Anyone who suffers loss or detriment resulting from the unlawful act or omission of another person is entitled to recover from the at-fault party compensation in money, i.e., damages. In personal injury cases, these are typically known as compensatory damages. These are in contrast to punitive damages whose purpose is intended to punish rather than compensate.
Compensatory damages are divided into two categories – SPECIAL (economic or pecuniary) damages that include medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, which may be fairly easily quantified, i.e., assigned a dollar value; and GENERAL (non-economic) damages, such as pain and suffering, which are more difficult to quantify and reduce to dollars and cents. There is no cap on compensatory damages in a California personal injury case. The jury or judge may make any fair and reasonable award.
The following is a list of some of the most common damages available in a personal injury case:
- Medical Bills
(Economic) Both past and future medical expenses may be recovered. A party may recover the reasonable value of medical expenses. For past medical expenses, the plaintiff must prove the reasonable cost of reasonably necessary medical care, as well as prove that it was, in fact, received. “Reasonable” means that the expense of the treatment and the necessity of the treatment were legitimate and that the treatment is for the injury caused by the defendant. To recover future medical expenses, the plaintiff must prove that the medical expenses incurred are reasonably priced; reasonably necessary, and reasonably certain to be needed in the future.
- Lost Wages
(Economic) The loss of earnings, both past and future, and the inability to pursue a career are additional special damages to which a plaintiff is entitled in any personal injury case. Those employed by conventional means (40-hour workweek) will be entitled to recover any earnings lost because of any work absence caused by the defendant. Loss of earnings includes any wages, commissions, bonuses, or any other financial earnings or fringe benefits that would have been obtained but for injury occurring.
- Property Damage
(Economic) Any damage to or loss of property caused by the accident is compensable in a personal injury case.
- Lost Earning Capacity
(Economic) The injured party may also recover damages when the injury prevents the pursuit of a career as intended. Damages reflect the amount that would have been earned, less the amount the injured party will eventually earn from alternative employment, if even possible.
- Pain and Suffering/Emotional Distress
(Non-Economic) This refers to both the mental suffering and the physical pain associated with an injury. It is treated as one category or concept rather than two separate ones. Pain and suffering include any physical pain endured, and any of the following types of emotional distress: fright; nervousness; grief; anxiety; worry; mortification; shock; humiliation; indignity; embarrassment; apprehension; and terror or ordeal.
Maison law’s years of representing clients in all types of personal injury cases, including wrongful death and survival actions, gives the firm extensive knowledge and experience litigating and settling personal injury matters. Maison Law passionately provides skilled representation and effective advocacy on behalf of all our clients. If you have any questions about any type of personal injury matter, call Maison Law and Martin Gasparian today. The experience of Maison Law helps us provide skilled, zealous representation on behalf of every client. Call Maison Law 24/7 at (559) 203-3333.