Jun 10, 2021
Despite practicing safe driving habits and taking all necessary precautions on the road, the odds of being involved in a motor vehicle collision in Southern California are inordinately high. The California Highway Patrol’s most recent annual study confirmed 277,160 injuries were recorded in 193,564 motor vehicle crashes for 2017. Those are alarming figures, and while we certainly hope that you never have to experience an unfortunate car accident injury, it’s important to be aware of what types of damages are recoverable in the event of such an incident.
Below we’ll review what types of damages can be recovered after experiencing a car accident injury. We’ll also look at how to choose an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure the sum of those damages is maximized.
Following a car accident, a personal injury civil lawsuit is a means of collecting financial compensation for any losses resulting from the at-fault party’s actions. These losses are referred to as damages in legalese, and they can come in different forms. The types of damages that may be recoverable after a car accident can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the circumstances of the incident. Below we’ll review the available damages and discuss examples of how they may apply in a car accident claim.
In car accident (as well as most personal injury) claims, there are generally four types of damages that may be recovered. Those damages include special, general, wrongful death, and punitive.
Special compensatory damages may be filed for any financial hardships endured following a car accident. These damages typically go towards covering the cost of immediate medical bills, future medical care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and more.
Special damages also cover any costs that accumulate if the car accident victim is unable to work as a result of their injuries. Lost wages, lost earning capacity, rent and mortgage payments, and even costs associated with home renovations or required relocation (whether due to medical care or special arrangements) can be covered by special compensatory damages.
Essentially, any economic losses sustained after a car accident would fall under the category of special compensatory damages.
General compensatory damages are more intangible and are meant to cover losses of the non-economic variety. Pain and suffering, mental trauma, psychological anguish, and diminished quality of life are examples of the broad terms that can encompass general compensatory damages.
General compensatory damages can be more difficult to litigate when compared to special compensatory damages, as they are open to interpretation. This is one of the many reasons (we’ll discuss some additional below) why it’s important to secure representation by a qualified and experienced car accident attorney. Having an inexperienced or unskilled lawyer handle your car accident claim could mean a substantial reduction in the amount of general compensatory damages an injured victim receives. An experienced attorney will be able to convincingly demonstrate intangible losses, such as pain and suffering and emotional trauma.
In car accidents where a fatality occurs, wrongful death damages may be recovered. 3,582 fatal car accidents led to 3,904 Californians killed in 2017. In such cases, wrongful death damages may cover funeral and burial expenses, any medical care that was provided before the death, lost insurance or pension, loss of companionship, and more.
Certain dependents or individuals with a legal interest in the property of the decedent may be eligible to recover such wrongful death damages after a fatal car accident. Children of the decedent, a surviving spouse, grandchildren, or a domestic partner are some examples of potentially eligible dependents in a wrongful death claim.
The final category of car accident damages is punitive. Punitive damages are rare in car accident cases, but there are certain circumstances where they may apply. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of wanton disregard for human life or extreme cruelty. If a driver was repeatedly cited for driving under the influence (perhaps they were also involved in previous accidents) and later ended up causing a serious crash that led to catastrophic injuries or fatalities, it’s possible that punitive damages would be awarded. But it’s important to realize that these damages are rare and only found in extreme cases.
Punitive damages are not capped in the state of California, which gives judges and juries license to award whatever figure they deem appropriate in cases of recklessness or malice. Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) Car Accident Division attorneys always pursue punitive damages whenever the circumstances of the case permit.
Let’s review the four car accident damages categories:
1. Special (economic) damages:
2. General (non-economic) damages:
3. Wrongful death damages:
4. Punitive damages:
Monetary sum – only awarded in rare cases of wanton recklessness or harm
Total damages awards for car accidents can vary significantly depending on the severity of the injuries, the extent of fault on the part of the other driver, and the skill and experience of the victim’s personal injury attorney. While many settlements are agreed to confidentially, it’s difficult to determine an overall average for car accident claims. That said, results from internal reporting sources indicate an average of $24,000 for car accident claims.
However, it’s important to note that this is merely an estimate, and the final damages award for your car accident claim could be substantially greater (or lower) depending on the type of injuries that were sustained and the overall losses incurred (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.).
We’ve discussed this specific topic in previous blogs, but let’s review the basic steps for finding the best car accident lawyer available. Firstly, as a car accident victim you want to ensure that you choose an attorney with experience handling (and winning) your type of claim.
If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury in a rear-end collision, be sure to confirm that your attorney has successfully handled rear-end collisions involving whiplash. Ask for examples of previous cases and results before committing to anything. If the attorney hasn’t handled your type of case, find someone who has.
Additionally, it’s important to ensure that your case will be handled with the attention and dedication it deserves. Many “mega firms” will treat you and your car accident claim like numbers, often agreeing to accept a quick settlement offer from an insurance company without taking the time to properly negotiate a maximum damages award. These firms are likely focused on larger (or more important) cases, which can leave a car accident victim facing financial hardship if damages such as future medical care aren’t properly covered in a settlement.
Before selecting an attorney to handle your car accident case, be sure to do the proper research and ask the right questions. Don’t settle for a firm that will agree to anything less than a damages award that ensures you’re compensated for all immediate losses as well as any future medical care you may require.
DLG is the premier car accident firm in California because of our dedication to every client and our results. If you look at our recent case victories and review our client testimonials, you’ll find that we treat everyone with deserved care and compassion while obtaining maximum results every time. At DLG, you’re not just a number, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be properly compensated after a car accident.
We never settle for less than a maximum financial damages award because we prepare every case for trial. Our founder and president, Sam Dordulian, previously served as Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. As a prosecutor, Dordulian accrued over 100 jury trial victories. That’s the kind of experience you can’t find at just any personal injury firm.
And that experience means our clients recover the financial compensation they truly deserve after a car accident. Rather than settling for a lowball offer like mega firms, we fight for your right to recover all applicable damages. And with Dordulian’s courtroom experience, if we’re ever faced with an insurance company that won’t settle for a maximum damages award, we take the case to trial. Having that option can lead to a substantially higher settlement or verdict for your car accident claim.
Additionally, two of our Car Accident Division attorneys previously worked as defense counsel for major auto insurance corporations. While they used to fight for the insurance companies, now they fight for our clients, ensuring those same companies never take advantage of a car accident victim. Having that type of insider experience can be a major advantage for car accident clients. We know every tactic used by these massive corporations, and their high-powered attorneys realize that when they deal with DLG, we never settle for anything less than a maximum financial damages award.
Moreover, every DLG car accident claim is investigated by a retired LAPD detective. DLG’s Chief Investigator, Moses Castillo, uncovers every shred of critical evidence that can help prove your claim and increase your damages award. Evidence in a car accident case can be the difference between a $10,000 settlement and a $10 million settlement. That’s why Chief Investigator Castillo launches a thorough investigation every time we receive a car accident claim.
With a 98% success record and over $100 million recovered in settlements and verdicts for injured car accident victims, DLG is the best choice for a California car accident lawyer. Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 to learn more about how we can help you recover the maximum allowable damages award you deserve after an untimely car accident.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.