In a personal injury lawsuit in California, compensatory damages are money paid by the negligent party to the victim to cover that victim’s losses or damages. Two broad types of compensatory damages may be awarded in the event of an accident or injury, including both economic and non-economic, and there are specific details surrounding these damages that are important for Californians to know.

In the meantime, if you have questions about a personal injury claim or the damages you can recover in a lawsuit, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified personal injury attorney in Orange County.

Types of Damages in a California Personal Injury Claim

First, it’s important to keep in mind that economic wholeness is the primary goal of compensatory damages. The first kind of these damages is economic damages, which may include quantified losses like medical bills, property repairs, and missed earnings.

By contrast, pain and suffering fall under non-economic damages, which are not quantified easily and, thus, are notoriously difficult to calculate.

What’s more, damages awarded for compensatory purposes are distinct from punitive damages, which are meant to penalize the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

Calculating Injury Damages in California

The worth of a personal injury lawsuit is often determined by calculating the total amount of possible damages. Per the California civil code for personal injury, the following stipulations apply:

  • Anyone who is harmed by another’s negligence may seek monetary damages from that person.
  • Injured parties who were not at fault for the incident in question might file a lawsuit in California to seek compensation for their losses.

Although monetary compensation cannot restore the harm done by careless parties, it may provide a foundation for a better future. Moreover, damages for a noncontractual breach of duty are calculated as the sum necessary to make whole any and all actual or potential losses that resulted from the violation.

Economic Damages in Personal Injury Claims

So, what are the details surrounding economic damages? These damages, also known as special damages, are meant to reimburse the plaintiff for any out-of-pocket costs they incurred as a result of the accident.

For instance, the vehicle crash victim may have seen their primary care physician for treatment of their injuries at their own expense. Therefore, in a personal injury case, the victim may seek financial compensation for things like medical bills or treatment costs from the motorist who caused the accident.

Several main types of economic losses may be identified and include but are not limited to the following:

In most cases, health insurance companies have negotiated a discounted cost with other service providers, and this rate will be utilized to determine compensation.

Finally, wages, commissions, bonuses, and other financial earnings or fringe benefits that the victim would have received if the accident hadn’t occurred are all considered lost wages or earnings. Pay stubs, W-2 forms, and the like are often accepted as evidence of such income loss. In addition, these damages incorporate Social Security (SSI) benefits and retroactive payments for potential missed years of work.

What Are Non-Economic Damages in Personal Injury?

As implied by its name, the term “non-economic damages” refers to those losses that are not directly related to financials. Non-economic damages attempt to put a monetary value on intangible losses like pain and suffering sustained in an accident.

In other words, there are no out-of-pocket costs associated with these damages. As mentioned previously, such losses are difficult to quantify and are referred to as general damages.

Subjective losses included in non-economic damages might comprise aspects like:

  • Trauma (emotional or physical)
  • The stress of long-term injuries (scarring or disability)
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in day-to-day life

If the accident in question did not happen on the job, the plaintiff could seek non-economic damages under California law.

Punitive Damages in California Injury Cases

Though victims of California personal injury accidents often secure the above types of damages successfully, courts award punitive damages rarely.

That said, in addition to compensatory damages, the court may still impose punitive damages, which are intended to punish the at-fault party.

For instance, if you were hit by a drunk motorist while crossing the street, a jury or judge will compensate you for time away from work and any medical bills incurred as a result of your injury. But when the at-fault driver has shown particularly detrimental or careless behavior (drinking and driving, in this case), the judge or jury may potentially impose punitive damages.

California’s Limits on Personal Injury Damages

In circumstances of personal injury, California law generally does not limit the amount of compensation that may be awarded.

Generally, the amount of money a plaintiff may seek in a personal injury lawsuit in California is unlimited, though medical malpractice claims do provide an exception to this rule.

For these medical malpractice cases, pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages are capped at $250,000. Unfortunately, this damage cap applies regardless of the extent of the victim’s losses or the number of defendants.

Call a Personal Injury Lawyer in Orange County

Facing the aftermath of a personal injury in any type of accident is daunting. Thankfully, our experienced accident attorneys here at Beckerman Anderson know how to deal with the challenges that victims face when filing a personal injury claim. Whether you were hurt in a car crash, dog attack, or slip-and-fall incident, we can assist you in claiming the compensation to which you are entitled.

Do not wait to get in touch with Beckerman Anderson if you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident in Costa Mesa or the surrounding areas of Orange County. Our attorneys will advise you on what to do next and will aggressively pursue the financial recompense you deserve.

We’re here to help you and your family get the justice you deserve after an accident, and we have a long, reliable track record. For a no-cost initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer serving Orange County, call (949) 409-4299 now.