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A personal injury case is a civil action you can bring against someone for allegedly causing your accident and injury. It seeks to claim financial compensation from the defendant for his or her negligence. A successful personal injury case in California could reimburse you for several different types of damages. Damages describe both the losses you suffered because of a defendant’s negligence as well as the financial compensation you could receive to make up for your losses. Understanding the types of damages that may be available to you could help you accurately estimate the value of your case.
Compensatory damages describe the losses you incurred because of somebody else’s negligence. When a jury awards compensatory damages, it does so to make a victim whole again. The goal of this type of damage award is to restore the victim to the state he or she was in before the accident. If you qualify for compensatory damages in California, a jury could order a defendant to pay for both past and future losses associated with your accident. It will be up to you or your personal injury attorney to prove these losses through a preponderance of the evidence (enough evidence to prove them more likely to be true than untrue). Your compensatory losses will fall into two categories: special and general.
The other word for special damages is economic damages. Special damages describe the financial losses you have due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness or intent to harm. Special damages are relatively easy to calculate, as you or your attorney will use evidence such as receipts, medical bills, repair estimates and pay stubs to accurately gauge how much money you lost because of the accident. A special damage award could reimburse you for many economic losses.
The other type of compensatory award is general damages. General damages are losses the average person would experience in the accident in question. They are intangible, non-economic losses. Examples of general damages during a personal injury case in California are physical pain, suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, emotional distress, mental anguish, psychological trauma, lost quality of life and loss of consortium. General damages are harder to determine than special damages. It is up to a jury to decide how much a victim deserves in general damages based on the specifics of the case.
The majority of personal injury cases in California end with compensatory damages. Some, however, may also recover punitive damages. Punitive damages describe an additional type of award a judge has the discretion to give in California. A judge may grant punitive damages if a defendant is guilty of malice, fraud, oppression or another wrongful act. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant rather than reimburse the victim.
The value of your personal injury case in California will depend on the amount and extent of your damages. It will be up to you or your Orange County personal injury lawyer to calculate an appropriate damage award based on your past losses as well as foreseeable future losses. Working with an attorney can help you accurately calculate how much your case is worth.
With this information, your lawyer can negotiate with an insurance company for a fair and full benefits award. If the insurance company refers to offer what your attorney is asking, your attorney can take your case to trial in California instead. A trial may result in greater compensation than an insurance settlement, depending on your case. Contact an attorney in Southern California today to ask about the value of your case.