An Introduction to Damages in California Personal Injury Matters
June 22, 2019
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.