 North Dakota Car Accident Results in $1 Billion Dollar Jury Award
In 2019, a North Dakota jury awarded $1 billion dollars in damages in a car accident that left two young women (aged 21 and 22) dead and another young woman (aged 21) with a severe traumatic brain injury. The defendant, Jordan Morsette’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.
2020 Florida Car Accident Results in a $412 Million Dollar Jury Award
Veteran Duane Washington received a 2020 jury award of $412 million dollars for a horrific, 45-car pileup car accident that left Washington with traumatic injuries. The accident resulted in life-altering damage, causing Washington to lose the ability to walk without assistive crutches and complete loss of sexual function.
2014 Seattle Car Accident Involving a Helicopter Results in a $40 Million Dollar Settlement in 2018
In 2014, a KOMO news helicopter, flown by a pilot with less than five hours of training, spiraled out of control, landing on Richard Newman’s car. Shortly after impact, the helicopter exploded, killing an anchorman and photojournalist inside the helicopter and causing Newman’s car to catch fire. Newman suffered unimaginable injuries such as full-body burns, broken ribs, and compression spine fractures. Because of the burn injuries, he can no longer regulate his own body temperature and cannot be exposed to sunlight.
Nearby, Guillermo Sanchez was in his truck when he saw the helicopter crash land on Newman’s car and explode in downtown Seattle. Sanchez managed to leave his car and escape the full force of the debris projected at his truck. But he suffered shoulder and ankle injuries, also requiring ongoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. He saw the familiar faces of the anchorman and photojournalist through the window of the helicopter as they burned alive in the inferno.
In 2018, in the middle of the lawsuit, Sanchez, Newman, and KOMO agreed to settle the case for $40 Million Dollars.
Deceased Plaintiff’s Family Receives a $37.3 Million Dollar Settlement from Caltrans for 2020 California Car Accident
Kyle Anderson’s family received a $37.3 million dollar car accident settlement from the California Transportation Department. In August 2011, a vehicle struck and killed Anderson while he was on the job as a road worker. Caltrans was liable in part for his death because they refused to close a lane of traffic to help the workers safely carry out their jobs. Had Caltrans simply given the go-ahead to temporarily close one traffic lane, Anderson might still be alive today.
Texas Man Receives a $26 Million Dollar Settlement in 2018 from Troy Construction, Inc.
A Texas man, Jose Lara Sanchez, his wife, and his two children received a $26 million dollar settlement from Jonathan Cunningham and Troy Construction, Inc. for a 2010 crash that left Jose incapacitated. At the time of the settlement, Jose incurred over $1 million dollars in hospital bills and argued that he required lifelong medical care because of the injuries. Troy Construction hired a company to conduct video surveillance of Sanchez interacting with his friends and family. Troy Construction unsuccessfully disputed his claim for ongoing medical care, using the video surveillance as evidence that Sanchez could walk unassisted. Fortunately for Sanchez and his family, they received the settlement despite Troy Construction’s attempts to undermine their claim.
Skylar Steward Receives a $28 Million Dollar Settlement from Washington State for a Crash That Left Her Paralyzed from the Waist Down
Steward was a passenger in a vehicle when it swerved, crashing into a concrete support pillar on the side of the highway. Standard practices require that the state install a barrier or shield to ensure that cars do not crash into the support pillars. In fact, the Washington State Department of Transportation received funding to install such barriers throughout the state and announced a plan to do so. But they didn’t follow through with their plan, resulting in unsafe road conditions. Rather than protecting vehicles from crashing into the pillars, the earth mounds surrounding the support pillars directed careening cars to crash into them. The accident left Steward, at the young age of 15, paralyzed from the waist down.
What Are the Types of Damages in USA Car Accident Settlements?
Damage awards in car accident settlements encompass three types:
- Economic damages,
- Non-economic damages, and
- Punitive damages.
Economic damages compensate victims for the financial strain of a car accident. Compared with the other types of damages, economic damages are easily quantifiable, such as medical bills and property damage repairs. They also include actual and future lost wages, as well as loss of earning capacity.
Non-economic damages compensate victims and their families for the mental and emotional cost of a car accident. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of quality of life,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Loss of relationship, and
- Permanent disfigurement.
Punitive damages, in contrast, serve to punish wrongdoers for their actions and deter them and others from committing the same or similar acts. Rarely awarded, punitive damages are appropriate in cases where the defendant acted intentionally, recklessly, or egregiously.
How Are Settlements Calculated?
Calculating car accident settlements involves taking into consideration the three types of damages we talked about before. Other factors that the parties consider include:
- The severity of the injuries;
- The circumstances leading to the car accident;
- The likelihood that the victim will recover from their injuries;
- The conduct of the at-fault party;
- The degree of fault, if any, that the victim carries for the car accident;
- The amount of damages that a jury is likely to award the victim if the case goes to trial;
- The damages awards that past plaintiffs have received in similar cases; and
- The law of the state in which the accident occurred.
Once again, punitive damages are rare and are even more unlikely to be awarded in a car accident settlement.
Lawyer Eric Steiner, M.D. at Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C., is a trained cardiac anesthesiologist. He and his team have the knowledge and experience to understand and represent clients’ medical injuries. Combining his training as an anesthesiologist with 19 years of litigation experience, he is an excellent advocate to have on your side. He’s an indispensable asset in negotiations for car accident settlements.
Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C. Helps People Maximize USA Car Accident Settlements
We pride ourselves on providing our clients with compassionate and diligent care. Our team of experienced litigators includes Attorney Eric Steiner, M.D., who practiced medicine as a cardiac anesthesiologist. We leverage our extensive litigation experience with the law and medicine to understand and effectively advocate for our clients. We are selective with the number of cases we take, to the benefit of our clients. Each case receives unrivaled personalized attention from one of our seasoned lawyers. Call us or contact us online today.