How much can I get for my auto accident claim and injury in California? How much is my case worth?

If you were involved in an automobile accident in which you sustained injuries as a result of someone else's negligence, you are entitled to be compensated for your economic and non-economic damages. Whether you suffered minor injuries, such as a slight whiplash or cuts and bruises, or more severe injuries, such as broken limbs, internal bleeding or severe soft tissue sprains or strains, the at-fault driver has a responsibility to make you financially whole and to put you back to where you were before the accident occurred. This is true whether that driver has auto insurance or not. If he does not, you will likely have to sue him to recover your damages. If he has insurance, you, or your attorney, will be working with a claims adjuster employed by his insurance company to try to obtain a settlement. This may or may not involve filing a lawsuit and going to court, depending on whether or not you and your attorney, if you have one, see eye to eye with the insurance company with respect to the value of your claim.

Evaluation of your claim

How an adjuster evaluates an injury claim depends on the company's procedures, but in general the following are criteria taken into account when determining how much money an injured individual should receive to settle his or her claim:

Making an Auto Accident Settlement Offer

Once the adjuster has all of the necessary documentation to evaluate your claim, the process is quite subjective. He or she will come up with a value range based on all the information and make you an offer, likely from somewhere near the bottom of their range. There is no set formula, such as 3 times the medical bills, although many use that as a guide. They do not expect you to take their first offer; they expect you to negotiate. If you have an attorney, he or she will do the negotiating for you. If you do not, you are on your own.

Getting Help

Remember that insurance companies are not in business to spend a lot of money on claimants. They want to protect themselves and their bottom line and not pay more than they have to or than they believe is a fair amount. Still, if you negotiate wisely, you can get them to the top of their range and walk away satisfied.

If you believe their range is too low, and your attorney agrees, it is time to go to court. If you didn't have an attorney before, you will need one at this stage. The value of your car accident claim, once it becomes a lawsuit, may or may not change. Your attorney will evaluate your possible car accident injury compensation based on past jury verdicts in similar cases, as well as all of the other relevant factors. Your attorney will likely still try to negotiate a settlement with the adjuster as the case moves along, making a demand for what he believes the case is worth.

It is important to keep in mind that if you have an attorney, you will be sharing your settlement or jury award with him or her. In California, your attorney's fee may constitute up to 40% of the money you are awarded. However, it is important to remember that it is also likely that an experienced injury attorney will assist you to obtain a higher settlement amount or jury award than if you had handled the claim on your own.

For more information on California auto accidents, click on the following articles:

How is responsibility in California determined after a car crash? Who is at fault?

Can I be liable if my car is rear-ended in California?

My car, driven by a relative, was involved in a car crash in California. Am I liable for injuries and damage to the other person if my relative is negligent?

How do I protect my rights when I'm involved in a car accident in California?

The other driver involved in the car accident in California had no insurance. What is my recourse?

I had a car accident in California, other guy's fault, car totaled, but the driver's insurance company will not cover all costs. What are my options now?