If you are involved in a car accident in California, you might suffer serious bodily injuries, pain and suffering, and even death in extreme cases. The accidents might leave victims and their families with significant medical expenses, including medical treatment costs, hospital bills, physical therapy costs, and other damages. The fact that the accident injury victim won’t be able to work in the immediate aftermath of a car accident adds to the mental woes of the injured person apart from the already-burgeoning financial burden on his or her shoulders. 

This is the reason why monetary settlement for a car accident is important. It not only provides adequate compensation to the victims and their families but also helps them strike a balance in their lives while they are still recovering from the  life altering effects of an accident. 

However, many car accident victims often don’t know the kind of compensation that they are eligible for. Now, before we answer that question, you must note that every accident is unique and the amount of your settlement will largely depend on several factors of your case such asthe nature and extent of your injuries, whether those are minor or serious injuries, property damage, mental and emotional suffering, loss of pay, the degree of negligence on the part of others involved in the accident and whether you may have contributed to the accident

It is therefore important to ascertain the exact value of the claim and you can use the help of a personal injury attorney if your injuries are serous. We, at JCS Law Firm, guide you in every step of the process and evaluate your losses and determine the worth of your settlement claim.

Car Accident at Intersection

Average Car Accident Settlement in CA

Under California law, car accident victims are eligible to seek compensation for their losses and various other damages. According to various car accident settlement data across the US, the average amount of compensation is around $21,000 with settlements varying between $5,000 and $40,000. A good rule of thumb is that your accident case can be worth 2 to 3 times your past medical expenses but often times insurance companies reduce the value of your medical bills and argue that your medical bills are inflated and your medical treatment was not necessary.

If a lawsuit is filed, that can increase the settlement value if your auto accident case settles before trial. The value of your car accident settlement is usually directly proportional to the value of your past medical expenses with additional money for emotional distress which is known as general damages. 

The vast majority of car accident cases do not result in serious injuries that have lifelong consequences. Most injuries are referred to as whiplash or soft-tissue injuries which involve the tearing of the muscles and ligaments in the back and neck. These soft-tissue types of injuries typically heal within 3-6 months. Hence, the reason why average settlements are in the range that they are - the severity of the injuries, and the associated cost of medical treatment is often minimal. 

However, the California Court has not prescribed a standard settlement amount. In fact, there is no stipulated limit as to how much a plaintiff can seek in a car accident lawsuit but the amount is typically limited by 1) the severity of your injuries and 2) the amount of available insurance to cover your claims 

Do’s and Dont's While Seeking a Car Accident Settlement

Do’s

All car accidents are unique in their nature and, therefore, the Court views each and every settlement claim independently and on an individual basis. While the attorneys will fight for you to give you the best settlement value, you must remember to DO a few things in the aftermath of an accident. 

Contact a lawyer: It is quite obvious that you would be a bit confused about how to go about things after the accident. But the immediate step you should take is to consult a personal injury attorney. This is because you, being the victim, won’t be able to keep track of collecting and compiling crucial evidence. A lawyer, on the other hand, will be able to get the work done for you. 

Call your insurance company but not the at-fault driver: The next step is to call your car insurance company and report the accident. If you are in serious pain and suffering, you can ask your attorney to do the task for you as well. Lawyers are well equipped to deal with the agents of insurance companies. You want to relay your injuries or not disclose your injuries since that information can be used against you later and often your injuries may worsen over time. Often times, your own insurance policy requires that you report your car accident. 

Under no circumstances do you want to discuss your injuries with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. 

Know about the damages you are entitled to: Insurance companies wouldn’t tell you the monetary damages you are entitled to. So it is essential that you consult a lawyer who will tell you about the damages you may receive aftera car accident. These damages include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Past and future medical bills related to medical treatment
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property damage, including the cost and repair of your vehicle
  • Non-economic damages like pain and suffering 

Document your losses: Remember, your settlement claim will depend on the severity of the economic damages you have suffered (both in terms of necessary medical treatment and the cost of that treatment along with any lost wages). 

But a car accident attorney will ensure that all the necessary evidence is collected to help protect your rights apart from getting you maximum compensation. A few of the evidences needed to prove your case include:

  • Pictures of your car
  • Any torn or bloody clothing
  • Pictures of your injuries
  • Documentation of lost wages
  • Witnesses
  • Camera footage
  • Receipts from your accident such asrelated out-of-pocket expenses
  • A journal documenting the emotional impact of the accident

Dont's 

Now that you have understood what you should do in the aftermath of an accident, it is equally important to know the things you should avoid in order to get a favorable settlement or verdict.

Beware of your actions post a car accident

The victims’ behavior after an auto accident could impact their settlement claim. What you say and do after an accident could negatively impact your case. For example, victims shouldn’t tell the first responders that they feel fine after the accident if they are injured or give any recorded statements to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You should not post anything about your accident or any daily life activities that you do on social media. 

Factors Impacting Car Accident Settlement Claims

Severity of injuries

The severity of your injuries will have a major impact on your settlement claim. If the damages involved are catastrophic with grievous injuries like brain and spinal cord injuries or amputated limbs, the claim value will increase compared to an accident that involves milder injuries. 

Medical bills and future expenses

The severity of your injuries is directly proportional to the medical expenses. Severe injuries result in higher medical costs.

Future expenses refer to money which is paid when a victim sustains a permanent impairment or disability. 

Lost wages

No work means no pay. Injuries could prevent you from working for a significant period of time. So the loss in wages should be factored in while calculating your settlement.

Insurance coverage 

The amount and type of a victim’s car insurance policy has a major impact on the car accident settlement process. Under the California Insurance Code §11580.1b, drivers are required to have a minimum of $15,000 per person/ $30,000 per accident for bodily injury liability. There is also a $5,000 minimum requirement for property damage. The available insurance policy limits often limits the value and amount of money you can receive from your car accident case.

Fault

Fault in a car accident settlement is basically determining which driver was negligent (that is, what driver was responsible for causing the collision). In California, though, ascertaining fault can be complex. If the victim shares the fault, the amount of settlement will be reduced accordingly. For example, if you are 50% at fault for the collision, then your damages could be reduced by 50%. 

Maximize The Compensation Of Your Car Accident Settlement

Money is awarded based on two things:

  • Economic damages: Economic damages are based on your medical bills such hospitalisation costs, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, or your loss of income (days you have missed work because you were injured). These damages are easier to determine. 
  • General damages: General damages include pain and suffering. They are based on how an accident affected your life apart from the medical bills you had to pay.

Have You Been Injured In A Southern California Car, Motorcycle, Bicycle, or Semi-Truck Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you should speak to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. You can contact us online or call our office directly at 310-634-1316 to schedule your free consultation with one of our semi-truck attorneys. We have been helping car accident victims since 2013 and serve clients throughout Southern California. You can also request our free Your Personal Injury Guide: 10 Things You Should Know About Your Personal Injury Case guide to learn more about your accident case.