This page looks at the settlement and trial value of personal injury cases in California. This page was last updated on April 1, 2020.
Jury Verdict Research found that the average money damage award for personal injury trials in California is $1,814,094. The median verdict, perhaps a better statistic, is $114,305. Other interesting facts from the study:
- The median verdict in a wrongful death case is $2,212,936, compared to the national average of $1,450,000
- Approximately 17% of the verdicts in California were back and neck strains. They pull the median and average verdicts down. The median back and neck strain verdict was $10,885
- California plaintiffs in personal injury cases received an award 41% of the time.
- The median California disc injury verdict was $84,550 compared to the national average of $50,000.
- Brain injury verdicts are worth more in California, but not as much as a lot of other types of injuries. The median for California brain injuries is $1,595,000. Nationally, the median verdict is $1,400,000
It is certainly fair to summarize all of this by saying that juries in California put a higher value on personal injury cases than the average American does.
Sample California Verdicts
Below are some sample verdicts and settlement in traffic accident cases in California, These are helpful in learning the value of your accident claim. But, please, take them with a grain of salt, too. No two cases are the same, and there are many variables that can’t be covered in these summaries.
- Taplin v. Fuqua |2020| $50,000: A woman and her children sustained multiple injuries in a hit-and-run case involving a drunk driver. Each of them sustained head injuries. The mother sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck and back. She underwent three months of chiropractic treatment. Her son sustained a right clavicle abrasion and a headache. Her daughter sustained soft tissue injury to her neck and a lip laceration. The pretrial settlement amounted to $50,000.
- Plaintiff v. Defendant |2020| $2,000,000: This is a medical malpractice case. After three surgeries, the plaintiff continued to experience pain in his left hand, which prevented him from working as a veterinarian. His first surgery involved clot removal in his left brachial artery, which had caused him left arm pain. He noted that his left hand was pulseless after surgery. His second surgery involved bypass of his left upper extremity. However, he experienced difficulties in getting a pulse in his arm. He underwent a third surgery with a different vascular surgeon, after which, his condition did not improve. The plaintiff sued the surgeon who conducted the first two surgeries. He alleges that if the defendant performed a CT angiogram after the second surgery, he would have discovered a thrombus that would have necessitated further surgery that would have allowed him to get back to work. The parties reached a confidential settlement of $2,000,000. California has a ridiculously low cap in medical malpractice cases for pain and suffering damages. What made this case viable for the plaintiff is that he had very high past and future lost wages.
- Larson v. Plaintiff |2020| $615,000: A transportation employee of a production studio sustained left foot fractures and the defendant driver struck his vehicle. Specifically, the injured worker sustained great toe fracture, Lisfranc injury to his mid-foot (Cam Newton suffered this injury last year), and a fifth metatarsal fracture. He initially refused medical attention but drove himself to the hospital later that day. He underwent surgery to repair his great toe and Lisfranc injury. His great toe became necrotic, and would eventually be amputated. To his credit, he continued to work. But he has chronic pain in his central nervous system. He also claimed to need further surgeries that include a spinal cord stimulator implant and a below the knee leg amputation. The jury awarded the plaintiff $615,000. This includes $90,000 in personal injury and $200,000 in future medical costs.
- Curry v. San Ramon Valley Unified School District |2020| $8,000,000: High school student was in a pool with his classmates as a part of a physical education class when he drowned. Just an awful tragedy. His parents allege that his P.E. teacher’s failure to properly supervise the class resulted in their son’s wrongful death. Their wrongful death case also alleged that school failed train the teacher properly. Parents’ counsel contended that there were no lifeguards there and that the physical education teacher was using his cellphone while students treaded water. The next swim class found his drowned when they came to use the pool. The case settled for $8,000,000 before trial. All of these cases are awful. This one seems particularly awful, right?
- Anonymous v. Anonymous | 2019 | $823,045 verdict. A husband and wife were rear-ended by a box truck. Both the husband and the wife suffered both neck and back injuries. The husband ultimately had micro-decompression lumbar surgery.
- Luther v. Castillo | 2018 | $37,000 verdict. The defendant negligently struck the plaintiff’s vehicle while she was proceeding through the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Mary Street in Riverside, California. Plaintiff allegedly suffered injuries to her face, back, chest and knee. The defendant denied liability. The complaint was filed in May 2017 and the case went to trial in December 2018. The jury in Riverside County found the defendant was responsible for the accident and awarded $37,000 in damages.
- Lo v. Southern Cal. Gas Co. | 2018 | $41.8 million verdict. Plaintiff was stopped at a traffic light on his motorcycle when he was rear-ended by an SCGC gas truck. The driver of the gas truck apparently suffered an epileptic seizure and lost control which caused him to slam into the back of the plaintiff’s motorcycle. Both the driver and SCGC were apparently aware of his medical condition but failed to reassign him to a non-driving position. Plaintiff suffered a “degloving injury” to his right thigh with a femoral fracture, a femoral artery injury, a femoral nerve transection, an ankle fracture and loss of skin, tissue, and muscle.
- Souillere v. Suzuki Motor Company | 2018 | $8 million verdict. Plaintiff, a 28-year old hairstylist, was riding his Suzuki motorcycle on the highway when his front brake failed and he was thrown from the bike and wedged in between 2 vehicles. Plaintiff suffered 6 major bone fractures requiring numerous surgeries and leaving him with permanent physical limitations. He sued the motorcycle manufacturer, Suzuki, claiming that the front brake cylinder had a serious design flaw that caused it to periodically fail. Suzuki denied the design flaw. The jury in Orange County found in favor of plaintiff and awarded damages totaling $8 million – which included $6 million in punitive damages.
- Valdez v. California | 2017 | $1,265,000 Settlement. Two California Highway Patrol (“CHP”) officers pulled over a car suspecting a DWI in Bloomington (about 10 minutes from San Bernardino). They called a tow truck to impound the car. The vehicle to be impounded was in a lane of traffic. So the tow truck driver had to go into traffic to rescue the vehicle. A drunk driver came by and struck and killed the tow truck driver. He left behind his mother and two young daughters. The family sued the CHP for failing to mark off the road to protect the tow truck driver. The CHP tried to blame everyone else, most notably the decedent and the drunk driver but ultimately settled the case for $1,265,000.
- Alejandrez v. Archdiocese of Los Angeles | 2017 | $1,400,000 Settlement. Two male plaintiffs were loading the trunk of their parked vehicle in Los Angeles when a priest struck their vehicle. The priest’s defense was that he become unconscious as a result of an unforeseeable diabetic coma while operating his vehicle. The case settled with one plaintiff getting $800,000 and the other getting $600,000.
- Packard v. FedEx Ground | 2017 | $1,487,000 Verdict. Plaintiff was rear-ended in Adelanto, California by a FedEx Ground Package System driver. He suffered a disc herniation in his neck at C3-3-4, had mild disc bulges in his back at mild L4-L5 and L5-S1, and had pain in his legs, hand, arm, back, and neck.
- Petterson v. Ghaemi | 2012 | $31,178 Verdict. A Zurich insured defendant is driving his tow truck when he makes a left hand turn into the plaintiff. Plaintiff and her passengers, two adults and a three-year-old child, are all injured in the crash. Among the injuries are disc protrusions, neuro formal stenosis, reduced motion in waist and neck, and soft tissue injuries. The defendant denies liability and disputes the reasonableness of plaintiff’s chiropractic sessions. A Los Angeles County jury awards a $31,178 verdict.
- Goodman v. Marshall | 2012 | $1,850,000 Settlement. A 47-year-old dentist is rear-ended by a 16-year-old going 50 mph in his dad’s car. The teenager later admits having been illegally under the influence of his friend’s prescription drugs. Plaintiff suffers severe injuries from the crash, including a constant and permanent pain. The dentist is forced to see orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists in an attempt to alleviate the pain and damage to his back. Defendant admits responsibility but claims that plaintiff only sustained soft tissue injuries that should have healed in a few weeks; anything further was prior conditions and stresses related to dentistry. Eventually, the defendant’s insurance carrier Navigator made an acceptable $1,850,000 offer. Defendant’s father’s insurance, ASCS, paid $15,000 as the owner of the vehicle.
- Corbin v. Pascarella | 2012 | $10,400 Verdict. A driver insured by the Interinsurance Exchange of the Auto Club runs into plaintiff in an intersection. The crash causes lower back, neck, and shoulder pain to plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter. Defendant settles her claim privately with the mother, but a Los Angeles County jury awards a $10,400 verdict to the daughter.
- Reveles v. O’Neal | 2013 | $5,000 Verdict. The defendant driver crossed the double yellow line and ran headfirst into the plaintiff. Plaintiff receives injuries costing $70,000 in medical bills, but the information is not presented at trial because he did not call a doctor to testify. A San Diego County awards $5,000, which is paid by the defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.
- Ducharme v. Christian | 2012 | $100,000 Settlement. A 19-year-old college student was driving late at night when she is struck by State Farm insured defendant. The defendant was intoxicated at the time and made an illegal left-hand turn. The young plaintiff receives severe injuries and must be taken to a hospital by ambulance. Plaintiff undergoes several surgeries on her arm to treat the fractures and nerve displacement. She requires aggressive titanium screws, aggressive rehabilitation, and continually suffers from pain in her arm, elbow, and wrist. The parties reached a $100,000 settlement.
- In re Ricalde | 2012 | $15,000 Verdict. Plaintiff is a nine-year-old passenger in his mother’s vehicle. He is injured when the car is broadsided by GEICO insured defendant. The victim suffers a toe fracture and is awarded $15,000 by a San Diego County jury.
- Merrill v. Sotos | 2012 | $50,000 Settlement. Defendant driver, suddenly and without warning, ignores the red traffic light and speeds into an intersection. He rams into the plaintiff head-on. The plaintiff is knocked unconscious and receives several back fractures and spine sprains. Plaintiff sues both defendant driver and Allstate, his UIM carrier. The unnamed county jury awards the victim $15,000 to be paid by the defendant’s insurance carrier, Farmers, and $35,000 to be paid by Allstate.
- Tapola v. Mercury Insurance Company | 2012 | $1,137,500 Settlement. A family is driving down a lonely rural California road. A defendant driver comes from the opposite direction and fails to yield when performing a left turn. The horrific crash is so severe it traps the plaintiffs inside their vehicle. The sister suffers a permanent disfigurement to her foot that features constant swelling, pain, and is slightly shorter than the other. The mother, who is five months pregnant, is cut out of the wreckage and transported to the hospital by helicopter. She loses the baby. She additionally suffers a broken femur and pelvic fracture
which requires several operations and support implants. Her extended hospital stay causes her to start coughing up blood and eventually developing pulmonary embolism, which requires more surgery. The defendants admitted liability and his insurance carrier, Mercury Insurance Co., settled in Los Angeles County for $1,137,500.
- Wawanesa General Insurance Co. v. Gonzalez | 2012 | $2,415 Settlement. The defendant is involved in an accident with the plaintiff’s insured. Defendant caused the plaintiff $118,731 in damages, and the plaintiff seeks subrogation. The San Diego County jury only awards Wawanesa General Insurance Co. $2,415.
- Tompkins v. Modafferi | 2012 $100,000 Settlement. A 43-year-old plaintiff is crossing the street when he is struck by State Farm insured defendant. Plaintiff receives leg fractures in both legs that require surgery to treat. He is advised that he may need two total knee replacement operations in the future. Defendant denies liability and claims that the victim was not in the crosswalk. Police who were at the scene placed 100% of the fault on a plaintiff, but the parties still reach a $100,000 settlement.
- Messina v. Bayne | 2012 | $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped in traffic when he is rear-ended by Farmers insured defendant driver. Plaintiff initially only took one day off and returned to his work at Trader Joe’s, but soon saw a chiropractor four different times. He claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale, and later switches chiropractors and attends more sessions. Plaintiff later takes an additional 11 days off of work and attends a physical therapy from February 2010 to November 2010. Farmers insurance contests the validity of the chiropractor visits and denies the additional lost wages claims. A San Bernardino County jury, however, awards the plaintiff all the damages he was seeking.
- Wong v. Tom | 2012 | $7,363,761 Verdict. A fully loaded family car is traveling on the highway. The defendant, insured by CSAA, collides with the plaintiffs. The father is killed outright, and the mother receives fractured ribs, facial burns and bruises, hip injuries, and emotional distress. The daughter receives a broken arm, facial lacerations, and emotional distress while the relatively unscathed son suffers a loss of consortium. The defendant is discovered to have been intoxicated at the time of the accident and the plaintiffs seek further punitive damages for his malicious conduct. A San Mateo County awards the surviving family members $7,363,761.
- Trinh v. Elissa | 2012 | $125,000 Verdict. Plaintiff is an in-line skater who is rolling across a parking lot with a group of friends. The defendant is driving his car in the wrong direction and runs into the skater. The impact breaks the plaintiff’s femur that requires surgery, screws, and rods. Plaintiff claims the defendant was negligently driving. Defendant counters that it was dark at the time of the accident and that the skater was moving at an unsafe speed on the wrong side of the entryway. Defendant presents the police report as evidence that primarily faults the plaintiff. However, Mercury Insurance, the defendant’s carrier, is directed to pay out $125,000.
- Harvey v. Torres | 2012 | $331,705 Settlement. The plaintiff is waiting at a red light when the State Farm insured defendant driver rear-ends his vehicle. Plaintiff receives several back and shoulder injuries. An MRI reveals an annular disruption and an S1 compression. The plaintiff receives four lumbar spinal epidural injections to attempt to ease the pain. Plaintiff contends that the accident and all of his injuries were caused by defendant’s negligence. Defendant accepts liability but claims that the spine injuries were pre-existing. State Farm, who is both the defendant’s and the UIM carrier, settles with the plaintiff for $331,705.