How Much a Car Accident Costs: a 2023 Analysis

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Motor vehicle crashes cost American society $340 billion in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. [1] In just one year, an estimated 36,500 people were killed, 4.5 million were injured and 23 million vehicles were damaged. This means $1,035 in indirect losses for every single one of 328 million Americans. [2]

Traffic crashes cost taxpayers $30 billion in 2019, the equivalent of $230 in added taxes for every household in the United States. These losses include medical costs, legal costs, court costs, emergency service costs, insurance administration costs, property damage and more. See what the leading causes of accidents are and how much it’ll cost you if you’re involved in one.

Key Takeaways

  • Every year car accidents cost states millions of dollars, which means higher taxes for everyone.
  • The leading causes of car accidents are all preventable by drivers.
  • Car insurance is more expensive in states with more accidents.
  • Extended liability limits and umbrella insurance prevent drivers from paying out-of-pocket, having wages garnished or assets seized.

The 4 Main Causes of Car Accidents

1. Alcohol

  • Alcohol-related crashes ended up in 14,219 fatalities, 497,000 injuries and $68.9 billion in state losses in 2019.
  • Alcohol-related crashes accounted for 20% of all crashes.
  • Crashes involving alcohol levels of .08 BAC or higher are responsible for more than 90% of losses.

2. Distraction

  • Distracted driving resulted in crashes with 10,546 fatalities, 1.3 million nonfatal injuries, and $98.2 billion in monetary losses in 2019.
  • Distracted driving accounted for roughly 29% of all crash costs.

3. Failure to Wear a Seat Belt

  • Failure to wear a seat belt caused 2,400 avoidable fatalities, 46,000 serious injuries, and cost states $11 billion in injury-related costs.
  • Failure to wear a seat belt accounted for about 3% of all monetary losses.

4. Speeding

  • Speed-related crashes resulted in 10,192 fatalities, 498,000 nonfatal injuries, and $46 billion in economic costs in 2019.
  • Speeding accounted for 14% of all economic costs.
  • Speed-related crashes cost an average of $141 for every person in the United States. [1]

How Much Does a Car Accident Cost?

Death $1,750,000
Disabling $101,000
No injury observed $12,800
Property damage only (cost per vehicle) $4,700

The cost of all motor-vehicle crashes (fatal, nonfatal injury, and property damage) was $11,210,000.

This includes one death, 52 nonfatal disabling injuries and 187 property damage crashes as well as minor injuries. [2]

Car Insurance Costs and Accidents

Your car insurance rates may be high if there is a history of car accidents in your state and rates of collisions are consistently high. Rising car insurance costs are often overlooked when people look at how much a car accident costs.

Umbrella Insurance and Liability Limits

The exorbitant cost of an accident is why more affluent people buy umbrella policies, because one accident can deal a financial blow to someone’s financial health. An umbrella policy extends your liability coverage for property damage and injuries, even death.

It’s very common for an umbrella policy to cover $1 million or more. Without an umbrella policy, your savings, assets and even paychecks are at stake if there is a lawsuit.

Even if you decide you don’t need an umbrella policy, look at your existing liability limits and see if they are high enough. Most state required limits do not fully cover a car accident that is severe.

Find Cheap Car Insurance with Accident Forgiveness

How Much Does it Cost To Repair a Car After an Accident

You don’t really have to worry about how much it would cost to fix your car after an accident that was another driver’s fault because your insurance company will fight and get the other driver’s insurance company to pay for it in full. You won’t even have to pay a deductible.

However, when you are at fault for the accident, you won’t be covered if you only have state minimum insurance. You’ll need collision coverage to pay for repairs and you’ll have to pay a deductible. Otherwise you will pay for repairs.

The more expensive the car, the more expensive the repairs will be in most cases, which means higher out-of-pocket expenses, especially if the car is high-tech and has sensors, special cameras, a head-up display, etcetera.

Accident With an Uninsured At-fault Driver

If you don’t have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or collision coverage and have an accident with someone who doesn’t have a policy or whose limits are too low to cover your repairs, you will have to pay for repairs yourself.

What Does a Car Repair Bill After an Accident Look Like?

How much it costs to repair the car will be determined by an appraiser, who will consider the damages and the make/model of the car, which is really what determines the price.

Parts for certain cars are very expensive. Labor is specialized for newer and more technologically advanced cars and not every mechanic can do the repair work. Specialized mechanics are more expensive.

How badly the car is damaged will affect prices too. Here are some ranges for repairs:

Type of Damage Cost
Seat belt repair and replacement (per seat belt) $200-$600
Air bag replacement per bag $1,000-$,6000
Windshield replacement $300-$6,000
Windshield crack repair $200-$600
Bumper repair or replacement $500-$2,000
Frame damage repair $600-$10.000
Suspension damage repair $1,000-$6000
Engine replacement $3,000-$8,000
Scratch repair $50-$2,500
Window replacement $300-$2,500

Prices [4] depend on:

  • Car model and make (expensive cars are usually more expensive to fix)
  • The severity of the damage
  • The repair shop
  • Parts availability and cost

Price of an Accident With and Without Insurance

Take a look at California’s state minimum here, as an example (each state has different limit requirements):

  • $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $5,000 of property damage liability coverage

Consider how these cash payouts would help, as it relates to the cost of injuries, deaths and property damage discussed earlier.

While state minimums often don’t cover an accident entirely, there’s at least a few thousand dollars towards car repairs, and even more for injury and death.

The average property damage was listed by the NHTSA as $4,700 so let’s say the accident cost that much. If you live in California and have state minimum insurance, you would pay your deductible amount (let’s say $1,000), and you’d get $4000 worth of the damage covered by your insurer.

You’d only have to pay $700 out of pocket versus paying $4700 for the accident if uninsured. However, that amount does not figure in the penalty for driving while uninsured, the penalty and fines of which total over $400.

Basically, you’d owe around $5,100 vs $2,100 (including the deductible) for an average car accident without minimum insurance, and your car insurance rate would skyrocket if you decided to continue driving. If you had a limit of $10,000 for liability property damage, you'd only owe $1,000.

Without Insurance With Insurance, $10,000 liability limit With Insurance $5,000 liability limit (minimum requirement in CA)
$5,100 $1,000 (includes and only costs the $1,000 deductible) $2,100 (includes $1,000 deductible)

9 Things To Do After a Car Accident

  1. Check for injuries.
  2. Call the police, even if there are no injuries.
  3. Get your car to a safe area.
  4. Turn on your hazard lights.
  5. Get the other driver’s insurance and personal information.
  6. Get witnesses’ information, like phone numbers and emails.
  7. Take photos and videos of the scene of the accident.
  8. Photograph and video the damage to both cars.
  9. File an insurance claim report.

Car Accident Costs FAQs

How can you reduce repair costs on a vehicle?

You can shop around for a cheaper mechanic or body repair shop. Consider using the technician recommended by your auto insurer. You can also go without original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM), which can be more than 60% more expensive.

Will an accident increase my car insurance premiums if it wasn’t my fault?

Unfortunately, it probably will but insignificantly. If it was your fault you’d see a much higher spike in premiums. You can compare car insurance rates easily and for free to find a cheaper rate.

How can I prevent an accident?

Don’t drink or take medication that makes you drowsy before you drive. Don’t get distracted by your phone or other device. Don’t speed. Follow the rules of the road, and don’t make sudden lane changes without forewarning other drivers. Always wear your seat belt and make sure everyone in the car does too.


  1. Traffic Crashes Cost America $340 Billion in 2019, NHTSA. February 3, 2023.
  2. Guide to Calculating Costs, National Safety Council Injury Facts. February 2, 2023.
  3. SmartFinancial’s internal quoting data.
  4. Repair pricing averages are based on pricing listed by accident attorneys and repair shops online.

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