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Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts in California

Posted by Siamak Vaziri | Feb 15, 2024 | 0 Comments

Car accidents have the potential to leave victims and their families with significant medical expenses and other damages from which it could take months or even years to recover. The fact that an injured person cannot work makes the financial burdens victims and families face even more difficult to bear in the aftermath of a car accident.

This is why many car accident victims wonder what type of monetary settlement they can expect in their car accident case. This is a crucial question. And the answer depends on the types of injuries, damages and losses a victim has sustained and the degree of negligence on the part of others who were involved in the accident.

No two car accident claims are alike. An experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer can help you evaluate your losses and determine what your injury claim is worth.

Key Points - Table of Contents

Average Car Accident Settlement Amounts Received in California

Car accidents have the potential to leave victims with significant medical expenses, lost income and other damages. When you are severely injured, you may not be able to work for an extended period of time, which makes it more challenging to pay your bills. The average car accident settlement could vary depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

Recent U.S. data show that a large number of car accident cases settle for between $14,000 and $28,000 with the average amount around $21,000. However, these numbers may not mean anything for your specific case. The value or worth of your car accident claim is determined by a number of factors including the nature and severity of your injuries, extent of property damage, long-term damage or disabilities, and the degree of negligence on the part of the defendant.

At Vaziri Law Group, the average settlement received by our clients is significantly higher. Take a look at some of our settlements below.

It is important to remember that you should never rush into a settlement before you have discussed your case with a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer. Settling your case too soon could mean that you may not be able to file future claims or seek compensation of future injury-related treatments you may require such as surgery. So, do not sign any agreements without first discussing them with your attorney.

Car accident settlement evaluation with two cars

According to settlement data from across the United States, most reported cases generally settle for between $14,321 and $28,215. The average is around $21,000.

Average Car Accident Settlement Payouts by Injuries

The value or worth of a car accident settlement depends on the type of severity of the injury you suffer in a crash. Accident settlements involving injuries are typically higher than crashes where there is only property damage. Those who are injured in California car accidents receive an average settlement of $30,000, but that number could vary significantly based on your injuries and damages.

Back and neck injuries: This could range from pain and lack of motion to life-changing injuries. Even minor strains could lead to chronic pain that could make it difficult for you to work or even perform everyday activities. Major spinal cord injuries could result in significant settlements. The median settlement for neck and back injuries is about $11,000.

Soft tissue injuries: This refers to injuries that cause damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons throughout the body. These types of injuries often involve extensive rehabilitation such as physical therapy. These costs should also be added to the value of your car accident settlement.

Joint injuries: Car accidents also result in injuries to joints such as shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. These types of injuries also often require rehabilitation and maybe even long-term therapy.

Herniated disc: These types of injuries occur when the tissues between the vertebrae become damaged. Herniated disc injuries result in chronic pain and could limit mobility. Recovery can be slow, which means you may not be able to work for an extended period of time. The median injury award in California for herniated disc injuries is around $85,000.What You Should Know About Securing a Car Accident Settlement

What to Do If There Is An Accident

After a car accident, you may be a little confused about what steps you should next take. One of the first things you should do if you have suffered injuries in the accident is to contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer who can get to work right away in terms of collecting and compiling crucial evidence and dealing with insurance companies. Another step you will have to take right after the car accident is to call your auto insurance company to report the accident.

If you have been involved in a car accident, here are the steps to take to make sure your rights are protected:

  • Stop and remain at the scene of the accident, even if you believe you were not at fault.
  • Pull over to a spot that is safe. Make sure you and your passengers are in a secure location.
  • Call 911 if anyone has been injured. Call the police even if there are no serious injuries so you can generate an official report with details of the investigation. Obtain a copy of this report for your records.
  • Get as much evidence as possible from the scene including photos, videos and eyewitness statements. If you cannot obtain this information, ask a family member or friend if they can get it for you.
  • Exchange information with the other parties including insurance details, driver's license, names and contact information.
  • Notify the insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Seek medical attention right away even if you don't believe you've been seriously injured. Doing so can help show evidence of the injuries you sustained and the treatment you sought.
  • Contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer who can help protect your rights and ensure that valuable evidence is preserved.

What Not To Do

One mistake car accident victims usually make is to accept the first settlement the insurance company offers. This is often a lowball offer that is likely not enough to cover all your losses. You may not even know the full extent of your losses for several months. For example, you may need surgery or ongoing treatment for your injuries. If you settle too soon, you may not be able to seek compensation for those injury-related costs. In other words, you may have to pay your future medical bills out of pocket.

When you retain the services of the experienced car accident attorneys at the Vaziri Law Group, we will spring into action right away by collecting and compiling evidence including police reports, employment records, all medical bills, property damage estimates, etc. We will help you determine an approximate settlement amount for your case by examining the evidence as well as the facts of your case.

Car Accident Settlement Agreement Form and Insurance Claim Settlement

In California, parties to a car accident settlement are required to sign a Section 1542 waiver. Section 1542 of the California Civil Code is designed to protect individuals from being denied rights to claims about which they don't know yet. This waiver essentially states that a general release of future claims does not cover claims that the person is not aware of when signing the release.

For example, if you are collecting compensation for a car accident settlement, the insurance company may offer a lump sum settlement that releases them from future liabilities for your injuries. If you do that, you may not be able to bring about additional claims. What is important to remember is that a 1542 waiver is a blanket waiver that, if signed, wipes out any future claims you could bring against a defendant, regardless of what you knew at the time of signing.

It is a waiver of known and unknown injuries and damages. While you will receive your car accident settlement if you refuse to sign this waiver, it is important to exercise caution. Make sure you have your lawyer present throughout the process to make sure your rights are protected. Be aware that sometimes, waivers from insurance companies may include language that prohibits you from seeking compensation for future injuries that may not be foreseeable. An experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer will look out for your best interests and help you avoid these pitfalls.

Car Accidents by Settlement Types

The type of car accident in which you were involved can have an impact on the settlement amount. Some types of car accidents have the potential to cause major injuries and significant property damage. These types of incidents will typically result in larger car accident settlements.

Minor Car Accidents

Even car accidents that are described or categorized as "minor," such as a fender-bender, could result in injuries and vehicle damage. In such cases, settlements could average a few thousand dollars. These settlements will help victims pay for the medical care they need and funds to repair the car.

Rear-end and T-bone Car Accidents

These types of car accidents often result in much more serious injuries and may result in your car being totaled. Also known as side-impact or broadside crashes, T-bone accidents typically occur at street intersections. Rear-end accidents are often caused by distracted drivers. Those who are injured in such serious accidents stand to receive higher settlements than those who are injured in relatively minor crashes. The settlement amount will hinge on the nature and severity of your injuries. Settlements may range from $100,000 to millions of dollars if the injuries are catastrophic.

Head-on Collisions

Like rear-end and T-bone collisions, head-on collisions could also result in catastrophic or even fatal injuries. Because these crashes happen at high speeds, the damage can be much more severe and settlement amounts could be even higher.

Factors That Might Affect Settlement Value

Car accident settlement values on paper

Here are some of the key factors that could affect the value of your car accident settlement:

Severity of the Injuries:

Car accident injury claims that involve major or catastrophic injuries typically result in larger settlements because they require more medical treatment and rehabilitation, and also tend to have a more significant impact on the victim's quality of life. Examples of such injuries include brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, internal injuries and limb amputations.

Medical bills:

If your injuries are more severe, your medical bills are likely to be higher as well. Whether or not you need ongoing medical care or treatment as well as other factors such as disabilities, scarring and your age could determine the value of your car accident settlement.

Circumstances of the Accident:

Other parties' negligence could also make your settlement amount higher. For example, if another driver caused the crash by driving under the influence, that makes the circumstances egregious. In some cases, victims may also receive punitive damages, which is separate from compensatory damages. Punitive damages are typically awarded in cases where the defendant has engaged in negligence or wrongdoing that could be considered egregious or outrageous.

Lost Wages:

If your injury prevents you from working – whether it is temporary or permanent – that loss should be factored into your settlement amount. The impact of your injury on your career, your capacity to earn and your overall ability to make a livelihood – are other factors that should be taken into account.

Non-economic Damages:

In addition to the monetary damages you sustain, there are also other repercussions such as physical pain, emotional anguish and the loss of life's enjoyment, which are referred to as "non-economic damages."


The stronger your evidence is, the more likely your settlement amount will be higher. This is because the other side will know that they cannot prevail against you if the case goes to trial. This is why it is important to get an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer involved earlier so they can collect critical evidence ranging from police reports and medical records to surveillance video or eyewitness statements that will help strengthen your claim.

Tips to Help You Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement

There are a number of actions you can take to increase the value of your car accident settlement:

Get prompt medical attention. If you are hoping to get maximum compensation for your losses, it is crucial that you receive prompt medical attention. Documenting your injuries is critical because it will show that the accident directly caused your injuries.

Maintain copies of your employment records. Your settlement will typically include lost income. So it is important that you keep records including paystubs, statements from your employer that describe your pay rate and time sheets.

Don't accept a lowball offer. Insurance companies often try to get away from paying maximum compensation by extending a lowball offer to victims. Do not accept the first offer the insurance company makes. Take advice from your lawyer to protect your best interest.

Don't forget future damages. Maximizing your injury settlement also means that you consider how your injury might affect your future. For example, you may need surgery or ongoing treatment. You may have lost your ability to earn money. These elements need to be factored into your car accident settlement.

Stay away from social media. Any information you put online can work against you getting the best settlement in your case. Do not discuss the details of your accident or injuries online. Keep a low profile until you receive your settlement.

Car Accident Settlement Calculator

A car accident settlement calculator can help victims and their families get a good idea of the types of economic damages they may be able to recover. Economic damages are those damages for which you can be compensated, which means they are quantifiable and can be substantiated with evidence such as documentation. You can come up with an estimated value of your car accident claim only after you compile detailed information about your accident, including the losses you have incurred.

Your car accident settlement will typically be based on the following information:

  • The cost of damage to your car and other property
  • Your medical bills including emergency room costs, hospitalization, cost of surgery, medication, medical equipment, etc.
  • Cost of future medical bills including the cost of ongoing treatments
  • Amount of wages you have lost due to inability to work
  • Loss of earning capacity if you have been disabled

This calculator will help you arrive at a rough estimate of how much you can seek in terms of compensatory damages for your car accident. However, it is important to note that this type of calculation can only give you an approximate value of your claim. While a settlement calculator is a good starting point, an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer will be able to help you take all factors into consideration to produce a more accurate evaluation.

Car Accident Settlement Process

A majority of car accident cases are resolved through out-of-court settlements, which means a very small percentage of these cases actually go to trial. The process to obtain a settlement in your car accident case is as follows:

Filing a lawsuit: In California, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for personal injury is two years. This means, you have two years (in most cases) to file a lawsuit in civil court. If your case involved a government entity, you have six months to file your notice of claim. Once the lawsuit is filed and served, defendants have 30 days to file their responses.

Discovery: The discovery process is where both parties interview witnesses during depositions and exchange information including evidence to be presented during the trial.

Mediation: This is the step before the case goes to trial when lawyers try to settle the case. A mediation is a non-binding settlement conference where lawyers attempt to get a fair resolution for their clients. If mediation does not yield a settlement, the case will move toward trial.

While some cases do end up in trial, most cases settle before that. You need an experienced lawyer who is a skilled negotiator on your side who can help you get the best possible settlement.

Car Accident Settlement Stories

Here are some personal stories and testimonials shared by Vaziri Law Group's clients:

Yelp Testimonials

"I was in a car accident on the freeway from someone reckless driving and my car was totalled, The car insurance I had did me wrong and I have medical bills to pay for and the driver that hit me did not have any insurance. This law firm has amazing employees that ACTUALLY CARE it's very rare to find a law firm like this. They worked as fast as possible and never gave up on me. Again thank you guys from the bottom of my heart!"

-- Angel A.

"I was rear-ended three years ago. I was referred to Vaziri Law Group.  Once I called them they immediately took care of my son and I. Yosi, Kayvan and Ruth were quick to respond and really had our best interest at heart. They were a godsend. I am sure it is a whole team of people. Everybody was very professional and insightful. I was referred to top-notch chiropractors and specialists to care for my injuries.When it came time to take my case to the next level Rahmin Vaziri walked us thru it with knowledge and grace which led to a great outcome."

-- Elisabeth Georgia G.

Google My Business Reviews

"I've never had such a great experience with any other law firm. I feel like the attorneys here really cared about my case and were always available to talk to me about it when I needed them. I would HIGHLY recommend them to anyone who has been involved in an accident and needs an honest attorney to represent them. Literally the best. Thank you Attorney Siamak and team for your help!"

-- Sophia Flores

"After being involved in a severe car accident, I spoke with Rahmin, from Vaziri Law Group. I have nothing but good things to say about their team. Rahmin was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and supportive about my situation. He instantly made me feel at ease, by reassuring me that he would handle my case. Rahmin and his team provided excellent service, by demonstrating professionalism and personal attention to my case and everything I needed, keeping me updated throughout the whole process. Thank you for picking up my case and taking care of me."

-- Lalo Theloc

Client Car Accident Settlement FAQs

How long does it take to secure a car accident settlement?

This time could vary. If you have been severely injured, you case could take longer. Typically it could take about a year to receive a settlement.

How much can I expect from a car accident settlement?

If you have only incurred property damage, your settlement may be lower than if you suffered injuries. The more serious your injuries, the larger your settlement is likely to be. An experienced car accident lawyer can help assess the accurate value of your claim.

Do I need to get physical therapy to receive a settlement?

It is not necessary to go to physical therapy in order to receive a settlement. However, if you need physical therapy, you need to include the value of that into your settlement because these are often out-of-pocket costs.

Will my case go to court?

A vast majority of car accidents are settled out of court. However, some cases to go to court. When you retain the services of a lawyer, it is important to choose someone who is an excellent negotiator and a skilled trial attorney who can take your case to court, if necessary.

How can I get more money from a car accident settlement?

In order to maximize your settlement, it is important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Be sure to keep all documentation relating to your injuries and property damage.

Is my car accident settlement taxable?

While injury car accident settlements are not taxed as income, wage-based settlements could be taxed. It is best to consult with a tax advisor and licensed CPA regarding any tax questions you may have.

Importance of a Car Accident Lawyer

Vaziri Law Group Personal Injury Attorneys Team

Car accident statistics show that victims and families who retain the services of a knowledgeable car accident lawyer tend to receive substantially more compensation compared to those who don't. At the Vaziri Law Group, APC our team will take every possible step to help support you through these challenging times – from ensuring that you get the healthcare you need to collecting evidence and doing everything in our power to secure maximum compensation for your losses.

How long does a car accident settlement take? We offer a free initial consultation and don't collect any fees until you receive compensation for your losses. Call us at (310) 777-7540 to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.

About the Author

Siamak Vaziri

Attorney Siamak Vaziri’s mission is to help make his clients whole by obtaining maximum physical, emotional, and financial recovery. Mr. Vaziri’s clients' needs come first, evidenced by his 98% success rate, more than $1 Billion in client settlements and verdicts, as well as 100+ 5-star reviews. Mr. Vaziri invests every resource to nurture his client and partner relationships and does so with integrity and a relentless work ethic.


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