How Much Should I Expect From A Car Accident Settlement in California?

A white car with a torn rear bumper in the middle of the road after an accident.

It’s difficult to give an exact number for what to expect from a car accident settlement because every car accident looks different. In some cases, a minor fender bender can result in a neck or head injury that takes months to recover from.

In others, a driver may end up totaling their vehicle; yet come out unscathed.

What is certain is that car accidents continue to persist, and there are guardrails in place to ensure your rights will be protected while you fight to secure any damages you’re owed after suffering from an injury at the hands of a negligent party. 

If you’ve been in a car accident, make sure to seek out medical care as soon as possible for any injuries sustained. Even small aches and pains can give way to more serious, ongoing issues, so it’s always important to consult with a medical professional after sustaining any injury.

Similarly, when it comes time to file your claim, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong legal team by your side. At Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law, our California personal injury lawyers are here to help you navigate every case, no matter how complex.

To schedule a confidential, no-obligation case review, simply call (559) 878-4958 or contact us online today. 

What Is the Max Settlement for a Car Accident?

In California, there is no maximum settlement for a car accident. The amount of a settlement will depend on various factors, including the severity of the injuries, the amount of property damage, and who was at fault for the accident.

As each case is unique, every settlement amount can vary widely. 

What Factors Will Affect My Total Settlement Amount?

After an accident, it’s natural to start calculating the damages you’re owed — but before you do, keep in mind that certain legal parameters are sure to come into play. Perhaps the most important factor to understand is liability. 

How Will Liability Affect My Settlement? 

Liability, or who is at fault for the accident, can have a significant impact on the total value of your settlement in a car accident case.

If the other driver is found to be entirely at fault, you may be able to recover damages for all of your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your settlement amount may be reduced proportionally.

For example, if you were found to be 20% at fault for the accident, and your total damages were $100,000, your settlement amount would be reduced by 20% to $80,000.

This is because California follows the rule of comparative negligence, which allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident, as long as their fault is less than 50%.

Additionally, determining liability can impact the settlement negotiations. If liability is clear and the other driver is found to be entirely at fault, their insurance company may be more willing to offer a larger settlement to avoid going to trial.

However, if liability is disputed or unclear, negotiations may be more challenging, and the case may need to go to trial to determine fault.

How Will Insurance Coverage Affect My Total Settlement Amount? 

Insurance coverage can also play a significant role in determining the amount of your settlement. If the other driver is found to be at fault for the accident, their insurance coverage can be used to pay for your damages.

However, the amount of insurance coverage available can vary, and this can affect the settlement amount in several ways:

  1. Policy Limits: Insurance policies have limits on the amount of coverage available. For example, a driver may have a liability policy with a $50,000 limit. If your damages exceed $50,000, the driver’s insurance will only pay up to the policy limit, and you may need to pursue additional compensation from other sources.
  2. Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If the other driver does not have insurance or has insufficient insurance to cover your damages, you may be able to use your own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage to make up the difference. This coverage can help ensure that you receive the compensation you need even if the other driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient.
  3. Negotiations: Insurance adjusters may try to settle your case for less than it is worth. They may argue that your damages are not as severe as you claim or that you were partially at fault for the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
  4. Subrogation: If your own insurance company paid for any of your damages, they may have a right to be reimbursed from any settlement or judgment you receive. This is known as subrogation, and it can impact the amount of your settlement.

What Other Factors Can Affect My Total Settlement Amount? 

In addition to liability and insurance coverage, several other factors can affect the total amount of your car accident settlement. These factors include:

  1. The severity of your injuries: The extent of your injuries and the impact they have on your life can significantly affect the value of your settlement. More severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment, ongoing care, and rehabilitation are typically associated with higher settlements.
  2. Medical expenses: The total cost of your medical expenses related to the accident, including hospital bills, doctor visits, prescription medications, and physical therapy, can impact the settlement amount. The more significant the medical expenses, the higher the potential value of your settlement.
  3. Lost wages: If you missed work or had to reduce your work hours due to your injuries, you may be able to recover lost wages as part of your settlement. The amount of lost wages can significantly affect the settlement amount, particularly if your injuries prevent you from returning to work or significantly impact your earning potential.
  4. Property damage: The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other property damaged in the accident can also factor into the settlement amount. This includes not only the direct cost of repairs but also any rental car or transportation expenses incurred while your car is being repaired.
  5. Pain and suffering: The physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the accident can also factor into the settlement amount. Pain and suffering damages can be difficult to quantify, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help establish the value of these damages based on the extent and duration of your pain and suffering.
  6. Future damages: If your injuries are likely to result in ongoing medical treatment or future lost wages, this can also impact the settlement amount. An experienced personal injury attorney can help calculate the value of these future damages to ensure that you receive a fair settlement that accounts for your long-term needs.

How Are Settlements Calculated?

Settlements in car accident cases are typically calculated by assessing the damages incurred by the injured party and negotiating a fair compensation amount with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or legal representative. 

The following steps are typically involved in calculating a settlement:

  1. Assessing damages: The first step in calculating a settlement is to assess the damages incurred by the injured party. This includes the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, property damage, and any other financial losses incurred as a result of the accident.
  2. Determining liability: Liability must be established before settlement negotiations can begin. Liability refers to who is at fault for the accident. If the other driver is entirely at fault, their insurance company will typically be responsible for covering the damages incurred by the injured party.
  3. Negotiating a settlement: Once damages and liability have been established, settlement negotiations can begin. The at-fault driver’s insurance company or legal representative will typically offer a settlement amount based on their assessment of the damages incurred by the injured party. The injured party’s attorney will negotiate with the other party to reach a fair settlement amount.
  4. Accepting or rejecting the settlement offer: If both parties can agree on a settlement amount, the injured party will accept the offer and sign a release form, which releases the at-fault driver and their insurance company from any further liability related to the accident. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial, and the final value of a case may be determined by a jury decision.

How Can A Car Accident Attorney Help Me Secure The Right Settlement? 

Overall, a qualified car accident lawyer can help you secure the best settlement possible by evaluating your case, negotiating with insurance companies, gathering evidence, managing paperwork, and representing you in court if necessary.

Additionally, if you decide to navigate the process alone, you’re much less likely to receive the best settlement possible.

This is because personal injury law is, by nature, complex, and insurance companies may take advantage of your limited knowledge and experience to offer a lower settlement amount.

The same companies may even try to underestimate your damages, but working with a knowledgeable attorney can ensure that your rights are protected. 

So if you’re curious to learn how much your case may be worth, contact Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law today. To schedule a confidential, no-obligation case review, simply call (559) 878-4958 or contact the team online here.