What are Damages in Personal Injury Cases?

If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual, company, or entity, you should be able to recover compensation for your losses. There are various types of compensation available in these situations, including economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Here, we want to discuss the various types of damages available in personal injury claims in California, as well as the importance of seeking assistance from an injury attorney for a personal injury claim.

Compensatory Damages in California

The vast majority of damages awarded in personal injury claims are classified as compensatory. This means that they are intended to compensate an injury victim for their injuries and other losses they sustained due to the incident. Compensatory damages are typically broken down into two categories – “economic damages” and “non-economic damages.”

  • Economic damages. Economic damages are those that are relatively easy to calculate in the aftermath of an accident. These calculations are done by gathering medical bills and other receipts and adding them up. Some of the most common economic damages that injury victims receive compensation for include the following:
    • Medical bills
    • Lost income
    • Lost property
    • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Non-economic damages. These damages are going to be harder to calculate than the economic damages listed above. That is because non-economic damages do not necessarily come with bills and receipts that can be added up and totaled out. These damages are often referred to as “pain and suffering,” and typically include compensation for the following:
    • Emotional and psychological trauma
    • Physical pain and suffering
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Loss of quality of life
    • Scarring and disfigurement
    • Loss of consortium for a spouse

Economic damages are usually calculated by gathering medical bills and receipts and adding them up. Non-economic damages are often calculated using a “multiplier method.” This includes taking the total amount of economic damages and multiplying them by a set number (usually 1.5 to 5) to arrive at the total for non-economic damages.

Punitive Damages in California

In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. Punitive damages are awarded when the conduct of the defendant is deemed particularly egregious, intentional, or outside of societal norms. These damages are intended to inflict punishment on the defendant while also sending a signal to others that the type of behavior displayed in this situation is not acceptable.

Working with a Personal Injury Attorney

It is crucial that you work with a skilled California personal injury attorney after sustaining an injury caused by another party. An attorney can use their resources and legal expertise to conduct a complete investigation into the incident. This includes working with skilled medical and economic experts to help calculate your total losses.

An attorney can negotiate with every party involved to ensure you receive a fair settlement and fully prepare your case for trial if necessary to ensure you are treated fairly. There are no caps on the total amount of economic, non-economic, or punitive damages that can be awarded in a personal injury case (with the exception of non-economic damages involving medical malpractice cases). An attorney will help ensure that your case is presented in a way that helps you receive the maximum compensation available.