Damages in Personal Injury Cases
I’m Ed Smith, a Rancho Cordova personal injury lawyer. Damages in a personal injury case provide financial compensation for the monetary loss resulting from another’s negligence. Damages can be either compensatory or punitive. Compensatory damages are subdivided into economic or non-economic damages.
These are the monetary losses that can be verified using a balance sheet. They include:
- Lost wages: The wages the person would have earned had the accident not happened.
- Medical expenses: These include emergency room costs, ambulance service, doctor fees, hospital bills, surgeon fees, medication, X-rays and MRI or CT scans. Labs, rehabilitation therapy, among other costs related to medical care, are also included.
- Future medical expenses: Any medical expense that may be necessary in the future that relates back to the original accident is included. This often requires expert testimony.
- Future loss of wages/lost earning capacity: Loss of the capacity to work in the future generally requires proof, usually in the form of expert testimony. The plaintiff’s (injured party) age, history of earnings, health, skills, life expectancy and training are considered.
- Household services: This involves the services needed after the accident that the plaintiff would have performed himself or herself.
Non-economic damages are subjective. Such damages are not defined by a balance sheet but are based on the physical, psychological and emotional loss the plaintiff suffered as a result of the injury. They can include:
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Humiliation or shame at being dependant on others
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of social engagement with family and friends
- Loss of consortium or marital love and sexual relations
- Inability to engage in civic events such as volunteering
- Reputation injury
Pain and Suffering
As a part of the non-economic damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff, pain and suffering require additional mention. It consists of both the physical and mental pain an individual may suffer after an accident. There are times when California law prohibits collecting non-economic damages. Some examples are:
- If the plaintiff was driving while impaired, he or she may not collect non-economic damages.
- The injured party was in a vehicle that they owned, and it was not insured.
- In the event the individual was injured while fleeing from the commission of a felony or in the process of engaging in a felony, he or she may not collect non-economic damages. This holds only if the person is convicted of the crime. The actual accident may be unrelated to the felony.
On occasion, if the defendant was driving drunk and the plaintiff was uninsured, the plaintiff may be able to collect non-economic damages. In medical malpractice cases, there is a cap on non-economic damages in the state. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to advise a client about collecting non-economic damages in light of the specifics of their case.
Under California Civil Code 3294, a plaintiff is able to seek exemplary or punitive damages when malice, fraud or oppression was committed by the defendant. Such damages are given in response to egregious conduct by the defendant. To obtain punitive damages, the plaintiff must offer clear and convincing evidence. This is a step up from the preponderance of the evidence demanded in personal injury cases.
An example of punitive damages would be those awarded to a plaintiff who has been injured by a drunk driver. In this case, the driver knew that by drinking and driving they were disregarding the safety of others on the road. If the vehicle was owned by someone other than the drunk driver, the owner may be included in the lawsuit under negligent entrustment. This means the owner entrusted his vehicle to someone who would negligently use it to harm another.
Rancho Cordova Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Rancho Cordova personal injury lawyer. When negligence ends in injury and financial loss, you may be swamped by bills without being able to work. When this happens, you need the input an experienced injury lawyer can provide. Reach out to me at (916) 921-6400 in the area and (800) 404-5400 toll free. You can also reach me online.
I’ve helped clients in the Rancho Cordova area and throughout Northern California to obtain just compensation for accident injuries. From traumatic brain injuries to car accidents, I’ve been at their side from start to finish.
The forum of nationwide trial attorneys known as the Million Dollar Advocates only allows members who have won $1 million or more for clients. I am a California member.
When you want to learn more about personal injury law topics, turn to AutoAccident.com.
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