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Average Car Accident Settlement in California: Complete Guide

Car collision accident on the road

While research carried out in 2020 shows that the average car accident settlement amount typically falls at around $23,900, we’ve had a recent claim success of $697,000.

Clearly, there is no exact amount, since it can vary significantly based on various factors specific to each case, such as:

  • Extent of damages
  • Insurance coverage limits
  • Determination of fault 

Where the motor vehicle accident resulted in catastrophic injuries or death, the settlement amount can increase significantly.

Likewise, the details of a case also matter. For example, the hit-and-run compensation amount in California is typically higher than those for other types of accidents and carries additional penalties for the driver who fled the scene. This includes punitive damages, which are meant to punish the driver for their actions.

Typical Settlement Amounts in Detail

With Injury

Typical car accident settlement amounts with injury are around $24,211.

Factors such as medical treatment costs, rehabilitation expenses, and the impact of an injury on your future earning capacity must also be considered when estimating a fair settlement. In cases of permanent disability or disfigurement, potential settlements may include compensation for long-term care and loss of quality of life.

For example, the average settlement for a car accident back and neck injury in California will no doubt be higher than the average settlement for a broken bone in a car accident in California. This is due to the severity of the injury and its potential long-term effects on the victim’s health and well-being.

Note that these settlements also apply to pedestrians as well (if struck by a vehicle). Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in car accidents and often suffer severe injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, and spinal cord injuries.

These types of injuries can result in significant medical expenses, ongoing rehabilitation needs, and long-term impact on the victim’s ability to work and earn a living.

However, the exact details will also need to be taken into consideration when determining a fair settlement amount. For instance, jaywalking and getting hit by a car in California will result in different settlement amounts compared to a pedestrian being hit while crossing at an intersection with the right of way.

Additional reading: average settlement for a rear-end collision in California

If you are local to LA, we have a Torrance car accident attorney on hand to advise you on potential damages you can seek after your accident.


No Injury

Typical car accident settlement amounts with no injury are around $5,313. This figure accounts for compensation primarily related to property damage, including repairs or replacement costs. Note that specific settlement amounts may vary depending on the severity of the accident and the extent of the damages.

However, even in the absence of physical injuries, claimants may still experience emotional distress or minor ailments that don’t require extensive medical treatment. It’s essential to document every related expense thoroughly since settlements can accommodate various non-tangible losses. 

Additional reading: average settlement hit by drunk driver in California

Settlement For Pain and Suffering

The average settlement for a car accident for pain and suffering is estimated using a multiplier method. Insurers total the medical bills and property damage expenses, and multiply by a number between 1.5 and 4, with the multiplier scaling based on the severity of the incident.

This method, while a common approach for determining how much is pain and suffering in a car accident, is not without its flaws. Every case is unique and may require a different multiplier based on specific factors such as demographics, severity of the injury, and jurisdictional laws.

Minor Car Accidents

The average settlement for a minor car accident is typically less than $10,000. This considers basic property damage and minimal medical treatment. It’s crucial to assess each incident individually, as the final payout can be influenced by numerous factors, including documented evidence and negotiations with insurance providers.

Minor car accident settlement amounts largely cover repair expenses for vehicle damages and minor medical costs if any injuries were sustained. However, even seemingly minor accidents can result in long-term physical or psychological problems that may require further compensation.

Average Payout Aor a Car Accident Death

The average payout for a car accident death in California is $1,778,000. This compensation not only covers the financial aspects such as loss of companionship, income, and funeral expenses but also takes into account the individual circumstances and details of each case, which can influence the final settlement amount.

Note that we’ve inferred the figure on the average settlement for a car accident death from a 2021 report published by the NSC (National Safety Council). Wrongful death is an emotionally charged issue, so there are no official guidelines for calculating a fair settlement.

No matter your personal circumstances, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, contact a San Bernardino car accident lawyer for a free initial consultation.

Additional reading: how much can someone sue for a car accident in California

Maximizing Auto Accident Settlement Amounts in California

Maximizing your auto accident settlement in California requires a strategic approach and a thorough understanding of the claims process. To enhance your chances of receiving a settlement figure that reflects the true cost of your ordeal, it’s vital to take specific steps aimed at strengthening your position.

Whether you’re seeking recovery of car accident injury settlement amounts or compensation for property loss, here are some actionable tips to increase the odds of maximizing your car accident settlement:

  • Collect Evidence: Gather as much evidence as possible at the accident scene. Take photos, obtain witness contact information, and preserve physical evidence that may later support your claim.
  • Receive medical attention: Even if your injuries seem minor, get a professional evaluation to document your condition; some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  • Engage professional legal help: Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can provide insight into the nuances of your car accident claim and ensure all legal steps are properly navigated.
  • Report the accident promptly: Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible to avoid any potential issues with claims processing.
  • Keep detailed records: Maintain a comprehensive file of all documents related to the accident, including medical bills, medical records, repair estimates, and any correspondence with insurance companies.
  • Avoid accepting the first offer: Insurance adjusters often begin negotiations with a low offer. Having the patience to negotiate can lead to a more substantial settlement.
  • Understand your policy: Be fully aware of the coverage limits and exclusions within your insurance policy to leverage the maximum benefit available.
  • Document non-economic losses: Keep a diary of your daily pain levels, emotional distress, and any ways in which the accident has affected your lifestyle.
  • Beware of social media: Refrain from discussing your accident or posting anything that might undermine your claim on social media platforms.
  • Stay mindful of deadlines: Be aware of and adhere to the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim to ensure you don’t forfeit your right to compensation. Under California law, the California car accident statute of limitations is generally 2 years from the date of the accident.

By proactively managing your claim and understanding the pivotal elements that contribute to the settlement calculation, you can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a satisfactory outcome.

Additional reading: should i get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault

Factors That Impact Insurance Car Accident Settlements

When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit for car accident settlements, consider the multifaceted factors that affect the compensation amount. Each accident case is unique, and the settlement will reflect the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.

Understanding these contributing elements can provide insight into what you can expect from the settlement negotiation process and how much damages you could receive: 

  • Liability and Comparative Negligence: In cases where fault is shared, the concept of comparative negligence comes into play, potentially reducing the settlement amount based on the degree of each party’s responsibility.
  • Severity of Injuries: More serious injuries typically result in higher medical expenses and may contribute to increased compensation for pain and suffering.
  • Medical Treatment and Expenses: Long-term care needs and ongoing medical expenses add to the financial burden and can significantly raise the settlement value of your car accident claim.
  • Insurance Coverage Limits: The insurance policies in play will cap the settlement amounts. Understanding the policy limits is essential to evaluate whether the settlement offered aligns with the coverage available.
  • Lost Wages and Potential Earnings: The settlement should account for both current and future lost wages, especially if injuries affect your ability to work. The potential for lost future earnings becomes a crucial point of negotiation, here.
  • Pain and Suffering: Quantifying pain and suffering is a complex process often based on the extent of the injuries and their long-term effects. Settlements aim to compensate for both the physical (economic damages) and emotional distress (non-economic damages) caused by the accident.
  • Effect on Quality of Life: Accidents may result in a diminished quality of life, impacting settlements. The ability to enjoy life as before is a compensable loss in most car accident cases.

Through careful analysis and strategic presentation of these components, claimants can bolster their position during settlement negotiations, but the key to really get a maximum payout is through hiring an experienced car accident attorney.

Additional reading: how long does it take to settle a car accident claim in California

We’ll Get You the Maximum Compensation You Deserve

While not every case will need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, it’s always best to consult with one to determine the strength of your case and ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages. As the auto accident victim, you deserve a legal team that will fight tirelessly to secure the minimum settlement for car accident damages and ensure that your compensation fully recognizes the severity of your situation. 

At Feher Law, we understand the intricacies of car accident litigation and are committed to helping you navigate the legal process with ease and confidence. Whether it’s negotiating with insurance companies or presenting a case in court, we have the expertise and experience to maximize your settlement.

Get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys.

Key Takeaways

Navigating a car accident lawsuit in California requires attentiveness to several key factors that influence the settlement amount. As we’ve seen, these settlements can be significantly affected by the clear establishment of liability, the extent of the injuries, the cost of medical care, insurance policy limits, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the overall impact on quality of life.

While it is difficult to predict an exact number due to the complexity of each case, being well-informed and strategic can help in obtaining a fair amount. It is also critical to have proficient legal representation to guide you through the settlement process. 


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