How Much Can Someone Sue for After a Car Accident in California?

by Staff Blogger | October 3rd, 2022

If you’re in a car accident resulting in injuries, you may incur medical bills and repair costs for your vehicle. You may also have to take time off work to recover, leading to lost wages and financial struggles.

If the at-fault driver causes you injuries or property damage in California, you may be able to sue for damages. The amount you receive depends on various factors, such as the cost of your medical treatment and the emotional distress the accident caused.

Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer from Berg Injury Lawyers can help you understand how much you can sue for after your accident and how to maximize compensation.

Types of Damages in a Car Accident Claim

California law allows injured parties to recover economic damages for out-of-pocket expenses and bills. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Job loss
  • Repair or replacement costs
  • Household help expenses

Non-economic damages may also be recoverable for personal hardships resulting from your injuries. A few of the damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of consortium
  • Humiliation and injury to reputation

Average Car Accident Settlement Amount

The Insurance Information Institute reported that car liability claims for property damage averaged $3,841 in 2018. Liability claims for bodily injuries cost an average of $15,785.

Factors That Affect the Amount of Car Accident Settlements

Several factors determine the amount of your car accident compensation. They include:

  • The at-fault driver’s insurance coverage for injuries and property damage
  • The severity of your injuries and if they required extensive medical treatment
  • Psychological treatment for pain and suffering you received after the accident
  • Damage to your vehicle, such as a cracked windshield, personal property damaged inside the car
  • The length of time you were out of work and the amount of lost income suffered during your recovery

How Car Accident Settlements Are Calculated

The insurance company and your legal team calculate your car accident settlement. Both parties examine the following elements to come to a reasonable amount:

  • Expenses associated with car or property damage
  • Ongoing medical expenses, including medical bills, prescriptions, and physical therapy
  • Future medical bills based on your medical records and your doctor’s treatment plan
  • Pain and suffering calculated using your medical records and personal statements
  • Amount of lost wages and future loss wages based on your income tax returns and pay stubs before the accident

The insurance company is typically the first to calculate a settlement. They will offer you a starting amount you can accept or refuse. If the insurer tries to give you a low offer, your lawyer can help you negotiate for a higher settlement based on the circumstances of your accident.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Car Accident Settlement?

Negotiating a fair car accident settlement between your attorney and the other driver’s insurance company can take several months to over a year. A 2015 study from The National Center for State Courts found that settling a case took an average of 478 days. The time to settle your claim can vary based on your insurer’s investigation of your injury claim and calculation of your settlement.

Steps to Take to Prove You Are Not at Fault

The auto insurance company may try to reduce your settlement by saying you are partially or fully at fault for the accident. California follows pure comparative negligence to determine liability for each party involved in an accident. Your percentage of fault can reduce your damages. For instance, if you are 20% responsible for the collision, you may see a 20% reduction in the damages you receive.

The following steps are crucial in gathering evidence to reduce your liability for the accident:

  • Contact the police to report the accident so that they can record the circumstances and help determine liability
  • Document the accident scene, including vehicle damage, accident debris, traffic lights, and the weather
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver
  • Get the contact information for witnesses who can give details about the accident
  • Avoid talking about the case with anyone other than a lawyer, and avoid posting on social media
  • Hire an attorney to obtain witness testimony and additional evidence like dash cam videos and surveillance footage

Discuss Your Case with a California Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident, the car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have over 40 years of experience and can help you get fair compensation. We can evaluate your case in a free initial consultation.

Contact us today to book a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, and let us help you get started on your case.