How are Damages Calculated in CA Accident Cases?
When an individual is injured or killed due to the reckless acts or omissions of another party, they are entitled to compensation for their injuries. The term commonly used for this is known as “damages”. The party that is at-fault is responsible to pay damages to the injury victim. In some instances, there may be more than one responsible party, and in a large number of personal injury cases, damages are paid by the responsible party’s insurer.
Compensatory Damages in California Accident Cases
Damages to compensate an accident injury victim can be divided into two general categories; economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are actual costs incurred to treat and recover from the injury. Non-economic damages are those that you cannot assign a dollar value to.
There are several categories of economic damages that an injury victim may incur. These include:
- Property Damage: In many CA accident cases, there is property that is damaged or lost. For example, in a car accident case, there is usually severe damage to the vehicle the injured party was driving; and in many instances, the car is totaled.
- Medical Bills: One of the largest expenses an injury victim incurs is for medical costs. This may include medical attention and/or hospitalization immediately after the accident, rehabilitation costs, and ongoing medical expenses when the victim suffers a debilitating injury. Where there is a serious and catastrophic injury, medical costs can quickly add up to tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Lost Wages: Injury victims who are employed may have to miss several days or even weeks from work to recover. If the injury is severe and debilitating, they may no longer be able to work, or they may have to leave their current job for something that doesn’t pay as much. Injured parties should be compensated for lost wages and loss of future earning capacity resulting from the injury.
- Funeral and Burial Costs: If the victim was killed in the accident, it becomes a wrongful death case. In such cases, the victim’s loved ones should be compensated for funeral and burial expenses.
Categories of non-economic damages may include:
- Physical Pain and Suffering: Those who suffer serious injuries usually have frequent, even ongoing physical pain that continues for an extended period of time. It is hard to put a price on the physical pain and suffering an injury victim has to endure, but in the most severe cases, juries have been known to award large amounts in this category.
- Psychological Trauma: Another component of a serious injury that is hard to quantify is the emotional distress the victim suffers as a result. For example, many individuals have to deal with anxiety, fear, sleepless nights, and similar problems.
- Loss of Enjoyment: Suffering a serious injury often deprives the victim of being able to participate in certain activities they used to enjoy. For example, if someone enjoyed going surfing at Ocean Beach and was no longer able to because of their injury, they may be entitled to compensation for loss of enjoyment.
- Loss of Consortium: A close relationship of the victim may be able to pursue compensation for loss of consortium due to the victim’s serious injury or wrongful death.
There is a separate category of damages that are not intended to compensate the victim for injuries, but rather to punish the responsible party for their actions or omissions. These are known as “punitive damages”. These types of damages are rare and only awarded in cases in which the injured party was harmed by especially egregious or reckless conduct.
California Pure Comparative Negligence Laws
The damages awarded in a CA accident case may be reduced if the injury victim shares some responsibility for the accident. Under California’s pure comparative negligence standard, victims are still able to recover compensation even if they are partially at fault. However, their damage award is reduced in direct proportion to the percentage they are determined to be at-fault. For example, if the total amount of damages calculated equal $200,000 and the injured party was 10% at-fault, their award would be reduced by $20,000.
Contact a Skilled San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in an accident in California and the accident was caused by another party, you need experienced legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At Garmo and Garmo, we have extensive experience successfully representing personal injury victims in San Diego, El Cajon, and surrounding Southern California communities. We understand the complexities of these types of cases and how to accurately calculate damages. This helps ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries.
For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 619-441-2500. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.