Car accident

The Car Accident Settlement Process in California

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

So, you got injured in a car accident that was not your fault. At the scene, you exchanged names, addresses, phone numbers, and car insurance information with the other driver. You answered the questions of the police officer who came to investigate the collision. You went to the emergency room for an evaluation and treatment of your wounds. What happens next?

Unless you have been in this situation before, you probably have questions about the car accident settlement process in California. A California personal injury attorney can guide you through every step of the way and advocate on your behalf, including negotiating directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Here is an overview of how that works.

Keeping Track of Your Medical Bills 

Your medical records will be vital evidence of how much the treatment of your injuries costs. That dollar amount is usually recoverable from the person whose negligence caused the collision. You will want to keep a running list of all the treatments you received so your personal injury lawyer can include everything in your injury claim.

Also, your medical records will provide a link between your wounds and the accident that caused them. It is essential that you do not delay in seeking medical intervention. The other side will likely argue that something else, not the collision, caused your injuries if you do not get medical treatment right away. Your records will also establish the severity and extent of your injuries and the types of treatment, like surgery, that you had to endure to restore your health.

You Can Include Your Lost Wages in Your Personal Injury Claim

If you missed paychecks because of the accident, medical treatments, and recuperation time, that financial loss can be a part of your injury claim. Although the category gets called lost wages, you could be eligible for money damages for this loss whether you receive a salary, hourly wages, self-employment income, or other forms of regular income. Be sure to keep careful records of your lost income.

The Demand Letter

Your personal injury attorney will use your medical records and lost income information as well as any other out-of-pocket losses to evaluate the range of a fair settlement in your personal injury claim. Non-economic losses like disfigurement, pain and suffering, and ongoing disability will also be factors in the financial evaluation of your claim. 

Insurance companies and personal injury attorneys can access jury verdict databases that tell them how much money a jury would be likely to award to a person in your situation. Your lawyer will write a demand letter to the insurance company that states your claim for compensation and the amount of money you will accept to settle the case.


Usually, the insurance company does not ignore a demand letter from a lawyer in a personal injury claim. The insurer might make a counteroffer or deny liability for your injuries and losses. Sometimes, an aggressive claims adjuster will accuse the injured person of causing the accident, and demand that you pay money to the at-fault driver. 

Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company until they settle the case, reach an impasse, or the filing deadline approaches. If appropriate, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court asking the judge or jury to award you money for your injuries.

On the other hand, if the case settles, you will have papers to sign, like a settlement agreement and a waiver. The waiver means that you can never go after any more money from the at-fault driver for this accident after you settle. Every personal injury claim is unique, so your case might have slight variations from this general process. You do not have to battle with the billion-dollar insurance corporation by yourself. A California personal injury attorney can take care of your injury claim on your behalf. Get in touch with our office today, we offer a free consultation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.