How often do personal injury claims from a car accident go to court?

The California court system tracks cases involving car accidents that cause $25,000 or more in damages.  The most recent data , published in 2016, shows that approximately 30,000 personal injury claims related to motor vehicle accidents are filed each year in California.

Out of those 30,000 cases, California courts have decided approximately 700 of the 30,000 or so major car accident cases filed each year.  This means that approximately 2% of personal injury claims from car accident cases actually go to trial, where they are decided by a judge or a jury.  These percentages are slightly higher or lower in different counties, but across the board, roughly 2% of all car accident cases go to court.

The above statistics only relate to car accident cases where the damages were greater than $25,000.  California does not track claims involving motor vehicle accidents where the damage was under that threshold (known as “limited civil” cases), or accident cases in small claims court.  However, for all limited civil cases — not just those related to car accidents — about 8%  went to trial.  In small claims court, which involves claims of under $10,000 and where the parties are less likely to be represented by attorneys, 57% of all cases are decided by the court.