What is a Reasonable Settlement Offer After an Accident?

by Staff Blogger | February 7th, 2022

In California, you can seek compensation for your injuries after being in a car accident. But what is a reasonable settlement amount?

Each case differs, making it challenging to provide an exact quote without knowing the details of your accident and the extent of your injuries.

Depending on the extent of the injury-related damages they’ve suffered, victims can demand amounts ranging from a few thousand dollars for minor-to-moderate injuries to millions of dollars for life-altering, catastrophic injuries.

Understanding the factors affecting your claim can help you determine its value, so you don’t accept a lower settlement than you deserve. Improve your chances of receiving a fair payout with the guidance of California car accident lawyers.

Factors Affecting Your Settlement Amount

California is a pure comparative fault state, meaning you can file a suit to recover compensation for an accident, even if you are partially to blame. In pure comparative negligence states, even if you are 99% at-fault for the accident, you can still recover the remaining 1% of damages. You cannot file a claim if you are 100% responsible for the accident.

California Civil Code §1431.2 allows car accident victims to file for compensation for economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are monetary losses that you can prove, including:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of employment
  • Medical bills
  • Property damage, including the cost of repair or replacement
  • Loss of property if your vehicle gets totaled
  • Burial expenses when a wrongful death occurs

Non-economic damages are harder to prove and are less quantifiable. These personal losses have no verifiable monetary values and include:

  • Mental suffering
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship or consortium
  • Injury to reputation
  • Inconvenience
  • Humiliation

How to Calculate a Car Accident Settlement

When trying to figure out how much money you should attempt to collect after a car accident, consider these criteria.

Estimation of property damage

Determine your vehicle’s loss of value. Then, calculate repair costs to make your vehicle operational. If your car is damaged beyond repair, estimate the value of the loss of property using the TLF (total loss formula).

Add the cost of repairs to the scrap value of the vehicle. If this number is equal to, or exceeds, the ACV (actual cash value) of the car prior to the accident, insurers in California consider your vehicle a total loss.

Extent of injuries

You’re also entitled to seek compensation for injuries sustained during the accident. The extent of your injuries and prognosis for recovery significantly affect your settlement.

The more severe or long-term the injury, the more money you can claim for medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Potential injuries include:

  • Back injuries like herniated or bulging discs, spinal cord injuries (paralysis)
  • Concussions and more severe TBIs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Whiplash
  • Broken bones

Recovery time

Your recovery time following the accident can also affect your compensation. For example, you can claim lost wages due to time away from work while you’re recovering.

Pain and suffering

You can seek a sum for the physical pain you experienced due to injury. Besides claiming loss of enjoyment of life due to physical pain, it’s possible to ask for a settlement based on mental suffering. Conditions like PTSD or other mental diagnoses that are a direct result of the accident fall into this category if they impact your ability to function.

Insurance companies use multiple types of documentation to determine your pain and suffering.

  • Medical records
  • Pictures of your injuries
  • Journals or notes kept for your doctor documenting your injuries and recovery

When someone has suffered serious injuries, doing all of this alone can be overwhelming. It’s extremely difficult to manage your own injury claim, which is why hiring a personal injury attorney can make such a big difference in the compensation you receive.

Don’t Take the First Offer

After an accident, most insurance adjusters offer to settle, giving you access to quick cash. But it’s likely to be far less than your claim is worth.

It’s better to wait until you’ve healed or reached MMI (maximum medical improvement) so you can more accurately anticipate your future expenses and non-economic losses resulting from the injury. Then your lawyer can estimate the amount your claim is worth.

Working with an experienced accident lawyer can help you get the money you deserve. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we have decades of experience advocating for fair compensation for accident victims just like you. We know when to settle and can fight to help ensure you don’t accept a settlement offer that’s lower than you deserve.

Rely on Berg Injury Lawyers to Help With Your Accident Settlement

If you’ve been in an accident, don’t risk losing money by handling a settlement alone. Instead, contact Berg Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with knowledgeable car accident lawyers in California. We can evaluate your unique case to determine the value of your claim and fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.