Sure, a minor crash in the Walmart parking lot probably won’t be leading the news headlines tonight. But when your car gets unexpectedly slammed with a surprise dent – and it wasn’t even your bad driving at fault – you deserve some compensation love for the hassle, right? 

It’s a myth that confusing legal jargon and insurance adjusters mean fender-benders with no major injuries don’t end in settlements. The costs definitely add up, between repair estimates, doctor visits, tacky rental cars, and missed work chasing all that down.

The truth is, even “nuisance” cases with seemingly low stakes carry legitimate bills insurance providers should make right under state laws. But companies often leverage the public assumption that no injury = no settlement to slide those nuisance offers to laughable lows. Well, we’re here to let you in on what realistic settlement ranges actually hover around.

What is Considered a “Minor” Car Accident?

Minor accidents refer to collisions that only result in property damage. This typically means damage to the vehicles involved and possibly other objects, such as guardrails or signs. 

Some characteristics of minor car accidents include:

  • No injuries or only mild soreness or bruising
  • All vehicles are drivable after the collision
  • Damage is limited to bumpers, fenders, mirrors, windows, etc.
  • Airbags do not deploy
  • Police may not be called to the scene

If a collision meets this criteria, it is considered minor. Any injuries beyond mild stiffness or bruises mean the accident is no longer a “fender bender.”

Average Settlement Amounts for Minor Car Accidents

Settlements for minor accidents generally pay out less than major collisions involving injuries. However, even a scrape or dent can be expensive to repair. According to data, the average property damage claim for a car accident settles for around $4,300 in the United States.

Keep in mind that a settlement is meant to cover all of your financial losses from the accident. For minor collisions, these losses typically include:

  • Vehicle repair or replacement costs
  • Fees for using a rental car while your car is being repaired
  • Other property damage (fences, signs, etc.)
  • Lost wages if you miss work
  • Medical expenses related to the accident

The amount that the insurance company offers as a settlement should take all of these factors into consideration. Experienced car accident lawyers in West Virginia can help you arrange a fair settlement that covers your financial losses.

Factors That Impact Settlement Amounts

While data indicates an average settlement offer will be around $4,300 for a minor accident, every case has unique factors that can increase or decrease that number. Key factors that impact the settlement amount include:

Cost of Repairs

The cost to repair damage to your car and any other property will directly impact your settlement amount. Labor and part prices vary between auto repair shops. Get a few estimates to understand the range. Keep in mind that the insurance company will typically negotiate the price down.

Rental Car Costs

If your vehicle is undrivable after the accident, find out how long repairs will take. Negotiate a reasonable estimate for rental car costs while your vehicle is inoperable. Keep receipts for actual rental expenses to submit to the insurance company.

Lost Income

Calculate your lost wages if you miss work due to the accident. Provide proof from your employer of your hourly wage or salary and the number of days you missed. Factor in lost sick or vacation time.

Type of Insurance

The insurance coverage carried by the at-fault driver will affect how much they can payout. Minimum liability insurance may cap the settlement amount, while higher policy limits allow larger settlements.

Shared Fault

In West Virginia, you can recover damages as long as you are 49% or less at fault for the accident. But your payout will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This impacts the total settlement amount.

How Are Non-Injury Settlement Amounts Determined?

Settlement amounts for non-injury crashes depend on:

  • Extent of property damage
  • Contributing factors to the accident
  • Insurance coverage limits

More serious accidents involving injuries factor in damages like medical bills, lost income, and pain/suffering. For non-injury crashes, there are fewer damages to calculate.

Why Do Non-Injury Settlements Take So Long?

Several steps are involved in reaching a car accident settlement, often lengthening the process:

  • Gathering evidence from the scene
  • Negotiations between attorneys
  • Consulting insurance adjusters
  • Complying with legal/insurance requirements

Working with an experienced attorney can help expedite settlement for a non-injury car accident.

Steps to Get a Fair Settlement

It takes some work to get full compensation after a minor car accident. Follow these steps:

  1. Call the police to get an official report filed.
  2. Take detailed photos of property damage and accident scene.
  3. Get medical attention even for minor soreness.
  4. Keep records of all expenses related to accident.
  5. Make a claim by contacting your insurance provider.
  6. Negotiate a rental car.
  7. Get at least 2-3 repair estimates.
  8. Calculate lost wages from missed work.
  9. Hire an experienced attorney to handle negotiations.

An attorney can deal with the insurance company and make sure you are fully compensated for every loss. Do not settle for less than you deserve. With an experienced car accident lawyer in your corner, you can get a fair settlement in West Virginia.

When to Consider a Lawsuit

Most minor accident claims settle out of court. However, if the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, your attorney may recommend filing a car accident lawsuit. This is more likely if:

  • There is a dispute over who was at fault
  • The insurance company denies your claim outright
  • Your losses exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits
  • Settlement negotiations reach an impasse

Lawsuits come with costs, extra time, and uncertainty. But sometimes, going to court is the only way to get the compensation you deserve under West Virginia law. An attorney can advise if a lawsuit appears to be the best course of action.

Our Experienced West Virginia Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

At Miley Legal, their attorneys have extensive experience representing injury victims following car accidents in West Virginia. Their team assists clients throughout the claims process to help maximize compensation for property damage and other losses.

Use their Car Accident Settlement Calculator to determine how much your case could be worth.

Contact their team today for a consultation to discuss your legal options after a no-injury car wreck. 

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