How Much Can You Receive in a California Personal Injury Settlement?

In California, when someone hurts you because of their negligent actions, you can sue them for personal injury. If your lawsuit is successful, you will receive either a settlement or a monetary award via a court verdict. 

It all starts with a simple demand letter. In this letter, you describe what happened and various other details about your case, and you usually end the letter with a demand for a certain amount of money. This is the amount of money for which you would be willing to settle your case.

But how much money do you ask for? Determining how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement isn’t easy, but it’s an important step on your journey toward justice for your injuries. Read on for a personal injury settlement breakdown provided by our own Costa Mesa personal injury attorney and to learn how much you should ask for. woman in wheelchair looking at xray after california accident

Factors That Affect Your Settlement Amount in California

The amount of money you can receive in a personal injury settlement depends on various factors. To determine how much to ask for in your settlement, you will have to consider each of the following factors, among others, and how they apply to your unique case.

Injury Severity

Brain injuries can range from minor concussions to irreparable brain damage. Spine injuries can lead to back pain or paralysis. In other words, the severity of injuries varies widely, and while every injury caused by someone else’s negligence is worthy of compensation, the severity will help determine exactly how much you should ask for.

Consider not only the type of injury you suffered in the accident but its extent. How long will it take you to recover from this injury? Is the injury keeping you from working or living your normal life? These are all factors that can affect your ultimate settlement amount.


If you’re suing someone for personal injury in California, they will need to bear the blame for the accident that injured you. But they might not bear all of the blame. Under California personal injury law, fault can be shared. 

You might even hold some responsibility for what happened. That doesn’t mean you can’t recover compensation. It simply means the amount of compensation you can recover will change. If it is clear that the person you are suing is 100 percent at fault for what happened, you will be able to demand a higher settlement than if you were, for example, 25 percent at fault.

Witnesses and Evidence

How strong is your case? If your case is basically bulletproof based on eyewitness testimony and the available evidence, the other side is much more likely to agree to a higher settlement amount. That’s because they know that they are likely to lose if the case goes to trial, where the monetary award you receive could be even higher than what you’re asking for as a settlement.

So, consider what you have to back up your claims. Are there witnesses who can confirm your side of the story? Did a traffic camera or dashboard camera catch your car accident on tape? Perhaps your doctor is saying that your injuries will keep you from ever working again. These and similar facts can make a higher settlement much more likely.

Personal Injury Settlement Breakdown

Any way in which an accident caused by someone else’s negligence has harmed you should affect how much you demand in your personal injury settlement. That’s a broad statement, but it typically describes a handful of damages often seen in personal injury cases:

  • Medical bills
  • Estimated future treatment costs
  • Lost wages during your recovery
  • Future lost wages due to disability
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of consortium
  • Scarring and disfigurement

There are other damages, but these are some of the most common in personal injury cases. Each of these damages could figure into your settlement amount, and your attorney can help you calculate how much each is worth.

Calculating Your Personal Injury Settlement

Even if you have listed all of the ways in which the accident has harmed you, you still won’t have a dollar amount to ask for in your personal injury settlement. To get that figure, you will need to do some calculations. 

Your Orange County personal injury lawyer can do the calculations for you, but if you want to get an idea of how much you may be owed, start by examining your economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are those that have harmed you in a way you can measure with money. These include lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and similar setbacks. 

Because economic damages deal directly with money, they are relatively easy to calculate. You simply add up every expense or financial loss you have encountered due to your injuries. You will, of course, want to back up these calculations with verifiable records like receipts.

Where economic damage calculations can get a little more complicated is in the expected future costs related to your injuries. For example, what if you know you will require corrective surgery because of the accident, but it hasn’t happened yet? You will need to come up with a reasonable estimate of the cost, which is something your attorney can help with.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages can be far more difficult to calculate than economic damages. That’s because these are the harms that don’t have anything to do with money.

How do you put a price on the emotional trauma you suffered — and continue to suffer every day — because of a terrifying accident? How much money is the ability to play with your child worth? These damages are tricky to calculate, but they are also the ones that may become most important in your case. 

Non-economic damages account for some of the most horrific effects of accidents that cause severe injuries, which is why it’s important to calculate them fairly and accurately. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can help you do that.

Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement

Not sure how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement? We’ve got your back. The trusted Costa Mesa personal injury attorneys at Case Barnett Law know not only how to tally up your damages, but also how to give you a real shot at recovering the maximum amount of compensation.

When it feels like the whole world is against you, we’re here for you. We’ll look far and wide for every way in which this accident has harmed you to help you maximize your personal injury settlement. Let’s get started: Contact us online or give us a call at 949-409-0055.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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