What Damages Are Available in a Car Accident Case?
Damages, known as compensation, available in California car accident cases fall into two basic categories: economic and non-economic. The amount of the former, also known as special damages, are readily identifiable, such as the costs of medical care or repair or replacement of a motor vehicle. The latter is more subjective and may include the accident victim’s pain and suffering from injuries or emotional distress. Although some states place limits on non-economic damages in personal injury claims, that is not the case in California.
However, California is a pure comparative fault state, and in a trial, the jury may decide that a driver who was not primarily at-fault for the accident does bear some responsibility. Even if that liability is just 10 percent, it will reduce the number of damages received by that percentage. For example, $100,000 in compensation is thus reduced to $90,000.
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California is typically two years from the date of the accident but is just six months if any type of government agency vehicle was involved in the crash.
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Ellis Injury Law can help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our team has won serious personal injury lawsuits for clients totaling more than $350 million over the past quarter-century.
The injured person must keep good records of all medical expenses related to the accident, including not only doctors’ and hospital bills, but also any pharmaceutical costs, transportation to and from healthcare providers, physical therapy, assistive devices, the cost of home attendants and the like.
Those with long-term or permanent injuries may receive damages for their future accident-related medical costs. Medical professionals can testify as to the individual’s prognosis and anticipated needs.
Lost wages are economic damages and easily calculated. Unfortunately, not as easily verifiable is the calculation of lost employment or business opportunities. These amounts are determined by the victim’s age, level of education, type of employment, and testimony by economists or other financial professionals.
Property damage may involve not only the costs of repairs needed for the car but also the loss of items within the car at the time of the crash, such as laptops or other devices. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff has three years from the accident date in which to file a property damage lawsuit. Compensation may also include the costs of rental cars needed until the personal vehicle was repaired, so keeping accurate records is, again, imperative.
Pain and Suffering
When a person is severely injured, pain and suffering damages often make up the major part of their compensation. A personal injury lawyer will present the plaintiff’s medical records, showing the extent of the physical injuries via X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic tools.
Pain and suffering compensation is calculated in various ways. One method is that of the multiplier, in which the total medical expenses are multiplied by a factor of five or six to arrive at a reasonable figure. Another is the per diem method, which calculates damages based on a daily rate. For example, if the victim took 100 days to recover completely from the collision, at $100 per diem their pain and suffering are worth $10,000.
However, in accidents where the victim is permanently disabled, other methods may come into play for arriving at a fair settlement amount.
Other common non-economic damages include disfigurement and reduction of quality of life.
Loss of Consortium
The spouse of a married plaintiff may join his or her spouse’s personal injury lawsuit and sue the at-fault driver for loss of consortium. Damages may include the loss of the spouse’s companionship, marital relations, and having to view the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.
Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a family member received severe injuries in a motor vehicle accident resulting from another driver’s negligence or recklessness, contact the experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law. We offer free consultations, so call us today or complete our online form. We will evaluate your claim and let you know your options. Since we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win compensation for you.