California Car Accident Settlement Guide & Process
A major car accident has the potential to change your life. Serious injuries may require months off from work for recovery or result in permanent physical injuries. This impacts your ability to provide for your loved ones, creating emotional and financial stress. Fortunately, there are legal steps you can take to help recover the financial losses from your accident.
Woodstock 1969 was an unprecedented event in the world of music, attracting a record 500,000 spectators. Those four days at Max Yasgur’s Dairy Farm were a true celebration of peace, love and music, briefly turning all the guests into one huge motley family. There were long-haired hippies, Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, and even yippie rebels led by their revolutionary leader Abby Hoffman.
Filing claims against the other driver and the insurance company is common practice after a car accident. A car accident lawyer can help you file your claim and fight on your behalf, so you are awarded the settlement you deserve. The right legal team can help you take on tough insurance companies and ensure your compensation is proportionate to the injuries and type of accident that occurred.
Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Every car accident is different, and settlement amounts vary widely. The average settlement for a car accident depends on the cause of the accident, the type of accident that occurred, and if injuries were involved. It also depends on how much insurance companies are willing to pay and the laws of your state. Many settlement terms are kept private, so it can be hard to know the amounts people are being awarded.
In general, the more serious an accident, the higher the car accident settlement payout will be. Having children or adult passengers in the car also affects your car accident settlement. People involved in car accidents without serious injuries are awarded an average of $8,200. In a survey of car accident settlements, more than one-third only received $5,000 or less, while close to a quarter earned over $20,000 from their settlement.
Car Accident Settlement by Types
The type of car accident you were involved in affects your settlement amount. Some types of accidents are more prone to causing serious injuries and more damage to your vehicle. You will receive higher settlements for these types of accidents.
Minor car accident
Even minor car accidents can cause injuries and damage to your vehicle. Car accident settlements for minor accidents will be smaller and may offer victims around $3,000 on average for the collision. Settlements from minor accidents help you pay for the medical care you need and for repairs to your car.
Rear-end and T-bone car accidents
Rear-end and T-bone car accidents can cause more serious injuries and substantial damage to your vehicle. T-bone, also known as side-impact crashes, accounts for 23% of all car crashes, while rear-end collisions are involved in fewer accidents.
Both types of these crashes may leave you facing expensive medical bills from emergency care or long-term rehabilitative treatments, plus the added stress of replacing a car that has been totaled.
People in more serious accidents like these payout higher settlements than those in minor accidents. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your medical costs, and other financial losses, you could be awarded a settlement of one hundred thousand dollars or more in a T-bone accident.
Rear-end accidents don’t usually cause as severe injuries and damages as side-impact crashes, and their settlements reflect this. On average, those involved in read-end collisions can expect a settlement amount of $20,000 to $30,000.
Passengers and children
Adult passengers and children can affect your settlement. Passengers who acted negligently could adversely affect your case or lower your settlement even if you were not at fault for the accident. Passengers are also entitled to settlements if they sustain injuries in the accident.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children 15 and under in the U.S., often resulting from improper restraints. Watching your child suffer takes an emotional toll, plus there are added expenses for their medical care. If a child is injured, you may have more economic and non-economic damages in your claim. Your settlement may be higher as a result.
Average Car Settlement Payouts by Injuries
It’s common for car accidents to cause injuries, with an estimated 4.5 million injuries caused in 2019. Accident settlements involving injuries are typically higher. An average settlement of $29,700 was awarded to those injured from their accident.
The type and severity of the injury you experience from your accident impacts the amount you’ll receive in your settlement. Life-long injuries and injuries resulting in a diminished capacity to work or enjoy life are awarded higher settlements.
To receive economic damages for an injury, you have to prove the injury occurred as a result of the accident. People with pre-existing injuries made worse by the accident may have more trouble proving their case.
A lawyer can help you document your injury and gather the medical evidence you need. Common injuries from car accidents include injuries to your back, neck, shoulders, and soft tissue injuries.
Back and neck injuries
Back and neck injuries include less serious strains to your muscles as well as life-altering injuries to your spine. Even minor strains to your low back or neck from the crash can cause whiplash and chronic pain, making it hard to work and enjoy life. Accidents that result in spinal cord injuries are awarded some of the largest settlements. The median back and neck strain settlement in California is $10,885.
Soft tissue injury
Soft tissue injuries include any damage to your ligaments, tendons, and muscles throughout your body. The jolt of the accident can cause these injuries. More serious injuries may require surgery or long-term physical therapy for your recovery. These costs should be added to the value of your settlement.
Herniated discs occur when the tissue located in between your vertebrae is damaged. It causes severe chronic back or neck pain and may limit your back and neck mobility. Recovery can be slow and require intense physical therapy or surgery, adding to your economic damages from the accident. The median disc injury award in California is $84,550.
Shoulder strains and rotator cuff injuries are common from accidents. They may require physical therapy and longer-term treatment. You can be compensated for these medical expenses in your settlement and need to add the costs to your settlement value.
Car Accident Settlement Calculator
A car accident settlement calculator can help you determine the amount of economic damages you may be eligible to receive. An estimated value of your car accident claim is created once you enter detailed information about your accident.
Your accident claim estimate is based on:
- The cost of damage done to your car or other property
- Your out of pocket and covered medical bills to date
- An estimate of your future medical bills
- Amount of lost wages to date
- Estimates of your future lost wages
The calculator provides you with a rough estimate of how much you can get from your car accident. It was developed by experienced accident attorneys and should only be taken as an approximate value. You may receive more or less than the amount calculated by this tool.
A settlement calculator is a great starting point, but consulting with your attorney is important. They can take every factor of your accident into account and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Client Car Accident Settlement FAQs
How long does it take to get a car accident settlement?
The time it takes to get a settlement after your car accident varies, and if you’re dealing with more serious cases or asking for a large settlement, your case may take longer. According to a national survey, it takes just under 11 months on average to receive a settlement from your car accident case. Successful claims take longer, so it’s not a bad thing to have to wait.
Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?
Car accident settlements can take a long time because fault and negligence have to be determined. It takes time for police reports to be filed and for your lawyer to gather the evidence to support your case.
Settlements take even longer in accidents with serious injuries. Ongoing medical treatment can cause delays in cases. It may also take longer if your lawyer is negotiating better terms for your settlement.
How much to expect from a car accident settlement?
Car accident settlements have an average payout of $15,443 when they involve injuries and $3,231 when there is only property damage. Your settlement will vary and depend on the specific terms of your accident. A car accident settlement calculator and a lawyer can help you determine an estimate for your case.
Do I need to go to physical therapy to receive a settlement?
No, you don’t have to attend physical therapy to receive a settlement. You can receive a settlement even if you weren’t injured in your accident. For those injured and who need physical therapy, the cost of your treatment should be factored into the value of your settlement and the compensation you receive.
Will my car accident case go to court?
Most likely no as most car accident cases are settled out of court, with only 2% of successful cases going to trial. Cases that go to trial take longer, and many people settle to avoid court.
How can I get more money from a car accident settlement?
To get the most money from your settlement, seek immediate medical attention and contact an attorney as soon as possible. Keep all records and receipts that document your injuries and property damage. Your lawyer can help you preserve evidence and file your claim quickly. Don’t accept the first settlement offered; use it to negotiate a larger one.
Is my car accident settlement taxable?
Injury based settlements are typically not taxed as income, and therefore often are not taxed. Wage based settlements can be taxed. The IRS has strict guidelines on what kinds of settlements are included in your income and are taxable. We suggest you consult with a tax advisor and licensed Certified Public Accountant regarding all tax questions.
Car Accident Settlement Agreement Form & Insurance Claim Settlement
Settlements in California require both parties to sign a Section 1542 waiver. Signing this waiver releases liability and the dispute. You won’t receive your settlement without signing the waiver, but you should be cautious.
Have your lawyer present throughout the process to ensure your rights are still protected. Sometimes the waivers from insurance companies include language preventing you from seeking claims from unforeseeable future injuries.
Car Accident Settlement Process
Most car accident cases are resolved through settlements and not the court process. You need to take certain steps to file a lawsuit and receive a settlement after a car accident.
Car accident lawsuit process
In California, you have a 2 year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for personal injuries against private defendants. This means that literally two years from the date of your car accident a lawsuit must have been filed with the correct courthouse or else you will forever be barred from doing so. If your case involves a public entity defendant, then you must file a claim form with each public entity’s office and file a lawsuit within 6 months from the date of their denial letter. All claims involving public entities are denied thereby forcing you to file a lawsuit, and these cases have strict administrative guidelines that you must follow correctly. If you do not, your case can be challenged and the public entity lawyers will do whatever they can to dismiss your case. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer will help avoid such issues.
Once a lawsuit is filed, you must serve it upon all defendants. After serving the lawsuit, defendants will have 30 days approximately to file their answers. They sometimes have more time depending on how they were served and whether an extension is agreed by the lawyers to give them more time. After all defendants have filed their answers, the discovery process ensues. Written discovery questions are exchanged and answered, then oral depositions are taken of parties and witnesses, and thereafter expert discovery is conducted to prepare the case for trial.
Before a case goes to trial, the lawyers on both sides typically try to settle the case at mediation. A mediation is a non-binding settlement conference where the lawyers do their best to get a fair resolution for their clients. If the case settles, then the lawsuit ends and is dismissed in exchange for the settlement money. If it doesn’t settle, then the case is worked up to prepare for trial, although the case will settle typically unless there are serious liability or damage issues.
What helps in car accident lawsuits? Having a police report with all the drivers’ information including their identifiers and automobile insurance details. This is why we always ask that you call the police at the scene of a car accident and report it to the local police station so they can come and take a detailed report.
Car accident court process
Most car accident claims settle out of court because the trial process takes a long time. Cases with jury trials also tend to award smaller amounts than victims can achieve through settlements.
Your lawyer will work hard to settle your claim out of court, but occasionally the insurance company won’t budge, and you’ll need to take the case to court. Your lawyer may advise you to go to trial if the settlement offer isn’t proportionate to your case or if your claim was denied.
Car accident claim process
Settlements allow you to resolve your claim without going to court. Your lawyer can meet with legal representatives from the car insurance company to negotiate the terms of your settlement. The terms of your settlement help you recover financial losses from your accident and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering you experienced.
Gather evidence and information with your lawyer that supports your claim. This includes medical records, receipts from treatments, photos of the accident and your injuries, and witness testimony.
You’ll use this information to write a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter is your claim, and it describes the injuries you experienced and the amount of damages you’re hoping to recover. The insurance company will review your letter and investigate your case before making a decision.
If your claim is accepted, you’ll receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. You can negotiate your settlement with the insurance company until you’re both happy with its terms. If your claim is denied, you won’t receive a settlement offer and will have to appeal your case to the insurance company or take your case to court.
Car Accident Settlement Stories
Settlements from car accidents vary on a case-by-case basis. Car accident and settlement examples can help you find information about cases similar to yours.
- “I was involved in a traffic incident where I was not at fault back in October 2018. I went on Yelp and found this firm and knew I had to contact Narbeh with all the positive reviews. I wholeheartedly recommend the Shirvanian Firm. If you ever find yourself in a less than fortunate situation, rest assured that these guys (and gals) have your back and your best interest in mind.” – Jonathan L.
- “I want to thank the Shirvanian law firm for all they have done for me and all the help. They help with all the insurance contact and we’re always responsive, whenever we had any questions. They will always be my go-to’s law firm from now on. I want to send a special thanks to Narbeh for his assistance through this hard time and his knowledge.” -Danny C.
Google My Business Reviews
- “The Attorney was very professional and honest. The attorney got me the maximum settlement. He was very dedicated to my case. The office was very responsive and always communicated with me to provide me with updates. I was very satisfied and would highly recommend him to anyone who has been involved in a car accident.” -Fredrick M.
- “Was in a car crash a few years ago and the SHIRVANIAN law firm completely took care of me. Went to the chiropractor and had x-rays done. Didn’t have to pay a penny; they won my case and I got a nice check! Thank you for everything guys!” – Louisiana J.
Average Car Accident Lawsuit Settlement
The average car accident lawsuit settlement ranges anywhere from $3,000 to $75,000, depending on the factors of your case. Your settlement may be lower or higher than the average amount based on the circumstances of your accidents. Your settlement is based on economic and non-economic damages you incurred as a result of the accident.
Economic damages include your current and future medical bills, financial losses, and property damages. Non-economic damages are harder to quantify and include the pain and suffering, stress, and reduced quality of life following your accident.
How Shirvanian Law Can Help
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, you may want legal assistance to help file your claim. Your paperwork must be filled out and filed correctly, and insurance companies don’t always cooperate. Without legal help, you may be losing out on the settlement money you deserve.
Consider hiring an attorney from Shirvanian Law Firm. Our car accident and personal injury lawyers understand the emotional stress and physical pain car accidents cause. We have the experience needed to negotiate with insurance companies and gather evidence of driver negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.