Personal Injury Car Accident Settlement

Car accident injury settlements in California average $21,000 for soft tissue injury and $127,000 for severe injuries.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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What is the average personal injury settlement in California?

In the state of California, the average settlement amount for a car accident is $21,000. California law permits victims of car accidents to pursue compensation for their losses. That said, there is no average settlement amount – at least, not any meaningful number. Every car accident claim should be viewed on an individual basis. An accident victim’s compensation will depend on the severity and extent of the injuries in question.

If an individual suffers an injury from a car accident in California, he or she may have to deal with both pain and property damage. A car accident can result in medical bills, repair expenses, and treatment costs, all of which add up to a pretty penny. Every car accident involves unique factors, and the value of a possible settlement will depend on the specific details of one’s personal injury case. To better understand the value of one’s personal injury claim, the victim of a car accident should not hesitate to contact a California personal injury lawyer.

By speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer, an individual can improve their odds of getting a large settlement amount to cover their damages. A skilled personal injury lawyer will guide their client through the claim process and provide sound legal advice regarding settlement amounts, an individual’s legal rights, and the best moves going forward.

After a car accident, an individual may recover the following kinds of compensation:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Los wages
  • Property damage
  • Emotional injuries
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of consortium

A car accident can result in terrible, life-threatening injuries that may impact a victim’s life for many years. Compensation can make it easier to bear the financial burdens following an accident, but some things cannot be repaired with money. It can be difficult to handle the settlement process without the assistant of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

In this article, our auto accident attorney discusses car wreck injury settlement as follows:

What should be documented about an accident?

To receive the biggest settlement value, an individual should document the losses they suffered as a result of the car accident. An insurance company will do all they can to reduce the settlement amount. If an accident victim does not offer evidence and documentation that supports their claim, they may only get a fraction of the compensation they deserve.

Documentation that may be used as evidence includes the following:

  • Vehicle wreckage and debris
  • Medical records
  • Vehicle repair cost estimate
  • Photos of injuries
  • Daily journal of healing process, pain levels, emotional distress
  • Dashcams
  • Witnesses
  • Photos and videos of the crash scene

By not putting together proof of damages after a car accident, an accident victim may cost themselves thousands of dollars’ worth of compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney is well-versed in preparing evidence, and he or she can ensure their client gets the maximum compensation available.

How do I settle a dispute with my insurance company?

An insurance adjuster is a skilled negotiator who will do their best to save the company money. After all, they were hired to defend the financial interests of the insurance company. Without the assistance of a personal injury attorney, an accident victim may face a frustrating and stressful experience.  It is important not to rely on the advice of the insurance adjuster, because their mission is to settle an accident claim for the smallest settlement value possible, regardless of injuries.

Rather than battling the insurance company alone, a car accident victim should contact a personal injury lawyer as early in the claims process as they can. The attorney will deal with the insurance company, steadily building and defending their client’s claim. They will negotiate for the biggest possible settlement value. If the insurance company declines to compensate the victim fairly, then the attorney will discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit. They will then prepare the case for trial.

What factors should be considered in a settlement?

Following a car accident, a victim will need compensation to cover the many expenses associated with injuries and other damages. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to offer low settlement amounts that are not what victims deserve. Many factors impact the specific settlement value, which is why an individual should meet with a personal injury attorney to go over what kinds of damages he or she is eligible to get, as well as what a fair settlement value is.

The following are some factors that can have a big impact on a personal injury settlement:

  • Accident victim’s statement and actions after an auto accident

An injury claim can be impacted by what a victim does immediately following the accident. For instance, if an individual tells EMTs that they feel fine after a crash and they do not seek medical attention in the days or weeks after the accident, the insurance company will make the argument that the accident did not cause the injuries.

If the victim of the car accident says sorry to the other driver involved in the accident, the insurance company may argue that the victim is admitting fault. Should the victim speak with the other motorist’s insurance company, they might unwittingly say something that the insurance adjuster can use to undervalue or deny the claim.

  • Availability of insurance coverage

Another factor that can affect the settlement amount is the type and amount of car insurance coverage. In California, a driver must have $15,000 minimum per person and $30,000 per accident for bodily injury liability. There is a further minimum of $5,000 for property damage. If the other driver is fully responsible for the accident and has minimum insurance coverage, then the most the victim may get from their insurance company is $30,000.

While it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver, if he or she does not have any assets, the judgment may be worthless.

A better scenario is if the victim has underinsured driver coverage. This kind of coverage compensates a victim for losses when the at-fault driver’s coverage cannot pay the full value of the claim. Underinsured coverage is an optional policy that a driver can buy with their liability coverage.

  • Physical injuries

The manner of seriousness of car accident injuries can also affect the value of a settlement. Because severe injuries tend to be more expensive to treat and manage, the value of the claim increases. For instance, permanent injuries like spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries carry a much higher settlement value as compared to minor injuries like soft tissue damage.

A permanent disability leads to loss of income, reduced enjoyment of life, and significant medical expenses. These are not injuries that heal within weeks.

  • Future expenses

A personal injury claim may also take into account future damages. These are usually considered in cases where a victim suffers a permanent disability or impairment in an accident. The victim may need ongoing medical treatment or personal care.

Adding up future damages is a complicated process. There are many factors that affect the value of the damages, including the following:

  1. Cost of care
  2. Income loss
  3. Life expectancy
  4. Education
  5. Career
  6. Age
  7. Experience

To accurately estimate future damages, a personal injury lawyer may enlist the help of financial and medical experts.

  • Financial damages

Reasonable and necessary expenses related to a car accident victim’s injuries will usually be included in financial damages. These may include the following:

  • Medical supplies and medications
  • Occupational and physical therapies
  • Personal care costs
  • Assistance with household chores
  • Medical bills
  • Travel expenses to medical appointments
  • Loss of income

It is important to have a record of all financial damages so that these expenses may be factored into the accident claim.

The quantity of future damages may affect the non-economic damages value. Usually, to calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering, one calculates the financial damages according to the extent of the injuries. Typically, the greater the financial damages, the higher the non-economic damages value.

  • The insurance company

Insurance companies will sometimes deny or undervalue car accident claims. The claims process can therefore be frustrating and difficult for victims, especially when the insurer is trying to avoid paying out the compensation the victim deserves. It is important that an individual hires a personal injury attorney who can protect their rights and argue their claim. Having a lawyer on one’s side can make the insurance company treat the claim more seriously and be more likely to offer fair compensation.

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