Unfortunately, car accidents are a quite common occurrence on the busy roadways across the state of California. As a result, there is a wide range of injuries that are sustained by victims due to the negligence of other drivers. Although you may not be able to avoid such accidents, obtaining an understanding of the average car accident settlement in California can help give you an idea of what to expect should you ever experience an auto collision and need to seek compensation for the corresponding damages.

How Is a Car Accident Settlement Calculated in California?

Car accident settlements are calculated in California based on car insurance, medical expenses incurred, legal expenses, severity, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Before we proceed to delve into some of the more common examples of car accident settlement amounts, it’s worthwhile to understand how many of these claims are calculated and what elements ultimately factor into determining an accurate settlement value.

Average Car Accident Settlement in California

Here are the primary elements that are often used to calculate the overall value of a car accident settlement in California:

  • Car Insurance: The total amount of coverage under the defendant’s car insurance policy.
  • Medical Expenses: The total cost of all medical bills, including any necessary future and ongoing medical treatment as a result of the injuries sustained from the accident.
  • Legal Expenses: Lawyer fees, court fees, document filing fees, and any other expenses related to the car accident claim.
  • Severity of the Injuries: When assessing the severity of injuries sustained from a car accident, they are typically placed into one of three different tiers.
    • Tier 1: This is the most severe tier. It includes traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, permanent disfigurement or scarring, and wrongful death.
    • Tier 2: Moderate to severe in overall seriousness. Includes most injuries that require moderate surgical intervention, such as broken or fractured bones and complex lacerations.
    • Tier 3: The least severe of the three tiers. This generally includes mild-moderate injuries that do not usually require surgical intervention, such as contusions, strains, and sprains, but do still require medical treatment.
  • Lost Wages: The plaintiff’s age at the time of the accident, current income, lost wages resulting from the accident, and any future income potential that is jeopardized because of their injuries are all considered.
  • Property Damage: The total cost of all property damage incurred as a direct result of the accident, generally pertaining to the vehicle involved in the collision.
  • Pain & Suffering: Referred to as non-economic damages or emotional trauma. This includes any mental and emotional damages, as well as how the plaintiff’s daily life has been affected as a result of the injuries sustained from the accident.

Each of the elements listed above and more can have a substantial impact in calculating the total financial value of the damages sustained by the plaintiff in a car accident claim. Regardless of the perceived severity of your injuries, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced car accident attorney to ensure that your case is thoroughly evaluated and you receive the fullest compensation that you’re entitled to in order to properly cover the extent of your damages.

Average Car Accident Settlement Examples in California

Each and every car accident has its own unique set of circumstances and resulting damages, so there truly is no way to accurately predict a settlement amount prior to conducting an in-depth evaluation of all of the previously listed elements that can factor into your claim.

However, if we simply base the settlement amount on the type of injuries sustained from a car accident in California, then we can paint a clearer picture of what the financial compensation may look like.

Here are the average settlement amounts for some of the common types of injuries resulting from car accidents in California:

  • Whiplash: $5,000-$20,000
  • Mild-Moderate Concussion: $20,000-$30,000
  • Knee or Shoulder Injury: $30,000-$100,000
  • Broken/Fractured Bones: $30,000-$100,000
  • Moderate Neck or Back Injury: $30,000-$100,000
  • Herniated Disc: $50,000-$100,000+
  • Spinal Cord Injury or Back Fracture: $500,000-$1,000,000+
  • Traumatic Brain Injury: $100,000+
  • Severe Spinal Cord Injury/Paralysis: $1,000,000+
  • Wrongful Death: $1,000,000+

It’s important to note that any of the above injury types can vary greatly based on their severity and the part of the body affected. For example, you can notice the importance placed on the head, neck, and back areas of the body, given the higher value in compensation, as opposed to more minor injuries sustained to the extremities.


Q: How Much Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in California?

A: In California, the average car accident settlement amount is anywhere between $20,000 – $30,000, depending on the overall severity of the injuries sustained and any associated property damages, lost wages, etc. This is for more moderate cases in terms of their severity. Auto accidents involving motorcycles or commercial trucks generally range between $50,000 – $150,000, given the nature of the vehicles and the greater potential of causing severe bodily harm.

Q: How Much Can You Get for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Settlement in California?

A: California currently has no limit to the amount that you can claim in damages for pain and suffering in a car accident case. However, accurately calculating the total financial value of pain and suffering can be extremely complex, as there are many different elements involved, such as the overall severity of the physical injuries, emotional trauma, and mental health repercussions sustained by the victim.

Q: What Is the Average Payout for Whiplash in California?

A: For a whiplash injury that was the direct result of a car accident, the average payout can be anywhere from $5,000 – to $20,000, depending on the severity of the whiplash injury, the treatment and associated medical expenses required, and any other related property damages. Whiplash is generally viewed as a more mild-moderate injury.

Q: What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident Back and Neck Injury in California?

A: Neck and back injuries are generally considered to be much more serious injuries due to the importance of the spine to the human body. The average settlement amount of a neck and back injury resulting from a car accident in California can be anywhere from $30,000 – $100,000, depending on the lasting effects and overall severity. Herniated discs and other spinal cord injuries can commonly settle for over $100,000 and even millions in some cases.

Consulting With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

At Easton & Easton, our experienced personal injury attorneys exclusively represent the victims of all types of auto accident cases and other types of personal injury claims. Our family of attorneys approach each unique case with compassion and diligence as we fight to secure the maximum compensation obtainable by law.

With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our reputation speaks for itself. Contact us today to review your claim.