Car Accident Settlement FAQ

Car accidents result in millions of dollars in damage each year, along with even more costly medical expenses related to accident injuries and fatalities. In California, and specifically in cities like San Diego, many people who were injured or who lost loved ones in vehicle accidents seek compensation by filing personal injury lawsuits. Most of these legal actions are resolved prior to court through a car accident settlement, which is a faster and less costly process than litigation.

Understanding Car Accident Settlements

Being injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence can lead to enormous financial expenses, in addition to bodily injuries, pain, and suffering. An experienced San Diego auto accident attorney can work closely with you to build a strong case using police reports, medical records, and other evidence from the accident scene. This process can take some time, but it is essential for securing fair compensation for your claims. Here are some frequently asked questions about car accident settlements:

Initial Steps After an Accident

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Immediately get medical help for anyone injured.
  2. Report the Accident: File a police report and notify any relevant parties, such as employers or property owners.
  3. Gather Evidence: Take photos, collect witness information, and get statements if possible.
  4. Contact Your Insurance and Attorney: Inform your insurance company and contact a San Diego auto accident attorney. If you don’t have an attorney, ask for referrals from friends, family, or the local Bar Association.

Filing a Lawsuit

If the accident was caused by negligence, defective equipment, or a road hazard, your attorney might suggest filing a personal injury lawsuit. This should be done quickly, as California has a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. Missing this deadline can prevent you from filing a lawsuit.

Claimable Expenses

Your car accident lawsuit can include both economic and non-economic damages. These expenses or losses are directly related to your injuries. Typical claims include:

  • Economic Claims: Medical expenses, hospital bills, nursing care costs, therapy, rehabilitation, work loss, lost benefits, job retraining, disability-related costs, future income losses, funeral and burial costs, and property damage (e.g., vehicle repair or replacement).
  • Non-Economic Claims: Pain and suffering, loss of companionship, consortium, mental stress, emotional suffering, and other claims without a set monetary value.

Required Documents

To support your claims, you will need to provide various documents, such as police reports, medical care invoices, witness information, insurance documents, and any receipts or proof of expenses related to your recovery.

Understanding Negligence

Negligence involves risky behavior that jeopardizes safety. For example, a company may be negligent if its products fail and cause harm. Similarly, a person neglecting their duty of care and causing harm is responsible for the resulting effects.

Liability and Fault

In California, which follows a pure comparative negligence rule, your compensation can be reduced by the percentage of your responsibility for the accident. The party found to be negligent and at fault is liable for the claims. In cases of deliberate harm, such as workplace violence, the attacker is at fault and liable for damages.

Insurance Company Payments

Insurance companies aim to pay the least amount possible. If the other driver lacks insurance, you will need to deal with your own company, which might have caps on payments or reduce payment based on your liability share. If the insurance does not cover all claims, you might need to file another lawsuit to place a lien on the defendant’s property or obtain payment.

Court Litigation

Most personal injury lawsuits are settled before reaching court. Court cases are lengthier and potentially more costly, especially if a jury imposes punitive fines. If you don’t accept a settlement, your attorney will represent you in court.

Case Resolution Timeframe

The resolution time for personal injury cases varies, depending on the case details. Investigations, discovery, interviews with witnesses, and responses to summonses can take considerable time. Many plaintiffs accept settlements to save time and legal costs.

Taxability of Payments

Awards for punitive damages are taxable like regular income. However, awards for usual injury claims are generally not taxable.

The Role of an Auto Accident Attorney

A San Diego auto accident attorney plays a critical role in securing compensation for your injuries. Their responsibilities include:

  • Collecting Evidence: Gathering police reports, medical records, and witness statements.
  • Filing Claims: Ensuring all claims are filed accurately and on time.
  • Negotiating Settlements: Engaging with insurance companies and opposing parties to negotiate fair settlements.
  • Litigation: Representing you in court if necessary to secure just compensation.

Personal Injury Attorney Services

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by negligent behavior, you may file for fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other non-economic damage claims like pain and suffering. Many plaintiffs find negotiating a fair settlement between the parties to be an effective solution.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney ensures you receive the best possible outcome, even if your case is settled quickly without court appearances or lengthy investigations. Insurance companies are not working for your benefit; only your attorney will prioritize your interests. Contact an experienced San Diego auto accident attorney to handle your car accident settlement or other legal matters related to your injury case.

National and State Statistics

  • National Statistics: According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes cost employers $72.2 billion in 2019 due to medical care, productivity losses, and other expenses.
  • California Statistics: The California Department of Industrial Relations reports that transportation incidents are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the state, accounting for 41% of all workplace deaths in 2018.

These figures highlight the importance of robust legal representation and proper insurance coverage for work-related car accidents.


Car accidents can have devastating consequences, both financially and emotionally. In California, victims of car accidents caused by negligence have the right to seek compensation through personal injury claims. Understanding the process and having the right legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. If you are involved in a car accident in San Diego, contact a San Diego auto accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected and to secure the compensation you deserve.

For more information on car accident settlements or to seek legal assistance, contact a knowledgeable attorney today.