Personal Injury Law Blog

Calculating Car Accident Settlements in California

Serious car accidents cause a wide array of injuries. If you have been involved in a car accident due to another’s negligence, you may have suffered injuries and property damage. You may seek to recover for your losses in a personal injury lawsuit but may wonder how much you can seek. You may have run across a car accident settlement calculator in California and wondered how accurately it can really calculate the value of your claim. The short answer is that these types of calculators are notoriously inaccurate. The best way to learn the value of your claim is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney

Why Can’t I Rely on a Car Accident Settlement Calculator in California? 

Every single personal injury case is different, and numerous factors will impact the value of your case. Calculating a reasonable settlement takes much more sophisticated analysis than just plugging a series of numbers into a car crash settlement calculator. It involves examining the individual circumstances of your case, assessing the strength of your evidence, and applying knowledge gleaned from other cases.

Once your personal injury attorney knows the details of your case, they will be able to estimate your damages far more accurately than any car accident lawsuit calculator. 

Factors Affecting the Value of a Car Crash Settlement

A multitude of factors affect the value of your settlement. And as we’ve discussed, most of these can’t be accurately assessed by a car accident injury settlement calculator. For this reason, it’s important to work with your personal injury attorney to get a reasonable estimate of your claim value. Your attorney can also help you preserve evidence related to your injuries after a car accident.  

Severity of Injuries 

When calculating a reasonable settlement value, all involved parties must consider the type and severity of injuries suffered. Severe injuries require extensive medical treatment. For example, a broken finger would not incur the same expenses as a traumatic brain injury. Injuries may also range from minor wounds to life-threatening injuries. Severe medical claims may include the following: 

  • Concussions, 
  • Spinal injuries such as paralysis, 
  • Traumatic brain injury, 
  • Internal bleeding, and
  • Broken bones.

Many of the above-listed injuries do not resolve quickly and may require long-term care. Additionally, severe injuries may change your life permanently and force you to live differently than you did before your car accident. 

Medical Treatment 

Different people suffering the same injury may require different types of treatment. For example, someone who suffers a concussion after a car accident may recover quickly, whereas another may feel the after-effects for months or even years. Age and genetic factors may be the reasons for variations in medical care. Others may have preexisting conditions that make quick resolution of injuries impossible.    

The duration of your medical treatment can also have an impact on the value of your claim.. The longer it takes to recover fully, or to a point where you can function, the greater the financial burden you suffer. For example, you may be unable to work in the same way you did before your accident. In some situations, you may be forced to change occupations entirely. Additionally, your losses may not only be financial. Many people also suffer emotional distress resulting from a car accident. The inability to resume your life before your car accident may also cause mental anguish.

These are the types of intangible factors that an automated auto accident payout calculator just can’t take into account.

Determination of Fault 

Your personal injury attorney also works to obtain proof of fault through witness statements and police reports. In California, the compensation you may be entitled to depends on whether you were also at fault. Just as it cannot take into account numerous intangible factors, a car wreck settlement calculator cannot take into account the cause of your injuries or how any fault you share may impact your settlement. 

For example, if you were backing out of a parking lot at the same time as someone else and you both hit each other, you may both hold some degree of responsibility for the resulting accident. In these situations, once your settlement is calculated, your percentage of fault reduces the amount of compensation you may receive. For this reason, it’s best to engage the services of a car accident attorney to more accurately determine a value for your case.   

Evidence of Lost Wages  

Your attorney gathers vital evidence of lost wages to support your claim for recovery in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, let’s say you suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car accident due to the negligence of another. As a result of this injury, you are unable to continue working as a brain surgeon. The loss of your high earnings in this position while you recover from your injuries, and your inability to continue working this position factor heavily in determining a value for your case. 

Insurance Limits

Another important factor that can affect the value of your claim is insurance limits. California requires drivers to carry liability limits of only 15/30/5. This means: 

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person in an accident, 
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person in one accident, and 
  • $5,000 for property damage. 

For some accidents, $15,000 may be sufficient to cover your losses. However, for more serious accidents, this sum barely satisfies the enormity of financial and emotional losses suffered.

Even if a car accident settlement calculator is telling you that your claim is worth a lot, you may find after talking to an attorney that insurance policy limits prevent you from seeking the full value of your claim. However, if this is the case, your attorney will be able to advise you whether there are other options for seeking compensation, such as seeking out other potentially at-fault parties, filing a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, or suing the at-fault driver directly. 

Types of Personal Injury Damages in California 

Recoverable damages following a car accident fall into two categories: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are broken down further into two categories: economic and non-economic. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages include objectively verifiable monetary losses such as:

  • Medical expenses, 
  • Loss of earnings, 
  • Burial costs, 
  • Loss of use of property, 
  • Costs of repair or replacements, 
  • Costs of obtaining substitute domestic services, and
  • Loss of employment or business.

Economic damages are proven through medical bills, pay stubs, receipts, and other tangible evidence. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages include subjective, non-monetary losses such as: 

  • Pain and suffering, 
  • Mental suffering, 
  • Emotional distress, 
  • Loss of society and companionship, and
  • Loss of consortium.

Non-economic damages reflect the damage done to your quality of life. A qualified personal injury attorney understands how to paint a convincing picture of your losses. 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages seek to punish the defendant and deter future behavior. For this reason, punitive damages are awarded only in situations where the defendant not only exhibited the negligence common in car accident claims but also acted in an egregious or reckless manner. For this reason, punitive damages may be awarded in situations where the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Should I Use a Car Accident Injury Settlement Calculator? 

Due to myriad factors affecting the value of a car accident claim, most personal injury attorneys will provide you with a far more accurate assessment of your claim’s value than any auto accident settlement calculator. If you would like a free evaluation of your car accident claim, reach out to Joshua Glotzer and Daniel Lieb of Glotzer & Lieb, LLP, today.

For over fifty years, we have provided exceptional legal representation to clients in their time of need. We focus not only on working to secure the compensation you need to cover your losses but also on empowering you to get better. Glotzer & Lieb, LLP, was founded to help accident victims in Southern California hold reckless people accountable for the harm they caused. We assist clients regardless of their financial situation. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case. Remember, if we accept your case, we do so on contingency. This means we don’t collect a fee unless you win your case. Contact us today. Don’t delay your path toward recovery! 

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      “Mr. Glotzer represented me after I was involved in a car accident. I was badly injured,but the insurance company refused to offer me a reasonable settlement. I decided to find an attorney and decided to hire Josh.

      His law firm did a great job on my case. They were very responsive to all my questions and obtained a great resolution for me. I received way more money than was originally offered. I would recommend their firm to friends and family.”

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      “Mr. Josh Glotzer is a great attorney. Over the last 15 years he has helped me on a number of cases with professionalism, and more importantly a positive outcome in my favor. I have referred him to a number of friends and colleagues, all of which have been equally as happy with his legal representation. I trust him and confident in legal ability. I highly recommend his law firm.”

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      “Don’t try to deal with insurance companies on your own. They strung me along for almost two years before I gave the case to Glotzer & Leib. Josh and his team quickly obtained a settlement that netted me many times what the insurance company was offering. Thank You!”

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      “My wife was in a car accident last year and Josh did an amazing job representing her. It’s very refreshing to see someone in his profession that actually cares and puts his clients first. He’s the best in the business and I feel so fortunate that I was referred to him. Keep up the great work and thanks for everything you did for my family!”

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