Recovering Damages in a Personal Injury Case

When it comes to a personal injury, the damage can be much more than physical. For many victims, the aftermath of a severe accident means months off work, intense physical therapy, a series of surgeries, or simply a reduced quality of life. Fortunately, the law takes this into account and provides injury plaintiffs the opportunity to seek compensation for the entire spectrum of injuries they suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence – including both the seen and unseen. At The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers, you will work with a San Diego personal injury lawyer to establish the full value (short- and long-term) of all of your damages.

The Types Of Compensation Available

For victims of automobile accidents, there are two main types of damages available: compensatory and punitive. While compensatory damages are more popular, in the most damaging and grievous of cases, punitive damages may also be available.

Compensatory Damages

As the name implies, compensatory damages compensate you for your losses and expenses. This type of recovery is based on the plaintiff’s evidence of economic loss. Also known as “actual damages,” this category can include any of the following types of financial compensation:

  • Medical bills, co-pays, prescription drug costs, nursing care, rehabilitation costs, and any other medical-related fee.
  • Lost wages and the value of any missed benefits or promotions directly caused by the employee’s accident-related absence.
  • Lost future earnings based on the plaintiff’s projected lifetime earnings.
  • Property damage.
  • Costs associated with vocational rehabilitation.
  • Any other “verifiable monetary loss.”

For some of these categories – particularly lost future earnings and projected medical costs – it may be necessary to enlist the services of a financial expert to help calculate the precise measure of the financial impact caused by the accident. For other matters, a simple invoice or document detailing the expense will suffice.

General Damages

Unlike compensatory damages, general damages are not as easily quantifiable. For plaintiffs having suffered a catastrophic loss, significant injuries, or a drastic reduction in the quality of life, it may be possible to successfully seek compensation for the emotional and mental impact of a severe accident. In California, general damages include any of the following categories:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental suffering
  • Emotional stress
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Injury to reputation
  • Humiliation

This category of damages includes injuries that are “subjective, non-monetary losses,” and require a case that thoroughly details the lifelong impact of a severe accident and resulting injuries. In particularly severe cases, general damages awards can be considerable – often reaching into the six- and seven-figure range.

Economic Damages

These losses have assignable monetary values. The purpose of economic damages is to compensate for quantifiable losses. Some examples of economic losses include:

Medical Treatment. The most frequently cited type of economic damages, medical treatment includes current or future costs incurred by victims due to the automobile accident. Medical treatment can include trips to the doctor’s office, pharmaceutical costs, and physical therapy.

Income. You are entitled to compensation due to wages lost as a result of accidents suffered during an automobile accident. An automobile victim may also claim compensation for any work missed for the receipt of medical treatment. The category of income also includes future money lost based on earning potential and if you are unemployed then seasonal work or missed job interviews. If an individual dies during an automobile accident, the individual’s family members can sue for the totality of income lost due to the accident.

Property Damage. Any damage to vehicle, buildings, yard architecture or clothing can be included in property damages compensated for an automobile accident. An individual may also be compensated for damage to property contained within a car. Calculating the worth of property damage as a result of an automobile accident might prove difficult because the property might be partially damaged at the time of the accident.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are designed to compensate victims for immeasurable losses. These intangible and harder to calculate non-economic losses include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

Emotional Distress. Frequently linked to the most serious of car accidents, damages for emotional distress compensate a variety of negative emotions including fear, anxiety, and stress.

Loss of Consortium. “Loss of consortium” refers to the loss of companionship faced by spouses or family members when a loved one is injured. While often less than other types of compensatory damages, damages due to loss of consortium in the most serious of automobile accidents can lead to significant amounts.

Loss of Enjoyment. Injuries that keep you from doing any activity that you enjoyed before the accident can entitle one to recover damages for “loss of enjoyment.”

Pain and Suffering. This category refers to pain and discomfort suffered as the result of an accident. This category may also include pain and suffering that may extend into the future. Pain and suffering are highly individualized terms because each individual’s tolerance and pain threshold are different. Certain factors, however, can be used to measure one’s pain levels. In addition to medical examination, the automobile crash victim’s friends and family will be interviewed to determine how pain and suffering have impacted the individual’s life. An individual who is able to establish a greater presence of pain and suffering will be entitled to recover a larger amount of compensation.

Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury lawsuits intend to make the plaintiff financially “whole” again. As opposed to criminal law, civil laws are not generally designed to punish a defendant – unless the defendant’s conduct was so egregious, punitive financial measures are warranted.

In California, punitive damages may be attached to compensatory and general damages as a way to essentially punish a defendant for committing such heinous misconduct against the plaintiff. Accordingly, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions were intentional, malicious, or excessively reckless. In other words, punitive damages are not recoverable for simple accidents or even gross negligence.

How A Lawyer Can Help You

If you are attempting to obtain punitive damages, it is essential to employ the services of a lawyer. A talented lawyer will be well versed with situations that merit punitive damages and the elements that must be established to demonstrate that punitive damages are necessary. In the case of automobile accidents, punitive damages might be rewarded in situations involving driving under the influence. Individuals involved in particularly grievous situations like car accidents due to individuals who were driving under the influence should promptly employ the services of a lawyer who can begin collecting the evidence required to prove that punitive damages are warranted.

If you have been in an auto accident and might be entitled to receive either compensatory or punitive damage, call our skilled car accident attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers as soon as possible for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

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