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Car Accident - what are typical and do i have aggravating circumstances that would increase the multiplier (any case law in CA)?

San Diego, CA |

I was stop at traffic light, rear ended by an unlicensed uninsured driver (not owner) and pushed into front car. Speed about 45-55mph. Wife and 1 yr child in the car. Child is fine. Wife and I had headaches and sore necks for 1 month. I still have occasional localized headaches, Dr said nothing to be worried. prescribed med, which i cant take as i watch our child. Driver was under 21, licenses suspended 1 month prior for DUI (by BAC). I suspected the kid driver and owner was under the influence of marijuana, they and the car reeked. Called police but they did not want to come. owner's car insurance has admitted 100% liability. Insurance is using only my car damages as a limit to settle, shouldnt it be all 3 car total damages and do i have aggravating circumstance?

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Attorney answers 8


Property damages is separate from injury damages. They should pay to fix your car and for rental. If cost to repair exceeds fair market value, then the car is totaled and they should pay fair market value. Injury damages primarily based on how much in medical bills paid, wage loss/time off wiork due to injury, and pain and sufferring. The greater the injury, more invasive the treatment, and the more disabling the injuries were affecting your normal activities, the greater the pain and sufferring. The length of time it took to heal, whether you completely recovered etc arre important too. If the police had come and arrested the driver for being under the influence, you would have proof. You could then sue for punitive damages (those wouldnt be covered by ins). Sometimes in aggravated cases like dui, the value of the case can be a bit higher as the ins co knows the jury wont like the drunk driver, and may award you more damages than otherwise. The value of the injury claim is not a mutiplier of the property damage. You could give Kane Handel a call as she is in San Diego and dioes PI. She would give you a free consult.


Mr. Kopleson provided a very good answer. I do not understand your question. You indicate the at fault driver was unlicensed and uninsured, but then you refer to the owner's car insurance. If no insurance submit your injury claim under your uninsured motorist provision of your policy. Property damage is a separate claim. Hire a personal injury lawyer. GoodLuck!


Best bet is to retain a personal injury lawyer to get maximum compensation


The old "multiplier" approach to calculating settlement value of an injury case are largely a thing of the past. Retain an experienced personal injury attorney in your jurisdiction to evaluate the facts of your case. That's the only way to truly analyze full fair value of your and your wife's case. Here's an article addressing claim value and the old fasioned "multiplier" approach: BLUE LINK BELOW

Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers, North Andover, MA & Derry, NH provide answers for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be given by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, thoroughly familiar with the area of the law in which your concern lies. This creates no attorney-client relationship.


Like the other attorneys here have already stated, your (1) Property Damage claim is different from and compensated separately from your (2) Personal Injury claim.

A good place to start your research on what damages you can claim, take a look at the California Civil Jury Instructions, Series 3900 - Damages -

Aside from the distinction between the damages claimed under Property Damage versus Personal Injury, there is also a lesser known item that you may want to consider:

Replacement/Reimbursement for your Child's Car Seat -

California Insurance Code, Section 11580.11 states in relevant part that: "obligation to replace the child passenger restraint system or reimburse the claimant for the cost of purchasing a new passenger restraint system in accordance with this section if it was in use by a child during the accident or if it sustained a covered loss while in the vehicle."

Your 1 year-old child should have been in a child seat at the time of the accident. As long as your child was using the child seat, then you may be entitled to have the defendant's insurance company replace or reimburse you for a new child seat.

The "aggravating circumstances" as you've referred (i.e. suspended license, drug use, etc.) are not relevant to your calculation of Compensatory Damages. Facts relevant to your compensatory damages calculation are things such as repair cost, depreciation value, medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering, etc.

On the other hand, if you seek Punitive Damages then said "aggravating circumstances" may be relevant to your damages calculation. However, punitive damages are pretty hard to achieve. See, California Civil Jury Instructions, No. 3940.

Best of luck to you!

This information is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is intended for general informational purposes only. Said information is given in the context of California law.


I live and work in California and deal with accidents like yours, so I am happy to answer your question. The answer to your question is your gut instinct is right!! Our firm does not use the property damage as a multiplier for settlement purposes. We look at the case as a whole and attempt to figure out what the settlement should be. The insurance company will make you believe that your case is worth very little... You should definitely hire an attorney to get the maximum amount possible. Regarding pain and suffering, you need to speak to an experienced attorney that can strategize your case. Just because you were in an accident doesn't mean you have pain and suffering, at least thats what the insurance companies think. Make no doubt about it you have a great case, but you need help from a professional. You are entitled to your medical bills being covered as well. You should be filing a claim, but you should do it through an attorney. Whenever someone makes a claim against an insurance company the insurance company usually gives you a very difficult time. I've seen insurance companies lie to their own insured before!

Do you feel that you are at the same medical condition that you were before the accident? As a basic premise I wouldn't handle your claim by yourself. The attorney you hire can likely refer you to a doctor, if you ask for one, who will see you with no upfront payment! I've done this many times to help my clients out. You should not wait a single day to hire a lawyer, we will advise you on the strategy of your case. There is no upfront cost to hire an attorney.

With a case like yours it seems like you have some good facts in order to get a high settlement, but your case definitely needs to be developed further to corroborate your story. The most important thing when building your case are: liability (were you at fault); how bad are your injuries to your body. A lot of these things sound like they are not complete yet in your case so its something that is worth hiring an attorney for in order to get a sense of whether you have a case and what the strategy would be for you to build a strong case! I've handled many of these cases in the San Diego, CA area.

Its very possible that your case is worth more than the $$$ that the insurance company will offer you by yourself. Make your life easier and call an attorney today, you won't regret it. We give free consultations!

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference


They're messing with you because you're not represented. Get a lawyer.


Typically auto policies provide two types of coverage in any given accident: (1) property damage in an amount up to the property damage policy limit, and; (2) personal injury damage in an amount up to the personal injury damage policy limit. The personal injury damage policy limit depends upon whether there is only one person in your car or more than one person. There will be a lower policy limit if only one person is in the car. If there is more than one person in the car, there will be a separate and higher policy limit applied to all the people in the car. Since you are unrepresented, the insurance will take advantage of this. You should find a trusted lawyer in your area to negotiate what will hopefully be a higher settlement than you will be able to do on your own.

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