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December 13, 2023

Average Settlement for Passenger in California Car Accidents

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Short answer: Most passengers in car accidents in California can expect approximately a $5,000 – $20,000 settlement for their injuries. In more severe cases where injuries are permanent, settlements can be over $100,000.

Common California Injured Passenger Settlement Amounts

Severity of Accident Average Settlement Amount
Minor Approximately: $5,000 – $20,000
Moderate Approximately: $20,000 – $100,000
Severe Approximately: $100,000 – $250,000+

If you’re looking to calculate what your settlement is worth, use our calculator below designed specifically for injured passengers just like you.

Passenger in Car Accident Compensation Calculator

Calculate what your settlement could be worth with our online calculator below designed specifically for Californians. Get an estimate in 90 seconds.


Factors That Can Affect Settlement Amount

Liability Determination

  • Establishing who is at fault in the accident plays a crucial role. The degree of each party’s fault affects the settlement.

Extent of Injuries

  • The severity of injuries sustained by the passenger is a significant factor. More severe injuries often result in higher settlement amounts.

Medical Expenses

  • The total medical costs incurred, including current and future expenses, contribute to the overall settlement calculation.

Lost Wages

  • If the passenger faces lost income due to the accident-related injuries, this can be factored into the settlement amount.

Pain and Suffering

  • Non-economic damages, such as physical and emotional distress, can impact the settlement amount.

Insurance Coverage

  • The insurance policies of the involved parties, including policy limits, influence the potential settlement.

Legal Representation

  • Having a skilled attorney can impact the negotiation process and potentially lead to a more favorable settlement.

Evidence and Documentation

  • The strength of evidence, such as accident reports, medical records, and eyewitness accounts, can influence settlement negotiations.

How Long Will a Settlement Take for a Passenger?

The duration of a settlement process for a passenger involved in a car accident in California can vary widely. It depends on factors such as the complexity of the case, the extent of injuries, negotiations between parties, and court proceedings if a lawsuit is filed.

Some settlements may be reached relatively quickly through negotiations with insurance companies, taking a few weeks to a few months. However, more complex cases or disputes over liability may extend the process, potentially taking several months to a year or more.

Should an Injured Passenger Hire an Attorney?

Hiring an attorney can be beneficial for a passenger involved in a car accident in California. An attorney can:

Navigate Legal Procedures

  • Assist in understanding and navigating the complex legal procedures involved in personal injury claims.

Evaluate Claim Value

  • Help assess the true value of your claim, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Negotiate with Insurance Companies

  • Negotiate with insurance companies to ensure a fair settlement that adequately compensates for damages.

Legal Representation

  • Provide legal representation if the case goes to court, ensuring your rights are protected.

Evidence Gathering

  • Gather and present evidence to support your case, including medical records, accident reports, and witness statements.

Handle Legal Documentation

  • Take care of the necessary paperwork and documentation required for a personal injury claim.

While some individuals may choose to handle a claim without an attorney, having legal representation can enhance the chances of a favorable outcome and relieve the passenger of the complexities involved in the process.

Do all People in the Same Car Need to Hire the Same Attorney?

Not necessarily. While passengers in the same car involved in an accident share the same incident, they aren’t required to have the same attorney. Each person has the right to choose their own legal representation based on their individual needs and preferences.

However, it’s essential to ensure that communication is maintained among all parties involved to avoid conflicts of interest. If multiple passengers have similar claims, coordinating with their respective attorneys can be beneficial in terms of gathering evidence and presenting a unified front during negotiations or legal proceedings.

What Your Settlement Process Could Look Like

Securing a settlement for an injured passenger in California typically involves the following process:

Seek Medical Attention

Obtain prompt medical attention for injuries sustained in the car accident. Document all medical treatments and expenses.

Gather Information

Collect information about the accident, including photos, witness statements, and the other party’s insurance details.

Contact Insurance Companies

Report the accident to the relevant insurance companies. Provide necessary details but avoid making detailed statements without consulting legal advice.

Consult with an Attorney

Consider consulting with a personal injury attorney to assess the strength of your case and understand your rights and options.

File a Claim

With the help of your attorney, file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Provide supporting documents and evidence.

Negotiate a Settlement

Engage in negotiations with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement. Your attorney will advocate for your best interests.

Possible Lawsuit

If a fair settlement isn’t reached through negotiations, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit. This initiates the formal legal process.

Discovery and Preparation

Both parties exchange information and evidence during the discovery process. Your attorney will prepare your case for court.

Settlement Discussions and Mediation

Even after a lawsuit is filed, there may be opportunities for settlement discussions and mediation. This can occur at various stages of the legal process.

Pretrial Motions

Both parties may file motions to address legal issues before the trial. This phase involves legal arguments and decisions by the court.

Trial Preparation

Your attorney will thoroughly prepare for trial, gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and formulating legal arguments.


If a settlement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial. Both sides present their cases, and a judge or jury decides the outcome.


The court issues a judgment based on the trial’s outcome. This may include an award for damages if the plaintiff (injured passenger) prevails.

Appeals (if applicable)

Either party may choose to appeal the judgment if they believe legal errors occurred during the trial.

Enforcement of Judgment

If you win a judgment, your attorney will work to enforce it, ensuring you receive the compensation awarded.

Throughout this process, having a skilled personal injury attorney is crucial. They can guide you, negotiate on your behalf, and represent your interests to secure the best possible settlement or judgment. Keep in mind that each case is unique, and the specific steps may vary based on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the legal strategy pursued.

Get Connected with an Attorney

Looking to see what your settlement is worth? Contact LawLinq to get a free accident consultation. All consultations are free and we work with some of the best car accident attorneys in the state.


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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