California Personal Injury Settlements

Jury Verdict Research did a study on personal injury verdicts in California. The study shows the compensatory median award for personal injury trials in California is $150,000. This is a lot higher than the national average of less than $40,000. But plaintiffs receive money damages in only 45 percent of cases that go to trial, which is 5% less than the national average.

Average Verdict in California

But what is the average verdict in a tort case?  The average verdict is approximately $1.6 million.   There is a big difference between median and average — 10 times more. When you are using this to get some lens into your own case, it is tricky.  This is all how you turn the kaleidoscope.

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Sample Verdicts and Settlements

  • $6,000,000 Settlement (California 2023):  The lawsuit arose from a horrible accident where an elderly woman was fatally hit by a car at this crosswalk. The City of Glendale argued that the accident was caused by the driver’s speeding and not due to the crosswalk’s lack of safety features.  A $6 million settlement was finalized with the City of Glendale during the jury’s deliberation over the safety of the unmarked crosswalk. The crazy thing is that the pre-trial offer in is case was zero.
  • $40,000 Verdict (California 2023): This was an auto accident case in which the defendant allegedly drifted across the centerline resulting in a broadside collision with the plaintiff. The plaintiff, a middle-aged female, alleged injuries including cranial nerve damage, occipital neuralgia, chronic migraine headaches, and an unspecified shoulder injury. A jury in L.A. County awarded $40,000, which included $10,000 for future medical expenses.
  • $2,500,000 Verdict (California 2023): The plaintiff was traveling northbound on a freeway when an object was thrown up from the roadway and went through her vehicle window, striking her in the head and face and causing her vehicle to collide with the right guardrail. The plaintiff asserted the object was ejected from the roadway by a motorcycle driven by a Los Angles Police Officer and she filed suit against the City. The plaintiff allegedly suffered permanent brain damage from the accident, but the City denied that the debris came from the officer’s motorcycle. The verdict included $73,000 in future medical expenses and $2.4 million for pain and suffering.
  • $225,000 Verdict (California 2023): The plaintiff was reportedly operating her motorcycle near an intersection when it was struck by a vehicle operated by the defendant. The plaintiff claimed she suffered personal injuries, which included a mild traumatic brain injury, post-concussive syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), due to the collision. The defendant denied liability for the accident and also disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • 297,000 Verdict (California 2022):  The plaintiff, a minor, was seriously injured when she was attacked and bitten several times by a dog on property owned by the defendants which they leased to the dog’s owner. The lawsuit asserted strict liability claims under the California dog bite statute.
  • $3,000,000 Arbitration (California 2022): A man suffered a fever and severe bronchitis. His wife attempted to contact his primary care physician. She spoke with a telenurse instead. The telenurse scheduled a call with the man’s physician four hours later. The physician instructed the man to take over-the-counter medications. The following day, he presented to the ER. He was diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia and MRSA. The man also suffered kidney failure, acute respiratory failure, septic shock, neutropenia, and hemoptysis. He took antibiotics. The man died several days later. His wife alleged negligence against the healthcare provider. She claimed the telenurse failed to send him to the ER, schedule an in-person appointment, and appreciate his symptoms. Following arbitration, the widow received $3,000,000.
  •  $750,000 Verdict (California 2021): A 30-something man was T-boned at a Santa Monica intersection. The man suffered a C5-6 herniation. He underwent epidural steroid injections. The man now required a cervical disc replacement procedure. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed he ran a red light and failed to yield the right-of-way. A Los Angeles County jury awarded $750,000.
  • $2,250,000 Settlement (California 2021): A 24-year-old man was rear-ended in Torrance. He suffered an L5-S1 herniation. The man underwent epidural injections and chiropractic care. He also received a spinal cord stimulator implant. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he failed to safely operate his vehicle. This case settled for $2,250,000.
  • $832,798 Verdict (California 2021): A man was T-boned at an intersection in Los Angeles County. He suffered severe personal injuries. The man underwent medical treatment. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed she failed to maintain an appropriate lookout and yield the right-of-way. A Los Angeles County jury awarded $832,798.
  • $1,250,000 Settlement (California 2021): A 50-something woman was sideswiped. She suffered lumbosacral protrusions and cervical stenosis. She underwent chiropractic therapy, physical therapy, and spinal injections. The woman also underwent a cervical fusion. She experienced limited mobility and walking difficulties. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she made a negligent lane change and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $1,250,000.
  • $1,715,000 Settlement (California 2021): A 39-year-old pedestrian was struck at a crosswalk. She suffered a knee injury and multiple disc bulges. The woman initially underwent chiropractic therapy and epidural injection administration. She continued to experience back pain. The woman eventually underwent a spinal fusion, a neurostimulator implantation, and a knee arthroscopy. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed she failed to yield to a pedestrian and maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $1,715,000.
  • $10,000,000 Settlement (California 2021): Three people, a 33-year-old man, an 18-year-old woman, and an 18-year-old man, traveled along Interstate 15. They were rear-ended. The vehicle caught fire after a police vehicle struck it. The two men died at the scene. The woman suffered back fractures and third-degree burns to over one-fourth of her body. Her back fractures healed. However, the woman required scarring reduction and skin grafts. The woman and the two men’s surviving families claimed the initial driver drove while intoxicated, while the police officer excessively sped. This case settled for $10,000,000.
  • $5,000,000 Settlement (California 2021): A 5-year-old boy was hospitalized. He was intubated. The hospital staff removed the breathing tube. During the removal, the boy’s airway closed. He went into respiratory arrest. The boy suffered oxygen deprivation. He suffered a catastrophic brain injury. The boy now required round-the-clock care. His parents alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff negligently removed the breathing tube. This malpractice claim was resolved for a settlement amount of $5,000,000.
  • $5,700,000 Settlement (California 2021): A newborn girl suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. She developed permanent brain damage. The girl’s parents alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to properly administer Pitocin, timely address fetal distress, order a C-section, and timely resuscitate their child. This case settled for $5,700,000.
  • $1,400,000 Settlement (California 2021): A 22-year-old woman was struck at an intersection. She suffered rib fractures, a concussion, and an L4-5 herniation. She underwent physical therapy for four months. The woman also underwent a microdiscectomy. She continued to experience back pain. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he excessively sped and failed to yield to a pedestrian. This case settled for $1,400,000
  • $2,250,000 Settlement (California 2021): A 49-year-old roofer fell 18 feet to the ground off a roof he was working on. He suffered fractures to his cheekbone, his eye socket, skull, and C7 vertebra. The man also became unconscious because of his head injuries. An ambulance transported him to the nearest hospital, where he regained consciousness. He was hospitalized for three days. The man claimed residual pain, memory loss, and attention issues. He filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer, who was insured by California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund. The case settled for a settlement amount of $2,250,000.
  • $1,382,000 Verdict (California 2021): The 54-year-old nurse was driving in Torrance. As she slowed down in traffic, the vehicle behind her rear-ended hers.  She suffered an L4-5 disc bulge, mild stenosis, and resultant radiculopathy. The woman underwent a discectomy two years later. She also underwent spinal fusion surgery three months after the discectomy. The woman would eventually undergo revision fusion surgery the following year. She claimed that her injuries affected her ability to walk long distances, and she was more sluggish in her daily routines. The Los Angeles County jury awarded her a $1,382,000 verdict.
  • $21,513,000 Verdict (California 2020): An 18-year-old farmworker was a passenger in a van that was traveling on Avenue 15 in Madera. A vehicle rear-ended the van. The man suffered a C5 burst fracture. He was brought to the hospital, where staff performed emergency cervical surgery on him. The man was rendered a partial C4 quadriplegic following the surgery. He could only partly use his upper arms, wrists, and hands. The man was now wheelchair-bound for life. His doctors opined that the use of his hands and wrists were seriously impaired. The Madera County jury awarded him a $21,513,000 verdict.
  • $1,357,746 Verdict (California 2014): A woman was driving through an intersection when a 16-year-old, who possessed a provisional driver’s license, ran a red light and struck her vehicle. Following the collision, she was treated with multiple surgeries and years of physical therapy. She sued the driver and his parents (the owners of the vehicle) for negligence. Plaintiff claimed that at the time of the accident she was attending court reporting classes and now cannot work the job because she can no longer sit for extended periods of time. Plaintiff also claimed that she was expected to require at least three hip replacements during her lifetime. Defendants argued that the 16-year-old had come to a complete stop at the light, but took his foot off the brake, which caused the vehicle to roll into the intersection. However, two witnesses contested that Defendant driver was traveling at least 45 mph upon impact. A Kern County jury found in favor of the Plaintiff for $1,357,746.
  • $560,000 Settlement (California 2014): A 33-year-old state employee was driving her SUV on eastbound Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard in San Diego with her 2-year-old daughter and 61-year-old aunt riding as passengers. Without warning, a westbound truck veered into their lane and collided almost head-on. Both drivers and the passengers were taken by ambulance to separate hospitals. The state employee sustained a left ankle sprain, bruises to her chest, abdomen, both legs, and lacerations to her forehead and lower leg. She was also diagnosed with bulging lumbar disc and required epidural injections and physical therapy. Her aunt sustained eight fractured ribs, multiple lacerations throughout her body, and internal injuries that required her to be placed in a medically induced coma for three weeks after an emergency resection of 14-inches of her intestines. The two-year-old sustained a laceration to her upper lip, a bloody nose, and some abdominal bruising. They sued the driver of the truck and his employer for negligence. Defendant Employer claimed that Defendant Driver was driving his own personal pickup truck at the time of the accident and not in the scope of his employment. Defendant Driver claimed he had no recollection of the accident as he suffered a retroperitoneal hematoma prior to the collision, which rendered him unconscious, causing him to swerve into the Plaintiffs’ lanes. The plaintiffs’ counsel argued Defendant Driver suffered the retroperitoneal hematoma because of the collision, not prior. The parties agree to a total settlement of $560,000.
  • $1,250,000 Settlement (California 2014): An 80-year-old Korean War veteran became a resident of a veterans nursing facility after suffering from multiple strokes. He was later transferred to a sister nursing facility where he was dropped on two occasions while being transported by the facility’s caregivers. After the second fall, he suffered a fracture of his vertebrae that ultimately left him paralyzed below the waist. The immobility caused him to suffer from multiple, painful pressure sores, including a Stage 4 pressure sore on his left ankle. He sued the facility, claiming negligent hiring and supervision. The parties agreed to settle for $1,250,000.
  • California: $370,000 Verdict (California 2014): A 46-year-old was painting a property in Hemet when he leaned over the railing to clean a piece of his equipment. The railing collapsed underneath him and he fell, injuring his left shoulder. He visited a local emergency room where he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff of the left, dominant shoulder. The tear required two repair surgeries and physical therapy. He also sustained a herniated cervical disc from the fall. He sued the property owners, claiming the Defendants failed to warn of a dangerous condition. Plaintiff claimed he is unable to use his left arm, making him unable to run his painting company.  Defendants argued the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries, noting inconsistent exam results. A Riverside jury found in favor of the Plaintiff for $370,000.
  • $4,000,000 Settlement (California 2014):  A 16-year-old woman presented at a San Francisco hospital for labor. At the time, it became apparent that the infant was in distress, but by the time the child was ultimately delivered through Cesarean section, he suffered a catastrophic brain injury. Now seven years old, the child suffers from spastic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is unable to walk or crawl, cannot communicate, and requires 24-hour care. The child’s great grandmother sued the hospital on his behalf for medical malpractice, claiming the staff failed to timely deliver the infant when he demonstrated signs of distress. Defendant denied all liability. The parties agree to a settlement amount of $4,000,000.

California Personal Injury Law

Below is a summary of some of the most important aspects of personal injury law in California you need to know.

California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California a lawsuit in order to pursue compensation for their injuries. In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and it is important to consult with an attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations in a particular case.

California Collateral Source Rule

In California, the statute of repose for wrongful death and personal injury claims is a legal deadline that limits the time within which a plaintiff can file a lawsuit for damages. The statute of repose differs from the statute of limitations in that it is not based on the date of the injury or accident, but rather on the date of a particular event or occurrence.

The collateral source rule in California is a legal principle that allows an injured party to recover damages for their injuries and losses, regardless of whether they have received compensation from another source, such as insurance or benefits from a collateral source. This idea is counterintuitive for many.  But it is the law.

Under the collateral source rule, if an injured party receives compensation from a collateral source, such as insurance or workers’ compensation, the defendant is not entitled to a reduction in the damages awarded. This means that the injured party can still recover the full amount of damages from the defendant, even if they have already received compensation from another source.

For example, imagine a person is injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence. The injured person seeks medical treatment and incurs $500,000 in medical bills. They are insured and their insurance company pays $400,000 of the medical bills. Under the collateral source rule, the injured person can still recover the full $500,000 in medical bills from the negligent driver, even though they have already received $400,000 in compensation from their insurance company. This is a big deal in many cases because jurors of consider pain and suffering damages in light of the medical bills claims.

The collateral source rule is designed to prevent defendants from benefiting from the injured party’s foresight in obtaining insurance or other benefits. It ensures that the injured party receives the full amount of compensation they are entitled to for their injuries and losses, without being penalized for taking steps to protect themselves financially.

There are some exceptions to the collateral source rule in California. For example, if the injured party’s collateral source benefits were received as a result of the defendant’s negligence, such as workers’ compensation benefits, the defendant may be entitled to a reduction in damages. Additionally, the collateral source rule may not apply in certain types of cases, such as medical malpractice cases.

Informed Consent Law in California

In California, the law requires healthcare providers to obtain informed consent from patients before performing any medical procedure or treatment. This means that healthcare providers must disclose information to their patients about the nature of the treatment, the risks and benefits associated with the treatment, and any available alternatives.

The informed consent process is designed to ensure that patients are fully informed about their medical treatment options and can make an informed decision about their care. It also serves as a mechanism for healthcare providers to obtain legal protection against medical malpractice claims related to lack of informed consent.

In California, the informed consent process involves four key elements:

  1. Disclosure of information: Healthcare providers must disclose information about the nature of the treatment, including the expected benefits and risks, as well as any alternative treatments.
  2. Capacity: Patients must have the capacity to understand the information provided and make a decision about their treatment.
  3. Voluntariness: Patients must be making the decision voluntarily, without any undue pressure or coercion from the healthcare provider.
  4. Consent: Patients must provide their consent to the treatment, either orally or in writing.

If a healthcare provider fails to obtain informed consent from a patient, they may be held liable for medical malpractice if the patient suffers harm as a result of the treatment.

The informed consent process may vary depending on the type of treatment or procedure being performed. For example, some treatments may require more detailed disclosures than others, or may require special consent forms to be signed. It is very case specific which is why a jury is often needed to resolve the dispute over what the informed consent needed to be.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in California related to lack of informed consent, it is important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. An attorney can help you pursue compensation for your injuries and losses, as well as hold the healthcare provider accountable for their actions.

Battery v. Informed Consent

Battery is also a potential claim in an informed consent claim. If a doctor performs a treatment on a patient that is substantially different from the treatment for which the patient gave consent, it can be considered a clear case of battery. But the occurrence of an undisclosed potential complication, which was a known risk but not an integral part of the treatment procedure, is an informed consent issue under California law.

New 2023 California Law on Caps for Malpractice Attorneys’ Fees and Damages

Starting from 2023, the state of California has introduced new regulations on legal fees and non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits, through AB 35. This law, signed by Governor Newsom, defines new fee structures and damage caps.

The new legislation introduces modifications to existing law regarding the contingency fee that an attorney can contract for or collect. Previously, the law tied the contingency fee limits to the amount recovered, where an attorney could collect 40% of the first $50,000, 33% of the next $50,000, 25% of the next $500,000, and 15% of any amount exceeding $600,000. The new legislation, however, links the tiered fee limits to the phase of the representation when the recovery is made.

So under AB 35, the amount attorneys can collect from the award depends on when the recovery is made. If recovery is achieved through a settlement before filing a civil complaint or a demand for arbitration, attorneys can claim 25% of the award. If the recovery is made post the commencement of a case or arbitration, the attorneys can collect 33%.

The legislation also revises the existing cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages by increasing it and allowing for future increments to account for inflation. It introduces two distinct caps depending on whether the case involves a wrongful death claim. In a wrongful death case, the cap is raised to $500,000, with an annual increment of $50,000 every January 1st until it reaches $1 million. For medical malpractice cases not involving wrongful death, the cap starts at $350,000, with a yearly increase of $40,000 until it reaches a maximum of $750,000.

Getting Information on Your Case

The problem with these statistics and example outcomes is that they just cannot predict the value of your claim.   There are too many variables to consider and these variables have very different relative weights.

If you want to get more information about your claim, we may be able to call.  Get a free online case evaluation today.

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