What Is the Average Settlement for a Truck Accident in California?

A blue big rig truck pulling a freezer trailer behind it along a road on a sunny day.

A typical truck accident in California can inflict serious medical harm, resulting in extensive medical bills, as well as lost work income, and many other damages. Depending on the state of the injury victim, they may incur additional costs because of a complex medical condition, including internal organ damage, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury (TBI), loss of use of a limb or appendage, or any other injury requiring extensive hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Put as simply as possible: truck accidents aren’t cheap. Knowing this, our truck accident lawyers at Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law always fight for top dollar when negotiating injury claim settlements with commercial insurance companies and trucking companies.

For more information on how much to expect in your case — and how to pursue the highest amount possible — reach out to an attorney at our firm today for a free consultation and case discussion. Schedule your free, no-obligation case review today when you call 559-878-4958 or contact us online.

What Damages Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?

A claim’s settlement value is made up of many different components. Each of these is called “damages” because they refer to the financial harm the at-fault party inflicted through their negligence.

These damages can be quite high, especially in a high-cost-of-living state like California. According to a 2022 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents in California had a total economic impact of more than $29 billion in 2019.

Truck accident damages can be separated into multiple categories. The most common categories of damages are:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of domestic support
  • Pain and suffering
  • Vehicle repairs and other personal property damages
  • Wrongful death damages

Medical Bills

Medical bills, by a long measure, make up the bulk of a typical truck accident claim’s value. Health care in the U.S. is expensive, and the cost goes up bit by bit all of the time.

This rise in healthcare expenses has led to a dramatic increase in the size of injury settlements for auto claims from 2002–2022, according to a study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC). IRC noted a 4.5% increase in claim settlement values despite a 2% decline in claims overall.

A medical expenses claim for bodily injury liability should include all expenses the victim will pay in order to treat their injuries. That includes both past damages for services already rendered and future damages projected based on the follow-up care needed, as well as the cost of any long-term support if required.

This category of damages covers all applicable medical expenses, including:

  • Ambulance rides
  • ER charges
  • Diagnostics and imaging
  • Hospitalization
  • Specialist treatments
  • Medications
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Any long-term care and support required (possibly for the rest of the victim’s life)

Lost Wages

“Lost wages” damages refer to all reductions in income and benefits caused by a truck accident injury. They can include wages literally lost when an injury victim is unable to earn money because they have to miss work.

It can also include loss of income-earning opportunities if the victim was compensated through commissions, tips, bonuses, performance-based pay, and other forms of alternative compensation.

Importantly, loss of benefits can also be covered in a lost wages claim, meaning that salaried employees who are forced to use sick days to recover from a crash can still recover the loss of their paid time off (PTO) hours.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Out-of-pocket expenses, often called “incidental damages,” are costs made necessary because of the accident and the resulting injury. A common example is the cost of traveling to or parking at a medical appointment.

This category can also refer to quasi-medical expenses not directly billed by a medical services provider, such as the costs of over-the-counter medications, devices, durable medical equipment, wound treatment items, etc.

If the injury victim must make modifications to their home to support their medical needs during their recovery, such as the installation of a ramp to get into their home, then they can be claimed, as well.

Pain and Suffering

This category compensates the victim for the physical and mental discomfort they experienced, as well as the loss of opportunities to enjoy special occasions or time spent with loved ones.

Wrongful Death Damages

A wrongful death case can compensate surviving family members (or representatives of the decedent’s estate) for all of the above types of losses if they were suffered by the victim because of their truck accident injuries. It can also include extra damages for funeral and burial, as well as the personal pain and suffering of the surviving family members.

Personal Property Damages

This category includes the costs of vehicle repairs or replacement, as well as the costs of replacing any damaged devices, jewelry, clothing, accessories, and other personal effects of significant value that were damaged or destroyed in the wreck.

Loss of Domestic Support

This category of damages can provide compensation for households where the injury victim once performed regular domestic duties (e.g., laundry, dishes, childcare) but now is unable to because of their condition. The compensation is intended for the victim to hire services to replace the ones they once provided.

How Can I Predict the Value of My Truck Accident Claim?

The value of your claim depends on hundreds of different factors, not the least of which is your medical prognosis.

To help you understand what factors go into a truck accident’s case valuation, we have outlined some of the key considerations that can affect the expected compensation from a claim.

We have also projected some numbers for how much a case could be worth depending on the general medical condition of the injury victim. These numbers are not a guarantee, but they indicate the high level of loss experienced by people hurt in a trucking accident in California.

Severity of Injury

Injuries that are more damaging and life-threatening cost more to treat, and they also result in more suffering for the victim. Further, the victim is more likely to have an extended recovery period, resulting not only in more medical services but also in forcing the individual to miss work or work in a reduced capacity.

Risk to Life, Limb, and Ability

Injuries that are more life-threatening also limit the injury victim more, which inflicts a different type of loss that goes beyond the direct financial costs of care.

For example, a traumatic brain injury can mean extended loss of consciousness followed by a loss of function or ability, such as memory loss or a temporary loss of taste and smell. A spinal cord injury can inflict paralysis of a limb, or it can cause chronic pain, numbness, and tingling.

A loss of a finger, foot, or other bodily appendage means that the victim has a permanent impairment. Truck injury claims should compensate the victim for these losses, whether they are permanent or temporary.

Difference in Income and Earned Benefits

Individuals who had a higher income (or more accrued benefits) before the accident will experience a greater degree of lost wages. Note that lost wages are calculated as the difference in earnings from before compared to after the accident, so if the victim loses work opportunities and is forced to use their benefits, then they will incur greater losses.

Death or Permanent Disability

In the event of the tragic passing of the injury victim or the development of a permanent disability, the claimant is able to claim the remaining lifetime value of income that would have been earned (or the difference in income earned if the victim can resume working in a reduced capacity) had the wreck not occurred.

Cost of Living and Cost of Services

If living expenses or services like hallway modifications to fit a hospital bed are higher for an individual, then they may be able to claim more for their damages, as appropriate, to compensate them for the full value of costs they were forced to pay.

Evidentiary Factors and Comparative Negligence

Trucking companies and their insurers are more likely to settle a case closer to the victim’s asking price if the victim has airtight evidence of the cause of the accident, the extent of their injuries, and the connection between their injuries and the policyholder’s negligence.

In other words, the party accepting liability is willing to pay more if they think their case would be lost in a court of law. If there are factors that make fault unclear or that raise questions because of vague evidence, then the defending party will usually feel more confident in their ability to negotiate the settlement down.

There may be other factors involved, such as the ability to recover the telemetry data from the truck, the ability to determine the most appropriate venue for a lawsuit, and other case characteristics that can affect the possible value of a settlement, irrespective of the actual damages wrought.

Some Projected Average Truck Accident Settlement Amounts

A given truck accident case can result in a settlement within a wide range, often from a few thousand dollars — for minor injuries — to millions of dollars — for cases involving death, paralysis, amputation, and other major injuries.

Some projected amounts by category of injury are listed below.

Injury Severity
Projected Settlement Amount (Ballpark)
Very minor (no professional care required after first aid)
$2,500 – $10,000
Minor (ER visit, no hospitalization, extended treatment of a wound)
$25,000 – $100,000
Moderate (Some hospitalization, surgery needed, specialist treatment, temporary loss of use of limb)
$100,000 – $450,000
Severe (Extended hospitalization, multiple surgeries, serious threat to life, immobilized during recovery, long-term impairment)
$500,000 – $1,000,000+
Extreme (Loss of life, amputation, paralysis, permanent disability)
$700,000 – $1,500,000+


Reach Out to an Experienced California Truck Accident Law Firm

Singh Ahluwalia can’t guarantee that your case will result in a certain amount of compensation — or any compensation at all — but we can promise that we will handle your case with care, compassion, and a drive to help you recover as much as possible.

We have built our reputation on helping all injury victims recover, including those without the resources to otherwise pay for their care or receive legal representation. That’s why we’re willing to represent you on contingency, meaning you pay nothing until — and unless — we win money for your losses.

Find out how much your case could be worth, what damages apply, and what strategies we’ll use to pursue the maximum compensation available when you call 559-878-4958 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.