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What Is My Car Accident Settlement Worth in California?

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California has some of the most congested highways in the United States and, of course, this means some of the highest rates of auto accidents. As a Californian resident, you are most likely to be involved in an accident that results in an insurance claim every 6.5 years.

California residents are 52.8% more likely than the national average to be involved in a traffic accident. These numbers are staggering and make it vital for residents to understand, “What is my car accident settlement worth in California?”

Do I Need a Lawyer For My Car Accident Settlement?

Get expert advice immediately. If by an unfortunate turn of events, you have suffered an injury or pain following a car crash, you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. The process of traffic accident claims is a minefield for inexperienced people – police reports, insurance papers, etc., are very confusing.

It is assumed that insurance companies, at least in theory, should monitor the process fairly, but consistently they put their needs ahead of those of the victims. Hiring a lawyer to go through this process with you ensures that your needs are put first, which means personalized attention and recovery of maximum compensation for all losses sustained during a traffic accident.

Above all, do not accept any payment or deposit from the insurance company, refrain from signing any document, or allowing a recorded telephone interview on the events, until you have spoken with a lawyer that has experience in these matters. Under Californian Civil Law, any of these type of acts could jeopardize your ability to receive full compensation for your damages.

Remember: The other people involved may be nice or even charming, but do not trust them.

How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering in Car Accident Cases?

Personal injury claims and car accidents have varying degrees of worth when it comes to settlement amounts.

The question of how much an average auto accident settlement is worth, is one of the more frequently asked questions and the most difficult one to answer, but we can show you some personal injury settlement examples, or even motorcycle accident compensation examples, in line with your case.

Car and motorcycle accident settlement amounts, as well as the chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit, can vary greatly depending on many factors, so it makes more sense to establish what you would be entitled to and then discuss the actual damages with a lawyer. Typically, traffic accident victims are eligible to receive compensation for the following reasons:

  1. Medical bills and hospital expenses, including future medical costs
  2. Rehab
  3. Wages lost and loss of economic capacity
  4. Property damage
  5. Pain and suffering

In order to help your own case, it is vital that you keep detailed records. The loss of working time and wages, pain and suffering, limitations incurred because of the accident, and all out-of-pocket expenses (such as transportation and medicines) should be meticulously documented in order to give strength to any claim you are planning to make.

Additionally, strictly follow all doctor’s orders. Failure to do so could be used as evidence by another person to prove that your injuries and suffering are less severe than what you are claiming. All these factors play a key role in how much to expect from your claim. An insurance adjuster will more often accept a report of pain and discomfort as true when your doctor writes it down and it becomes documented in your medical records, in turn helping increase the car accident compensation you are eligible for.

How Much Do You Get For Pain and Suffering?

If you suffered a serious injury during a car crash, you will have to demonstrate that the other driver irresponsibly drove the car or that a defect in the vehicle or on the road caused the accident. A vehicle accident is an extremely complex incident which often requires the analysis of an accident reconstruction expert to determine things such as:

  • The dynamics of the vehicle
  • Speed, visibility, and force of crash
  • The impact angle compared to the injury
  • Traffic signal synchronization
  • Road surface conditions
  • Even road design (a problem that might require the supervision from the local or state government or a construction company).

Finding out who is responsible for a traffic accident in California can be a lot of work. In addition, to get a fair compensation to cover the cost of your injuries, the time you spend dealing with your medical bills and liens, your car damage, and any negative impact that the accident may have on the rest of your life, you need lawyers with extensive legal experience in finding all possible defendants, in order to increase their compensation for damages.

Avrek Law includes accident investigators and insurance claim negotiators who know how to win a personal injury claim and ensure maximum compensation for clients’ traffic accident claims. For additional information on what to do after a bad car accident check out our blog or contact Avrek Law.

Common Ways To Calculate Pain and Suffering

The most popular method is to just add up the special damages (easy economic losses to calculate) and multiply those by a number between 1.5 and 5 (on the high end). The second number (the multiplier) does depend on a bunch of things related to your vehicle accident case, including:

  • Chances for complete and quick recovery
  • Seriousness of your injuries
  • Impact of your injuries on daily life
  • Was other party clearly at fault

The multiplier method is believed to be the algorithm used most often by insurance companies. Of course, the main focal point in negotiating settlements will be the multiplier used. You, as the accident victim, would argue for a higher multiplier while the defendant (aka their insurer) will of course want to use a lower multiplier.

Use A Daily Rate

The other typical approach to calculating pain and suffering is known as the “per diem” method. The per day idea is to request a certain dollar amount for each day you had to live with pain that was due to your car accident.

The tricky part with this approach is justifying what daily rate you choose to use. Safest way is to use a “reasonable” daily rate that corresponds with your actual daily earnings. Note: These methods above are only used to give you an idea, and don’t guarantee or translate to what your actual case outcome might be.

How Expensive Is It to Make a Claim?

The fees to make a claim in California will vary depending on many factors. Here is a list to guide you through your possible options and legal bureaucratic process that could cost you some money and time.

79Filing claim for $1,500 or lessCCP 116.230(b)(1)$30
80Filing claim for more than $1,500 but less than or equal to $5,000CCP 116.230(b)(2)$50
81Filing claim for more than $5,000 but less than or equal to $10,000 (claim by natural persons only, with certain exceptions)CCP 116.230(b)(3);
CCP 116.221
82Filing claim by person who has filed more than 12 small claims in California within the previous 12 monthsCCP 116.230(c)$100
83Amendment raising amount of claim from $1,500 or less to more than $1,500 but not exceeding $5,000CCP 116.230(d)(1)$20
84Amendment raising amount of claim from more than $1,500 but not exceeding $5,000 to more than $5,000 but not exceeding $10,000 (claim by natural persons only, with certain exceptions)CCP 116.230(d)(2);
CCP 116.221
85Amendment raising amount of claim from $1,500 or less to more than $5,000 but not exceeding $10,000 (claim by natural persons only, with certain exceptions)CCP 116.230(d)(3);
CCP 116.221
86Service by clerk for certified mail, to each defendantCCP 116.232$15*
87Transfer of case out of small claims court (defendant’s claim exceeding jurisdictional limit) (no receiving court filing or transfer fee)CCP 116.390No fee
88Request for postponement of hearing, if defendant has been servedCCP 116.570$10
89Notice of appeal of small claims caseCCP 116.760$75
90Petition for writCCP 116.798$75
91Motion to vacateCCP 116.745$20
92Fee for payment of judgment to courtCCP 116.860$20
93Application for order of examination of judgment debtorGC 70617(a)(6),
CCP 116.820
94Writ of executionGC 70626(a)(1),
CCP 116.820
95Abstract of judgmentGC 70626(a)(2),
CCP 116.820

Avrek Law accepts no win no fee personal injury cases, which means you do not have to pay for legal fees unless your claim is successfully resolved. At that point, you pay a percentage of the total compensation or settlement. The percentage is agreed when you make the decision to hire us as your legal representatives.

If the case is not won or is not resolved, you do not pay any legal fees.

What Matters Most When Dealing With a Settlement?

Most of the injured (whiplash, internal injuries, head injury, etc.) are interested in knowing “how much to expect from a traffic accident” or if the offer from the insurance company is average, for this reason we like to be clear with our clients when referring to what matters and what does not when evaluating the real value of the claim they should make.

  1. Evolution of injuries: Many injured car accident victims contact a law firm the same week of the accident or within days of the accident. Each person recovers differently from the same injury, so the calculation will depend on the healing time.
  2. Location of the injuries: Injuries are valued by the Californian law in a scale that corresponds to each type according to its seriousness; for this reason, a person who has a limitation of mobility on the shoulder will not get the same compensation as a person who only hurt his shoulder. That is why medical documentation and testing are so important.
  1. Medical expert: In order to file a lawsuit in civil court, the best choice is to allow the intervention of a Medical Expert, external to insurers. The medical professional who specializes in the assessment of bodily harm will be in charge of “translating” into legal language the medical language of the supporting documents provided by the victim.
  2. Witnesses: People who were there at the time of the motor vehicle accident will help your case. They will provide the visual evidence that could help increase the value of your car accident lawsuit settlement.
  3. Types of insurance: The type of insurance owned by the other persons involved in the car crash will heavily influence what claims can you make.

What Doesn’t Matter When Dealing With a Settlement?

  1. There is no if; the law only works with facts, so you cannot argue things like “I could have died,” “I almost died,” or “What if…” These kind of arguments will not help your case at all.
  2. Falling behind in bills: The court will not care if you are running out of money because of the claim, so be prepared to spend whatever time is necessary to win.
  3. I do not have my car while I await my judgement: the law only cares about the matter at hand; your personal issues beyond the car crash are of little concern to the judge.

How Long to Settle a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The ideal time to contact a personal injury lawyer is immediately after the accident. There are a number of factors that can determine how long a car accident case settlement might take. The best way to understand the process is to read about the “stages” along the way.

Stages of a Claim

There are several stages for a personal injury claim before its conclusion. The initial stage depends on the length of the client’s recovery from their injuries.

The end of this stage is either when the client has reached the point where (in their doctors mind) the client has reached their maximum recovery, or when the client has recovered and is discharged from medical treatment. This is referred to as the point of “maximum medical improvement” or MMI.

Preparing the Submittal Package

Typically, once a client has been discharged from medical care, the next stage is to prepare the case for submission to the insurance company.


Once the package has been submitted the next stage is negotiations which can a long time – another reason why hiring Avrek Law can make your life easier. It can take the insurance company eight weeks or more to review the submitted package, do any investigation or medical review.


Once a lawsuit is filed and a case goes to litigation, it doesn’t automatically mean the case will go to trial. Sometimes it can be part of the negotiation process.


Are you still wondering, “What is my car accident settlement worth in California?” There is no simple or short answer to how long a personal injury case can take to settle. It’s a complicated and tiresome process. For this reason contact the best car accident attorneys at Avrek Law. We’re here to help and have recovered more than $1 billion in compensation in over 45,000 cases. Contact our team for a free evaluation to learn more.

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