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Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory,” meaning that they are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for what was lost due to the accident or injury. Compensatory damages are meant to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again from a monetary standpoint (to the extent that this is possible). This means that it necessary to assign a dollar figure to all of the consequences caused by an accident. Some compensatory damages are relatively easy to quantify — reimbursement for property damage and medical bills are straightforward examples. However, it is more difficult harder to assign a monetary value to pain and suffering or the inability to enjoy hobbies because of physical limitations caused by lingering accident-related injuries.
Here is a brief overview of the different compensatory damages that are commonly awarded in many personal injury cases:
- Medical treatment: A personal injury damages award almost always includes the cost of medical care associated with the accident — reimbursement for the treatment you’ve already received and compensation for the estimated cost of medical care you’ll need in the future because of the accident. If you have been injured in an accident, then you should see a doctor immediately and ask for your records.
- Income: You may be entitled to compensation for the accident’s impact on your salary and wages — not just the income you’ve already lost, but also the money you would have been able to make in the future were it not for the accident. Document any wage losses you incur due to the accident and immediately bring them to your personal injury lawyer’s attention.
- Property loss: If any vehicles, clothing, or other items were damaged as a result of the accident, then you will likely be entitled to reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of the property that was lost. Many of our clients are unsure of how to determine the value of certain items, but rest assured that we will help you through every step of the process.
- Pain and suffering: You may be entitled to compensation for pain and serious discomfort you suffered during the accident and in its immediate aftermath. You may also be entitled to compensation for any ongoing pain that can be attributed to the accident. Thoroughly document your symptoms as soon as you experience them, as this will make it easier for your personal injury lawyer to attribute your symptoms to the accident.
- Emotional distress: Usually linked to more serious accidents, emotional distress damages are meant to compensate a personal injury plaintiff for the psychological impact of an injury, including fear, anxiety, sleep loss, and other psychological issues. Some states consider emotional distress as part of any “pain and suffering” damage that is awarded to a personal injury plaintiff. Speak with your personal injury lawyer if your mental well-being was affected by your accident.
- Loss of enjoyment: When injuries caused by an accident keep you from enjoying day-to-day pursuits like hobbies, exercise, and other recreational activities, you may be entitled to receive “loss of enjoyment” damages. We will help you determine if you should pursue loss of enjoyment damages in your case.
- Loss of consortium: In personal injury cases, “loss of consortium” damages typically relate to the impact the injuries have on the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse — the loss of companionship or the inability to maintain a sexual relationship, for example. Some states also consider the separate impact on the relationship between a parent and their child when one of them is injured. In some cases, loss of consortium damages are awarded directly to the affected family member rather than to the injured plaintiff.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Punitive damages are often awarded when the defendant’s actions are deemed particularly harmful or egregiously careless. It is important to note that punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are awarded to the injured plaintiff, but the real goal of these kinds of damages is to punish the defendant for its conduct — to “hit them in the pocketbook,” so to speak — and to act as a deterrent. Since it is not unusual for punitive damage awards to top tens of millions of dollars, most states have set some type of cap on punitive damage awards in personal injury cases.
How a Plaintiff’s Actions (or Inaction) Can Affect a Damages Award
In some cases, an injured person’s role in causing an accident — or their inaction after being injured — can diminish a number of damages available in a personal injury case.
- Comparative negligence: If you are at fault (even partially) for the accident that caused your injuries, then it is likely that this will be taken into consideration by the court. Most states adhere to a “comparative negligence” standard that links damages to the degree of fault in a personal injury case.
- Contributory negligence: In the small handful of states that follow the concept of “contributory negligence” for personal injury lawsuits, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all if you are deemed partially to blame for the accident.
- Failure to mitigate damages after the accident: The law in most states expects plaintiffs in personal injury cases to take reasonable steps to minimize the financial impact of the harm caused by the accident. If an injured plaintiff just sits back and rests on their proverbial laurels when it isn’t reasonable to do so (by failing to get necessary medical treatment after an accident, and making their injuries much worse, for example), then a damage award might be significantly reduced.
Why Choose Los Angeles City Law?
The personal injury lawyers at Los Angeles City Law provide highly competent and aggressive legal representation that aims to achieve the best possible results for our clients. We are proud to be a client-focused firm that embraces the highest ethical standards. Below, you can read about two of the many reasons why you should choose our law firm over the others in the area:
Choosing an experienced lawyer is essential. You cannot take the risk of a newly credentialed lawyer overlooking an important detail or becoming flustered when the courtroom becomes tense. At Los Angeles City Law, we employ personal injury lawyers who have taken on hundreds of cases just like yours and who can provide you with the representation you deserve.
Many personal injury law firms in Los Angeles will treat you as a case number, but we do things differently. At Los Angeles City Law, we work with our clients at a personal level and do everything in our power to make difficult times more bearable. We also take pride in our exceptional communication skills. Instead of speaking with a legal assistant or the front desk, you will be able to contact your lawyer whenever you have questions or new information pertaining to your case.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Now
If you, a friend, or a family member has been injured in an accident, then please contact Los Angeles City Law as soon as possible. We can answer any questions you may have and provide you with a free, no-obligation case evaluation. If traveling to our office is a challenge, then we can make arrangements to come to you. Please fill out the form below or call our office to get started.