Recovering Compensation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

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January 24, 2018
Edward Smith

Recovering Compensation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Recovering Compensation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton personal injury lawyer. A common question asked when people phone a personal injury attorney is whether they have a case. Because those who have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence have to meet certain criteria to claim compensation, knowing what criteria must be met is important.

What Is a Personal Injury?

Claims for a personal injury are handled through civil court, not through criminal court. The injury involved must be to yourself or an individual in your family, not just to your personal property such as a home or vehicle. The injury must have been caused by negligence. For example, a driver ran a red light or was driving drunk and struck your vehicle, causing injuries to yourself or your loved ones. Financial damages must result from the injury such as medical expenses and time away from work.

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What Must Be Proved in a Personal Injury Case?

A person who has suffered an injury must prove four things in order to bring a personal injury lawsuit against another person or entity such as a company.

  1. The plaintiff, which is the person who is bringing the lawsuit, must prove that the defendant had a duty of care toward the injured person. For example, a driver who was injured must show that the driver that struck their vehicle was expected to drive in the way a responsible person would.
  2. The defendant failed in that duty.
  3. The defendant’s actions or, in some instances, inaction, was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, both physically and legally.
  4. The plaintiff’s injuries were caused directly by the defendant’s negligent actions, and the resulting financial loss was a direct result.

What Kind of Financial Damages Can Be Recovered?

An injured person may be able to claim compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include financial loss due to expenses incurred because of the accident. Noneconomic damages include reimbursement for emotional and psychological damages to the injured person.

Economic Damages include the following:

  • The cost of medical care, past and future, including hospitalization, physician’s appointments, prescriptions and rehabilitation. Out of pocket expenses are also recoverable. These can include taxi fare to and from medical appointments.
  • Lost work, the time a worker is off work, including any bonuses or other financial incentives during this period, can be reimbursed. This also includes work in the future if the injured person is unable to return to their job or retraining costs if they cannot return to the same job. Lost wages can also be recovered if the injured person is self-employed.

Noneconomic Damages are the following::

  • The plaintiff can be reimbursed for disfigurement such as scarring, loss of a limb or other types of permanent damage.
  • Household or domestic services, along with at-home medical care can be recovered.
  • Loss of consortium or loss of spousal support and interaction is recoverable.
  • Pain and suffering due to the accident and during recovery is allowed.
  • Emotional distress such as anxiety, sleeplessness, nightmares or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are considered noneconomic loss.
  • Suffering due to paralysis, amputation of a limb, blindness or other form of disfigurement is recoverable.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded to an injury victim only under special circumstances. This is because it must be proved that the injury was caused by an egregious act that was performed intentionally. In other words, the defendant meant to cause harm to the plaintiff. An example would be a driver striking another person on purpose to physically harm the individual.

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Stockton Personal Injury Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton personal injury lawyer. When you have suffered an injury through another person or entity’s negligent action, call me for free, friendly advice. I can be reached at (209) 227-1931. My toll-free number is (800) 404-5400. On my website,, you can also use my contact form online. I will get back to you promptly.

For feedback from my former clients, please visit:

With over 35 years of experience as an injury lawyer, I have been honored to have represented many residents of Stockton and Northern California to recover fair compensation in their wrongful death claims and other personal injuries such as brain injuries.

Million Dollar Advocates is a nationwide forum for trial lawyers who have garnered settlements or verdicts of $1 million for former clients. I belong to this group as a member from California. Information on my cases can be found at Verdicts and Settlements.

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