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Compensatory Damages In California Personal Injury Cases

March 31, 2021 Personal Injury Blog

There are many kinds of damages or compensation you may be entitled to following a personal injury accident. One of the most common types is compensatory damages. They are awarded to compensate a plaintiff (victim) for actual expenses and losses caused by an accident. Compensatory damages can be broken into two categories. 

Economic (Actual) Damages 

Economic damages are for an amount that is necessary to replace the losses you suffered, no greater. These are losses where you must prove how much money you’ve lost. Some examples include:

  • Medical bills: emergency visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, outpatient procedures, prescription medications, etc.
  • In-home medical care
  • Nursing home or rehabilitation costs
  • Medical treatment
  • Property repair
  • Property replacement
  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Diminished earning capacity

Non-Economic (General) Damages

Non-economic damages do not reflect a specific dollar amount and are more complicated to prove since they are subjective losses. For instance:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 
  • Loss of opportunity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical impairment (e.g., disability, loss of a limb)
  • Disfigurement 
  • Unjust hardship

If you suffered an injury, property damage, psychological harm, or any other loss because of another individual’s negligent acts, you might receive an award for the above compensatory damages as reimbursement. 

Does California Put a Cap on Compensatory Damages? 

While there is generally no cap on compensatory damages in California, some exceptions do exist. For example, in medical malpractice cases, there is a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages. To fully understand your rights and the types of damages you are entitled to, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in San Diego.

Punitive (Exemplary) Damages

Another type of damages that are rarely awarded is punitive damages. These damages are only recovered in cases involving an at-fault party who acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. Although they compensate the injured party, they are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar harmful actions in the future. 

Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer

It may seem simple to make a case for the amount of compensation the at-fault party owes you, but recovering compensatory damages involves gathering a lot of evidence. Not only will you need to show proof that you suffered the losses, but you’ll need to demonstrate negligence on behalf of the responsible party.

Proving you have been harmed in some way is not necessarily the same as proving how much compensation you deserve. It is your responsibility to prove to the judge that the amount you ask for is justified. It is up to the judge to decide damages, but be prepared to make an argument for the amount that you think is fair.

Contact Us for Questions About the Value of Your Case

If you have questions about the potential value of your personal injury case, contact CaseyGerry. We will provide a free initial consultation and explain the types and amount of damages you may be able to recover. Call (619) 238-1811 or fill out our contact form online