Almost five years have passed since Robert Chelsea’s life was dramatically changed by the negligence of another driver. In August 2013, Chelsea was driving from his church to his Los Angeles home when his engine overheated and forced him to pull over on the highway. He waited on the shoulder of the 605 Freeway for roadside assistance when a drunk driver’s vehicle slammed into his, causing an explosion and trapping Chelsea inside his vehicle. Chelsea was in a coma for six months, and he spent more than a year and a half in the hospital. He sustained burns on more than 50 percent of his body, and his face was disfigured beyond recognition from the force of the collision.

Modern medical technology has made it possible for Chelsea to regain some semblance of his former life. He recently raised more than $65,000 on a popular crowdfunding website to pay for a facial transplant, and the procedure will make him the first African American in the United States to receive the surgery. At 67 years old, he will also be the oldest patient in the world to undergo the surgery.

Chelsea’s story is absolutely inspiring, but he did not pursue legal action against the driver that left him disfigured and forced him to spend more than 18 months in the hospital. It is likely that he could have won a case if he had chosen to hire a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Many elements of this case can help us to understand the concept of compensatory damages, and how Chelsea could have pursued legal action against the drunk driver who hit him.

To put the point as simply as possible, compensatory damages are the answer to the question, “How much money is a given case worth?” While some things that Chelsea lost — like the ability to kiss his daughter due to losing his lips — are difficult to put a price on, compensatory damages are an attempt to put a monetary value on the consequences of an event. Compensatory damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Time off of work: Chelsea was in the hospital for more than a year and a half, preventing him from working and supporting his family. A personal injury lawyer could have helped him pursue compensation for the accident’s effect on his savings and income.
  • Medical bills: Medical care is not cheap. Personal injury damages almost always include reimbursement for medical care necessitated by the event.
  • Loss of consortium: Personal injuries often have a negative effect on relationships. Chelsea’s loss of companionship with his daughter and the inability to maintain sexual relationships could have been pursued as damages.
  • Pain, suffering, and permanency: Chelsea’s suffering is beyond imagination, and a personal injury lawyer could have helped him seek damages for the pain and suffering he experienced during and after his accident. Moreover, the scarring and lasting damage to his body could have been pursued as damages.

You will almost surely see more of Chelsea on the news and in local papers, and Los Angeles City Law wishes him the absolute best in his recovery.

If you have been injured as the result of another person’s negligence, then you should contact the personal injury lawyers at Los Angeles City Law. Our aggressive and competent legal representation can help you seek the justice you deserve, and we do not recover any fees until your case has been won. Call today for a free case evaluation.