An Introduction to Damages in California Personal Injury Matters

Personal Injury Attorney
Personal Injury Cases

A person can be injured physically and mentally in many ways. In California, there are a lot of personal injury cases reported every year. It includes slip and fall cases, dog bite cases, truck accident cases, car accident cases, and many others. In all of these, the victims who suffer injuries are worthy of receiving monetary compensation for the injuries that resulted from the accident. The emotional trauma and pain that the victim suffers cannot be compensated in any way. Awarding damages is the best way to compensate the victim at least to some extent.

Personal injury claims are of different kinds and are hence, broadly categorized into three groups. They are the intention-based claims, negligence-based claims, and the strict liability claims.

Intention-Based Claims

In a personal injury case, if the liable party has caused the injury intentionally, it will come under this category. Sometimes the direct willfulness of the at-fault party will not be necessary, to prove the cases in which the victim has suffered very terrible injuries. It can also be that the willful ignorance or negligence of the defendant led to the accident and the injuries.

Negligence-Based Claims

Most of the personal injury claims fall under this category. In this type of claim, the at-fault party should have breached the duty and responsibility of care that they were indebted to give. In such cases, it must be proved that it was this breach in fulfilling the responsibility, which caused the accident. The intention or willfulness of the party will not be considered in this type of claim.

Strict Liability Claims

In this type of claim, the only thing the victim needs to prove is that the other party is responsible for the accident. Whether or not the accident was caused by intention or it happened by his negligence, is not a serious matter of consideration. It usually involves product liability cases and animal bite cases. It is very unnatural for the liable party to escape the law and payment of compensation, under the strict liability law.

The damages associated with a personal injury claim can be divided into three categories. They are the special (economic) damages, general (noneconomic) damages and the punitive damages.

Special Damages (Economic)

All the monetary expenses that the victim of the accident bears related to the accident comes under the special damages. These can be easily calculated. The special damages are very much objective in nature. The list of monetary expenses can be very exhaustive. It includes the loss of wages, loss of job opportunities and capacity to earn in the future, the medical expenses in the present and the future, property loss, repairing cost of the damaged property, etc. These damages must be carefully noted, after the accident, to earn the maximum compensation for the same.

General Damages (Noneconomic)

These damages are very subjective and speculative. There are no common standards for measuring these damages. This will include the physical pain and the mental trauma that the victim suffered due to the accident. They cannot be measured that easily and may vary depending on individual cases. It will be in the best interest of the victim to seek the help of a personal injury attorney who can help him calculate the full extent of the general damages. However, the list may not be exhaustive as that of the economic damages.

The general damages may include the general issues related to the quality of life, physical pain, emotional stress, loss of companionship, etc. There is scope for general damages in all personal injury claims but the limit of the damages will vary depending on the kind of case.

Punitive Damages

The punitive damages, unlike the other two kinds of damages, are not for compensating the injured victim. Rather, it is for punishing the party at-fault, to create a general understanding of the outcome and responsibility of the accident. The court will decide the punitive damages in a personal injury case, after viewing the extent of the special and general damages. The ultimate purpose of punitive damage is to discourage the wrong actions and behaviors in society. The punitive damages are very unusual in personal injury claims. An accident caused by drunken driving can be the best example of a personal injury claim in which the punitive damages will be calculated.

Limitations on the Damage

The award of the total damages in a personal injury claim will be largely dependent on the particular claim that is under consideration. The calculation of the general and special damages will vary in different personal injury cases, depending on the seriousness of injuries and loss caused by the accident.

If you have been injured in any kind of accident that happened in California, it is good for you to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you in making a successful personal injury claim. He can make sure that you get the right compensation for the injuries you suffered.

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