Over 6 million vehicular accidents happen in the United States every year, and even though most people suppress such bad thoughts and believe that such accidents can never happen to them, the truth of the matter is that accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Parties that are involved in car crashes neither expect it, nor are they prepared for the damages and injuries that they experience.
Car accidents can have disastrous effects on you. First of all, it’s most likely that you’ve experienced physical injuries, and more injuries and damages can stem from your physical injuries. Your car and other property can get damaged, and you can lose your earnings as well and suffer mentally and emotionally from effects of the car crash.
Legally, car accident damages are defined as a reward that is most of the time given in the form of monetary compensation. This compensation is used to make up for the lost wages among other losses that are sustained by the injured persons. After a car accident that was caused by a negligent driver and that results in hard injuries, you deserve to be compensated for such damages. There are several and different types of damages that are available to car accident victims in Los Angeles, and it’s important that you understand the exact damages that will be applicable in your case. In case you have sustained damages in a Los Angeles accident, then you should talk to an experienced attorney from Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Firm.
After a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The State of California has laws that distinguish between economic and non-economic damages. In some other cases, punitive damages can be awarded, but they aren’t common. Depending on your case, you can also be able to recover compensation from both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Recovery for Injuries and Accidents
In case you’ve suffered bodily harm after an accident or injury, you can be entitled to receive economic compensation from the negligent party. However, what you may recover will mostly depend on the types of damages that you experienced because of the injury or accident, or even both. In case your injuries affect the relationship with your family, the California law allows your family members to be compensated.
To get an idea on some of the types of damages that you can legally recover, below is a glossary that will define almost all types of legal compensations that you may be entitled to, and that will ensure that you’re compensated for all claims that you’re entitled to under the California Laws.
Legal Compensation Glossary
After a car crash or accident that leaves you disfigured or deformed. For instance, with scars or any other permanent effect on your personal appearance, you may be able to collect damages for the mental suffering that will always arise due to the awareness of your disfigurement. Sometimes these damages are also included in other types of damages like mental anguish.
House Hold Services
A car crash can result to you hiring somebody to do your household chores as you recuperate. However, this is only applicable in case you would not have needed such services if you had not been injured. Sometimes these damages are included in the medical expenses.
You can be compensated for medical bills and other expenses that you may incur for medical services such as hospital stays, doctors, emergency room treatment, nursing services, and ambulance fees. However, you have to provide enough proof that all the expenses indicated are related to the medical condition that has resulted from your injuries. In some situations, the medical expenses are used as an estimate to determine whether the total amount awarded is reasonable. Keep in mind that the cost of medical examinations that is meant to be used for litigation isn’t always recoverable as a form of medical expense.
Future Medical Expenses
You may only qualify for this type of compensation if you have enough proof that you’ll need continuous medical care due to the injury or accident. The proof you provide should be sufficient enough to enable the jury to come up with an estimated amount that will sustain you. This is often done through a medical opinion of a qualified doctor.
Loss of Consortium
If you are an uninjured spouse and you have been deprived of the benefits of leading a married life after an injury or accident, including solace, affection, companionship, help and assistance, society, and comfort among several other things, you can make a claim. In some situations, the injured spouse can also make a claim. The amount awarded is often based on the loss by considering your life expectancies, how much companionship and care have been bestowed upon you, whether your marriage was stable enough, and the benefits of your married life that have been deprived.
Lost Earning Capability
After an accident that results in severe injuries, you may be able to recover such damages if you have enough proof that your ability to earn an income in the future has been diminished or impaired by your injuries. Some of the factors that can help in determining if an award is necessary include your life expectancy, age, occupation, health, skill, talent, training, and experience. Past earnings can sometimes be used as a factor to determine an appropriate amount to compensate you for your lost earning capability. However, the claim often focuses on what you might have earned if the injury or accident had not happened.
In most cases after a car crash, injuries may lead to the loss of earning capability. This can also include the inability to perform your daily activities due to time spent in hospital, physical therapy sessions, mobility problems, and many other factors that may hinder you from receiving your usual wages. These damages are calculated from the time you sustained the injuries to the judgment or settlement date. If you are unemployed, you can be permitted to recover your lost wages if you can prove to the jury that you would have been earning during that period.
Pain and Suffering
According to the California personal injury law, pain and suffering are a physical or mental distress for which you can seek damages in a lawsuit. These damages are often based on the seriousness of the pain, type of injury, and prognosis for any future pain that you may experience and that is associated with the injury. Pain and suffering can sometimes include emotional and/or mental damages that stem from the incident, for instance, stress or anxiety.
In case you become disabled after an accident, then you can claim permanent disability damages. Your experienced Los Angeles attorney will help you get compensated by calling a doctor to provide a medical testimony on your behalf. Your doctor will first examine you to ensure that he or she gets all the medical details that can help you win your case. Some Los Angeles courts hold that permanent disability damages can include those that may have been objectively determined, and also those that are subjectively perceived. Ensure that you talk to a professional attorney from Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney to determine your legal options.
Loss of Companionship
In a case of wrongful death, you can be awarded loss of companionship damages due to the positive benefits that flow from the comfort, love, closeness, and companionship that you would have enjoyed had your loved one lived. The jury will consider evidence that there was a harmonious relationship between you and the deceased, your common activities and interests, your living arrangements, and whether at any one point you were separated.
In case you or someone close to you has been involved in a Los Angeles auto accident, the prudent move that you should make would be to contact a qualified attorney. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we are available to help you by giving you a free case evaluation free from any obligation or pressure. When you choose to retain our services, know that our experienced, aggressive and ethical attorneys will work on a contingency mode of payment. This means that you won’t have to worry about upfront legal or retainer fees, and you only pay after the settlement.
Punitive Damages in Your Car Crash Case
Damages in personal injury cases are often meant to make the victim “whole.” This means that damages are meant to help the injured persons to get back to their previous condition before the accident. This type of damage includes compensation for both past and future medical bills and expenses, lost income, property damages, and non-economic damages, for instance, anxiety, pain and suffering, and humiliation just to spell a few. However, in some other cases, you can recover punitive damages.
When can you Recover Punitive Damages?
The main purpose of punitive damages is to ensure that the negligent party is punished. The California Civil Code in section 3294 explains all the requirements to claim for punitive damages. Part (a) of the Civil Code establishes that where it’s clearly proven through clear evidence that the negligent party is guilty of fraud, oppression, or malice, you can recover damages as a way to punish the defendant. Because the code continues to define oppression, malice, and fraud, you will be required to establish that there was fraud, malice, or oppression and provide clear evidence. However, the code doesn’t define “clear evidence” meaning that you’ll need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner to help you throughout the process.
Claiming Punitive Damages in a Drunk Driving Car Crash Case
There is no exception to claiming punitive damages in a case when you are injured in a car crash caused by an intoxicated driver. The seminal case that dealt with such damages that involved an intoxicated driver that injured another party is the Taylor vs. Superior Court of Los Angeles. This case was heard in the year 1979 when the victim suffered hard injuries after being struck by a car that was being operated by an intoxicated driver. From that point, the Los Angeles courts holds that any person “who takes alcoholic drinks to the degree of intoxication, while knowing that they will thereafter operate or use a motor vehicle demonstrates deliberate and conscious disregard on the interests of other people's well-being. Therefore, their misconduct can be called wanton or willful, and punitive damages can be recovered in a personal injury case that is filed against the intoxicated driver.”
The set requirements to prove malice in a car crash to claim punitive damages in a car accident case are memorized in BAJI 14.75, in the 2009 California Civil Jury Instructions. To prove that there was malicious intent, you have to prove the following:
- The defendant voluntarily got himself drunk
- He was aware that he would operate a motor vehicle
- Continued to operate the car while intoxicated
- He was aware of the probable outcomes of his actions
- He willfully failed to avoid the consequences
Punitive damages will allow you to recover damages and also punish the negligent driver for drinking and driving. This will also significantly increase the case value, deter the driver from ever driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and also benefit the society indirectly by minimizing the number of intoxicated drivers on the roads.
When you are involved in an auto accident that is caused by an intoxicated driver, don’t hesitate to call us at 424-231-2013 to talk to an attorney or schedule a free case evaluation. Our professionals will first acquire a copy of the police report to determine whether the driver was under the influence. In case our attorneys determine that the driver was intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, we will proceed to file for damages including punitive damages. Keep in mind that whether or not you want to pursue punitive damages, it’s all a matter of choice and having a legal strategy.