California Car Accident Settlement and Verdict Amounts for 2024 Staff Profile Picture
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Based on recent data that our team collected, settlement amounts for car accident cases in California can range from $5,000 to $60 million.

However, there are several factors that can affect how much a plaintiff can obtain, such as the following:

  • Severity and type of injury: In most cases, the more severe a car accident victim’s injury is, the higher compensation they are able to pursue. For instance, spinal cord injuries translate to more damage awards compared to minor cuts and bruises.

  • Length of recovery: A car accident victim who takes a long time to recover from their injuries tends to accumulate higher medical-related expenses compared to those who are able to go back to their normal lives right away. This means suffering permanent injuries or damages — which will require medical attention and treatment for a longer period or even indefinitely — typically results in higher compensation.

  • Pain and suffering: Generally, those with more serious injuries tend to experience greater pain and suffering. Because these non-economic damages are included when calculating the total compensation, it is important to consider and appraise the physical and emotional stress a plaintiff endures after their car accident.

  • Degree of liability: If a plaintiff is deemed to be partially at fault for the damages they incur after a car accident, their compensation will be reduced accordingly. Being 30% at fault, for instance, means the same percentage will be deducted from their total damage awards. Because California abides by a pure comparative fault system, victims can claim damages even if they are found 99% at fault or liable.

As you will see in the examples below, high-profile car accident cases can lead to higher-than-usual compensation for the plaintiffs. This may be because lawsuits that generate publicity tend to involve more severe injuries and, therefore, higher payouts. Another reason is that they may involve defendants who are willing to pay top dollar just to achieve a speedy settlement.

Recent Settlement and Verdict Amounts for Car Accident Cases in California

Settlement or Verdict Amount

Type of Injury/Damage


Property damage


Right hand and wrist injury


Cranial nerve damage, occipital neuralgia, chronic migraines, and shoulder injury


Concussion, loss of memory, and head, face, and right leg injuries


C5-6 herniation requiring steroids and cervical disc replacement surgery

$4.8 million

Severe spinal injuries and permanent disability; wrongful death

$18 million

Wrongful death

$60+ million

Severe injuries; wrongful death

  • 2023: An individual suffered an injury to their right hand and wrist after being involved in a car accident that took place in California. As a result, the defendant in their case was ordered to pay them a total of $22,386. This amount was calculated based on their past medical expenses ($7,000) and past pain and suffering ($15,386).

  • 2023: A middle-aged woman was awarded $40,000 by a jury after she sustained cranial nerve damage, occipital neuralgia, chronic migraines, and a shoulder injury from a car accident in Los Angeles County. A quarter of her total compensation is for the medical expenses she will incur in the future. The defendant was driving on the road’s centerline when it hit the side of her car, thereby causing the accident.

  • 2023: A woman was able to obtain a $100,000 settlement after the driver of a 2017 Dodge Journey hit her while she was riding a bike. Her party was able to prove that the driver was 100% at fault for the damages she incurred, including the injuries to her head, face, and right leg, as well as her loss of memory and concussion. As such, the driver’s insurance company paid her the total amount agreed upon.

  • 2023: The San Diego City Council agreed to a $4.8 million settlement for the plaintiffs in a car accident case. Two pedestrians — Jaime Leonen and Jorge Lopez — were hit by a vehicle in an accident-prone area, and the city was deemed liable for failing to do something about the road’s known dangers. Lopez suffered serious spinal injuries and has been permanently disabled. Meanwhile, Leonen passed away after hitting his head on the vehicle and pavement.

  • 2023: Jesse Esphorst Sr. and his wife Julie were awarded $36.5 million and $23.25 million, respectively, after a car accident led to Esphorst Sr.’s serious injuries and their son’s wrongful death. Defendant Tung Ming, who collided with their vehicle, was found 95% liable. Prior to the incident, Ming’s vehicle was accidentally hit by Darryl Leander Hicks. This led to a car chase after a 911 operator instructed Ming to catch the plate number of Hick’s car. The court deemed Hicks 5% at fault and ordered him to pay $18,000 in punitive damages. Meanwhile, LA County paid a $6.5-million settlement to the Esphorsts because of the 911 operator’s instructions that caused Ming to drive faster.

  • 2022: The Napa County Superior Court ordered Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to pay $5,000 to plaintiff Jesus Lopez for causing property damage due to a car accident. Pelosi was under the influence when he made a left turn with his 2021 Porsche 911, which resulted in a collision with Lopez’s Jeep. Lopez, who sought medical treatment after the incident, did not incur severe injuries. However, his vehicle suffered total wreckage.

  • 2022: The family of a car accident victim agreed to an $18.85 million settlement with the parents of the at-fault minor. The 17-year-old driver — son of multimillionaire businessman James Khuri — was running a red light and speeding at almost 100 mph in a 35 mph zone in West LA. He then hit the vehicle of 32-year-old Monique Muñoz, who was killed due to the incident.

  • 2021: A car accident victim was awarded $750,000 by an LA County jury after suffering a C5-6 herniated disc that required epidural steroid injections and cervical disc replacement surgery. According to him, the defendant caused the incident by committing two traffic violations: running a red light and not yielding the right-of-way.

If you want to learn more about what damages can be recovered in a California car accident case based on a victim’s incurred losses, several resources are available online.

Recover the Compensation that You Deserve

Have you been involved in a car accident and are now looking to recover the losses you’ve incurred by filing a lawsuit? Choosing a car accident attorney is one of the most crucial steps that you may have to take in this endeavor; the right lawyer can make the legal ordeal less burdensome for you, while the wrong one can cost you your entire case.

An experienced and skilled attorney can help you gather and preserve pieces of evidence, accurately calculate the compensation that you deserve, and fight for your right to obtain it. They can even connect you with experts in other fields, if necessary, and prevent you from performing actions that might harm your case.

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