When you’ve been wrongfully injured in California, the first and most important focus is your health. Once that’s squared away and you’re physically taken care of, the next thing you’ll likely want to know is how to receive compensation for the financial (and non-financial) damages you’ve suffered. In this guide, we’ll break down the different types of compensation you can potentially receive from the entity who injured you (i.e. personal injury Defendant).
Under California law, there are a few different types of personal injury claims you can file, representing the wide array of injury situations that can occur. After conferring with your personal injury lawyer in Glendale, CA, you may decide to file for multiple types of damages.
You can file for special damages for any economic hardship you have endured as a direct result of your accident. The goal of special compensatory damages is to compensate the injured party for any money lost because he or she was too injured to work or otherwise promote his or her economic well-being.
For instance, special compensatory damages cover the cost of medical bills related to the accident, and they can also cover the expected cost of future medical care. Furthermore, these damages cover lost earnings or earnings that the injured party expects to lose because of his or her injury.
Special damages can even cover household costs like rent, mortgage, landscaping, and utilities. If the injured party had any short-term or long-term travel or relocation plans that he or she had to change because of the injury, special damages can also cover these types of financial losses.
General damages are any types of compensatory damages that don’t fall under the heading of special damages. These types of damages are for non-economic types of hardship; if your injury caused you to lose your romantic partner, for instance, a skilled attorney may be able to secure monetary compensation for this abstract type of damage. Every accident victim is expected to file for some sort of general compensatory damages, but you may not be able to get all the types of general damages you seek without the right lawyer.
One common type of general compensatory damage is for “pain and suffering,” which is a broad term that can refer to any type of misfortune or decreased quality of life that the victim of an accident experiences as a direct result of the accident. Pain and suffering damages are sometimes hard to litigate since they are so abstract, but with a qualified personal injury lawyer by your side, you’ll receive the general compensation you need to get your life back on track.
You can also receive general damages for “mental anguish,” which is an even more abstract type of damage. When an injury robs you of the person you love, the job you depend on, or the home you find comfort in, it’s natural to experience psychological issues. The changes that an injury forcefully imposes on your life can cause depression or outright despair, and general compensatory damages for mental anguish seek to recoup these psychological losses.
Special rules apply under the circumstances of wrongful death claims. These types of damages seek to compensate the bereaved for the loss of a person who was important to them, and they generally cover costs directly associated with the victim’s wrongful death.
These types of damages can include funeral expenses, and they can also cover medical expenses incurred before death. You can sue for wrongful death damages for the emotional or financial hardships that you’ve experienced since the victim’s death, and you can also sue for more abstract damages if you were the victim’s romantic partner.
In the pursuit of making a bereaved family whole after the loss of a beloved family member, your lawyer may be able to secure damages for loss of services or support. Just remember that you’ll need a highly qualified lawyer to get the types of damages you deserve.
These types of damages are rare, and they’re in a completely different class than normal compensatory damages. If a California court finds that the defendant’s behavior was particularly despicable or reprehensible, you might be awarded punitive damages in addition to special or general damages.
Punitive damages are usually only leveled at large companies or international corporations that can afford to fork over increased sums in contrition for their reckless actions. To apply punitive damages, a court usually prefers to establish that the defendant acted in a knowingly reckless way that clearly had the potential to harm someone.
If you’ve been harmed by a major corporation, you may receive compensation immediately. Average people, however, can’t usually pay the immense costs of compensatory damages all at once; other techniques, such as liens on property and wage garnishing, may be necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.
NOTE: To learn more about the different types of injuries you can sue for in California, check out our Types of Personal Injury Cases article.
In California, personal injury damages law isn’t that different from elsewhere in the country. However, your California personal injury compensation lawyer might refer to special compensatory damages as “economic damages” and general compensatory damages as “non-economic damages.” Here are some of the other aspects of compensatory damages that are specific to California:
California has special “shared fault laws.” If a California court determines that you were at least partially responsible for your injury, you might be found to have “comparative fault” for the incident.
A finding of comparative fault reduces the amount of damages you’ll be able to seek in your case. If you aren’t careful, a skilled personal injury defense lawyer could even turn things around on you and contend that you’re entirely to blame for your injury.
If you were involved in a car accident but you were uninsured at the time, the state of California won’t let you sue for non-economic damages even if the other party was entirely to blame. However, if the other party was driving under the influence of alcohol and is convicted of DUI, then you can sue for non-economic damages whether you’re insured or not.
California Civil Code 3333.2 specifies that physicians can only be sued for $250,000 or less in California. This piece of legislation passed in 1975, and there is no indication that the cap will be increased any time soon.
California Civil Code 3342 specifies that the owner is strictly liable in all dog bite cases. Whether or not the owner knew that his or her dog was a menace, you should be able to receive compensation easily.
With the right mindset, it’s possible to see a path to financial restitution after even the most crippling injury. At the very least, you can sue for damages that will cover the direct economic cost of your injury; and under certain circumstances, you could even sue for more abstract decreases in quality of life or see the responsible party punished for his or her reckless behavior or negligence.
To see the types of results you deserve, however, you’ll need to work with a qualified personal injury lawyer. Here at Dordulian Law Group, we’re intimately familiar with the intricacies of California personal injury law, and we are deeply dedicated to the long-term well-being of our clients. To learn more about our services and receive a free, straightforward consultation about your case’s chances, get in touch with us at 800-880-7777 today!
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and workers compensation concerns.