This article is by Joel Farar – a premier Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer. When a person is injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, they are entitled to compensation known as damages. Damages are awarded after a personal injury lawsuit. The amount of damages a person can collect is affected by a wide variety of factors depending on the type of lawsuit and the amount of injury or loss the person has suffered. Understanding the types of damages and how they are awarded may give you a better understanding of what you can collect.
The most basic form of damages are economic damages. These damages represent the clear and calculable costs of the accident and injury. Medical expenses are one of the most frequent forms of economic damages. They can also include damage to personal property and lost income or wages due to being unable to work for a period of time.
There is no limit to the amount of economic damages a person may receive. They are generally entitled to the recovery of any amount of money they can prove either through medical records, bills, notes from their employer or other evidence. Evidence of loss and the expenses related to the injury become very important in determining economic damages.
Another example of an economic damage is damage to your car. If your car is dented, then the repair costs, and other incidental costs are covered by your final verdict/settlement. In the event the car is completely destroyed, and you need a new car lease, or buy a new car – then that too is covered relative to it’s value at the time of the accident – by the new verdict and settlement. Car leasing platforms like Zooomr have been known to offer clients free cars, in exchange for waiting for the final verdict/settlement before collecting funds for the cars.
A person may also be able to recover damages for things that cannot be directly priced or calculated. This includes money for things like pain and suffering or permanent disfigurement. It is impossible to put a direct price on such things. If the matter is taken to court, then a jury usually decides the amount of non-economic damages according to their own judgment. This amount could be amended by the judge.
Winning non-economic damages is mostly about showing the jury the emotional costs of the accident and how it affected one’s personal life or family. In most cases, there is no limit to the amount of non-economic damages that can be collected. The one exception is in medical malpractice cases. A cap of $250,000 of non-economic damages is the maximum award in California.
In certain cases, a person may also be awarded punitive damages. This award is usually given when a lawsuit targets a large company or other public or business entity. It is a rare reward designed to serve as a reminder to these large and usually wealthy organizations that negligence should be avoided and comes with an even greater cost.
Most lawsuits do not argue directly for punitive damages. The court will decide if punitive damages should be award based on the factors of the case. These include the level of negligence involved and the duty of care the offending organization or company owed to the plaintiff.
Settlement or Court
The final major determining factor in a damages award is whether or not a case is settled out of court. The vast majority of personal injury cases do not go to court. This is because the parties agree to a reasonable award and prefer to pay it quickly rather than suffer the additional time and cost associated with a full trial.
Many companies will offer a settlement very soon after an accident. This amount is usually for far less than a person would be entitled to. It is always a good idea never to accept the initial settlement offer given after a lawsuit is filed. An attorney can better judge a fair offer and decide if a case is worth pursuing in court. Usually, taking a case to court will result in a higher award, but it is sometimes not worth the additional cost and effort, and there is always the chance for a lower award.
Keep in mind that an attorney with experience in handling personal injury cases will be better able to judge a fair offer. The attorney may also be able to give a client direct advice and an estimate of what they will be entitled to receive if a lawsuit is pursued.