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June 2, 2024

Average Semi Truck Accident Settlement in California (2024 Update)

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Updated 6/12/2024

Short answer: The average semi truck accident settlement in California is hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. In 2024, minor accidents and injuries could expect settlements of approximately $25,000 or more. While moderate and severe accidents resulting in serious injuries can surpass the $100,000 settlement mark quickly. Averages for these types of accidents are extremely complex due to the severity of injuries each case has.

Below we’ll detail different settlement amounts for different severity levels of injuries. With this data we hope you gain more understanding on where your case might stand.

Average CA Semi Truck Accident Settlement Amounts

Severity of Accident Average CA Semi Truck Accident Settlement
Minor Approximately: $25,000 – $100,000
Moderate Approximately: $100,000 – $500,000
Severe Approximately: $500,000 – $1,000,000+

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Example California Big Rig Accident Cases

Below are some recent neck and back injury car accident settlements achieved by lawyer members of LawLinq:

  • $1,000,000 settlement for a rear end truck collision resulting in back surgery.
  • $3,000,000 settlement for a rear end truck crash resulting in back and neck injuries.
  • $2,900,000 settlement for a client who was in a rear end collision with a tractor trailer resulting in a traumatic brain injury and spine surgery.

California Semi Truck Accident Settlement Estimator

Fill out our calculator below to receive a settlement estimate in roughly 90 seconds. Don’t let your medical bills and expenses pile up.

California Truck Accident Statistics

Below is a quick look at some of California’s biggest counties and truck accidents resulting in injuries or death for 2022.

County Accidents with Injuries
Los Angeles 1830
San Diego 379
Orange 394
Riverside 626
San Bernardino 800

Source: TIMS Berkely

What Factors affect CA Semi Truck Accident Settlements the Most

Several factors can significantly affect semi-truck accident settlements in California. Here are some of the key factors:

Liability and Fault Determination

The primary factor is often establishing who was at fault for the accident. If it’s clear that the truck driver or the trucking company was primarily responsible for the accident, this can strongly influence the settlement amount.

Severity of Injuries

The extent of injuries sustained by the victims plays a significant role. Severe injuries that result in substantial medical bills, ongoing treatment, and long-term disabilities generally lead to higher settlements.

Medical Expenses

The total cost of medical treatment, including surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and future medical needs, is a crucial factor. This is often a substantial part of the settlement.

Property Damage

The extent of damage to vehicles and property involved in the accident is considered. Repair or replacement costs are included in the settlement.

Insurance Coverage and Policy Limits

The insurance policies of both the trucking company and the injured parties are critical. Higher policy limits can result in more substantial settlements, but this depends on the available coverage.

Legal Representation 

Having skilled legal representation can significantly impact settlements. Experienced attorneys are often able to negotiate better terms and advocate for their clients effectively.

Negotiation Skills 

Effective negotiation with insurance companies or opposing parties can lead to higher settlements. Skilled negotiators can leverage evidence and legal arguments to secure better terms.

Economic Damages

This includes tangible financial losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. These damages are typically easier to quantify and can contribute significantly to the settlement.

Non-Economic Damages 

These include intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life. Calculating non-economic damages can be more subjective but is still an important factor.

Punitive Damages

In cases of extreme negligence or intentional misconduct, punitive damages may be awarded. These are meant to punish the responsible party and can substantially increase the settlement amount.

Jurisdictional Differences

The location where the lawsuit is filed can affect settlements. California has its own laws and regulations that can impact the outcome of a case.

Evidence and Documentation

The strength of the evidence collected, including police reports, medical records, eyewitness testimonies, and expert opinions, can have a significant impact on the settlement.

It’s important to note that every semi-truck accident case is unique, and the specific circumstances surrounding the accident will determine which factors have the most influence on the settlement amount.

Why Gathering Evidence is Important After a Big Rig Accident 

Gathering evidence after a big rig accident in California or anywhere else is crucial for several reasons:

  • Establishing Liability: Collecting evidence helps determine who was at fault for the accident. This is vital for pursuing legal action and seeking compensation. Evidence can show whether the truck driver, the trucking company, or other parties were responsible.
  • Supporting Your Claim: To file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you need to demonstrate that you suffered harm due to the accident. Evidence such as medical records, photographs, and witness statements can support your claim of injuries and damages.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often play a significant role in settling accident claims. Providing strong evidence can strengthen your negotiation position and increase the likelihood of a fair settlement.
  • Proving Damages: To calculate the compensation you deserve, you need evidence of the damages you’ve incurred. This includes medical bills, repair estimates for your vehicle, and documentation of lost wages if you couldn’t work due to injuries.
  • Reconstructing the Accident: Evidence can help recreate the sequence of events leading to the accident. Accident reconstruction experts may use this information to determine fault and liability.
  • Witness Testimonies: Eyewitness accounts can provide valuable information about how the accident happened. Collecting witness statements helps corroborate your version of events.
  • Preserving Evidence: Evidence can deteriorate over time or be lost. Gathering it promptly ensures that critical information is preserved for your case.
  • Preventing False Claims: Gathering evidence can also protect you from false claims. It can show that you were not at fault or that the other party’s negligence caused the accident.
  • Building a Strong Case: The more evidence you have, the stronger your case becomes. This can influence the other party to settle more favorably or convince a judge and jury if the case goes to trial.
  • Ensuring Fair Compensation: Ultimately, collecting evidence is about ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses. It helps you build a compelling case for the compensation you rightfully deserve.

In a big rig accident, where the potential for severe injuries and significant damages is high, gathering evidence is even more critical. It can make the difference between a successful claim and a situation where you are left without the compensation needed to cover your expenses and suffering.

How Will Attorneys Calculate My Settlement?

Attorneys use various methods to calculate a settlement amount in a personal injury case, such as a big rig accident in California. While the exact approach can vary depending on the specifics of your case, here are the common steps involved:

  • Assessment of Damages: Attorneys begin by assessing the damages you’ve suffered due to the accident. These damages can be broadly categorized into economic and non-economic damages.
    • Economic Damages: These are quantifiable financial losses, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and future medical expenses. Attorneys will gather documentation and evidence to determine the extent of these economic losses.
    • Non-Economic Damages: These are intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Calculating non-economic damages is more subjective, but attorneys use various methods and legal precedents to arrive at a reasonable figure.
  • Estimation of Future Costs: In cases where you’ll require ongoing medical treatment or have long-term consequences from the accident, attorneys work with experts to estimate future costs accurately. This can involve consulting with medical professionals and economists.
  • Liability Assessment: Attorneys evaluate the liability of the parties involved. They consider factors such as the truck driver’s actions, the trucking company’s responsibility, and any third-party liability. Establishing liability is crucial because it affects the amount you can claim.
  • Insurance Policy Limits: Attorneys review the insurance policies of the at-fault party and potentially your own insurance coverage. This helps determine the maximum amount that can be recovered through insurance.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases of extreme negligence or misconduct, attorneys may seek punitive damages. These are meant to punish the responsible party and can significantly increase the settlement amount.
  • Negotiation: Armed with a thorough understanding of your damages, liability, and insurance coverage, your attorney will engage in negotiations with the insurance company or opposing party. They will present your case, evidence, and calculations to seek a fair settlement. Skilled negotiation can often lead to a favorable outcome.
  • Trial Consideration: If negotiations fail to result in a fair settlement, your attorney will prepare to go to trial. They will use their calculations and evidence to present a compelling case to a judge and jury.
  • Contingency Fee Agreement: It’s important to note that many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if they secure a settlement or win at trial. Their fee is typically a percentage of the final settlement amount.
  • Consulting Experts: Attorneys may consult with various experts, including accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, and economists, to strengthen their calculations and case.

Remember that each case is unique, and the settlement calculation process can vary based on the specific details of your accident and injuries.

Most Common Mistakes Made During the Claim Process When Filing Alone

Filing a personal injury claim, especially after a big rig accident, without legal representation can be challenging. Here are some common mistakes individuals often make when pursuing a claim on their own:

  • Delaying Medical Treatment: Failing to seek prompt medical attention after an accident can hurt your claim. Insurance companies may argue that your injuries weren’t severe or weren’t caused by the accident if you delay treatment.
  • Not Gathering Sufficient Evidence: Insufficient evidence can weaken your case. Failing to collect photographs, witness statements, police reports, and medical records can hinder your ability to prove liability and damages.
  • Neglecting to Document Damages: Keep detailed records of all accident-related expenses, including medical bills, repair estimates, and receipts. Failure to document these expenses can result in undercompensation.
  • Admitting Fault or Apologizing: Avoid admitting fault or apologizing at the accident scene. Such statements can be used against you later when determining liability.
  • Dealing Directly with Insurance Companies: Insurance adjusters may try to settle quickly for a lower amount. Without legal guidance, you might accept an offer that doesn’t adequately cover your losses.
  • Underestimating Future Costs: Failing to consider future medical expenses and long-term consequences of injuries can result in a settlement that doesn’t address your ongoing needs.
  • Not Understanding Insurance Policies: Not fully understanding your own insurance policies or the policies of the at-fault party can lead to missed opportunities for compensation.
  • Missing Deadlines: There are strict deadlines for filing personal injury claims (statute of limitations). Missing these deadlines can prevent you from pursuing compensation altogether.
  • Lack of Legal Knowledge: Personal injury law is complex. Without legal expertise, you may not fully understand your rights, the legal process, or the potential value of your claim.
  • Accepting the First Offer: Insurance companies often make initial lowball offers. Accepting such an offer without negotiation can result in a settlement that doesn’t reflect the true value of your case.
  • Ignoring Comparative Fault Laws: California follows a comparative fault system. If you contributed to the accident, your compensation may be reduced. Understanding these laws is crucial.
  • Failure to Consider All Parties: Sometimes, multiple parties may be liable for an accident, such as the truck driver and the trucking company. Failing to identify all responsible parties can limit your potential recovery.
  • Not Consulting with an Attorney: The most significant mistake is attempting to handle a complex personal injury claim without legal representation. An experienced attorney can protect your rights, assess your case accurately, and negotiate on your behalf.

Given the complexities and potential pitfalls in personal injury claims, especially those involving big rig accidents, it’s highly advisable to consult with an attorney. They can help you avoid these common mistakes and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.

What the Negotiation Process Usually Looks Like for Semi Truck Accident Claims 

The negotiation process for semi-truck accident claims typically follows a series of steps. Here’s what it generally looks like:

1. Investigation and Documentation

Your attorney will begin by conducting a thorough investigation of the accident. This includes gathering evidence such as accident reports, medical records, witness statements, and photographs. They will also calculate your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and any other applicable losses.

2. Demand Letter

Once your attorney has a clear understanding of your case and your damages, they will draft a demand letter. This letter outlines your claim, including liability, damages, and a specific settlement demand.The demand letter is sent to the at-fault party’s insurance company, detailing the compensation you are seeking.

3. Evaluation by the Insurance Company

The insurance company will review the demand letter and assess your claim. They may conduct their own investigation, which can include reviewing the evidence you provided.

The insurance adjuster assigned to your case will typically respond with an initial settlement offer.

4. Counteroffer and Negotiation

Negotiations often involve a series of back-and-forth offers and counteroffers between your attorney and the insurance company. Your attorney will advocate on your behalf, emphasizing the strength of your case and presenting arguments for a higher settlement. The negotiation process can take some time as both parties try to reach an agreement.

5. Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

If initial negotiations do not lead to a satisfactory settlement, your attorney may suggest mediation or other forms of ADR. This involves a neutral third party facilitating negotiations.

Mediation can be an effective way to reach a settlement without going to trial.

6. Filing a Lawsuit

If negotiations fail to produce a fair settlement, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit. This is a formal legal action taken against the at-fault party. The lawsuit initiates the litigation process, which can involve discovery (gathering more evidence), depositions, and court proceedings.

7. Continued Negotiation

Even after filing a lawsuit, negotiations can continue. In fact, many cases are settled during trial preparation or even during the trial itself. Both parties may be motivated to settle to avoid the uncertainty and expense of a trial.

8. Settlement Agreement

If an agreement is reached at any point during the negotiation or litigation process, a settlement agreement is drafted. This agreement outlines the terms of the settlement, including the compensation amount and any conditions.

9. Disbursement of Settlement

Once the settlement agreement is signed, any awarded compensation is disbursed to cover your damages and legal fees. Your attorney’s fees are typically a percentage of the settlement.

It’s important to note that the negotiation process can vary depending on the specifics of your case, the willingness of the insurance company to cooperate, and the strength of your evidence.

Get Connected with an Attorney

If you were recently in a semi truck accident and need help, LawLinq is here to help. We refer people just like you with some of the best semi truck accident attorneys in the state. Don’t let your medical bills and expenses pile up, call now for help.


About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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