A car accident lawyer in California ought to have one primary goal when representing victims who have been injured in an accident. Namely, the attorney should prioritize using all available laws and available means to help accident victims receive the compensation they need.
This goal also matches the needs of accident victims who depend on money damages to repair and rebuild their lives once medical treatment is needed and wages have been lost. If you have suffered injuries in a California accident, here are the facts to know regarding the types of damages a victim may be legally entitled to receive in California.
Types of Damages in California
From a legal perspective, the term “damages” simply refers to compensation, and damages are broadly divided into “punitive” and “compensatory” damages. Punitive damages are generally taken to mean compensation that punishes a party who was legally responsible for an accident in a negligent manner. Compensatory damages broadly refer to compensation designed to compensate the accident victim for their injuries.
Can You Get Punitive Damages If the Driver in an Accident Was Negligent?
It is possible, albeit difficult, to pursue compensation based on a desire to punish a defendant in California personal injury lawsuits. Even if an accident victim has a strong case and ultimately receives compensation, this is no guarantee that the legally responsible party will be liable for punitive damages. Far from it, in fact.
California law requires civil juries to be instructed that punitive damages should be awarded only if the defendant behaved in a way that demonstrates “malice, oppression or fraud” (California Civil Code §3294). In a typical negligence car accident, a defendant’s behavior will likely not rise to this standard.
As such, California accident victims will typically receive compensation designed to compensate accident victims, not punish responsible parties.
Types of Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages in California are divided into the categories of “economic damages” and “non-economic” damages. Economic damages compensate accident victims for harms related to issues with tangible dollar values attached, such as:
- Lost Wages
- Medical Expenses
- Property Damage
- Burial Expenses in a Wrongful Death Case
This form of compensation considers existing economic harms as well as future harms that may be suffered by an accident victim.
Non-economic compensation looks to real harms suffered by a victim, albeit harms that do not have an ascertainable dollar value in any meaningful sense. The pain and suffering, anxiety or depression of a victim after an accident are all examples of the types of non-financial losses covered by this form of compensation. California law allows plaintiffs to pursue both economic and non-economic compensation for an accident.
Talk to Auto Accident Attorneys in California Who Fight to Maximize Your Compensation
The Ledger Law Firm’s team of auto accident attorneys will help maximize your right to compensation by reviewing the facts of your case and using existing California law to argue for your legal right to receive all forms of compensation that are relevant to your claim.
We review all facts of the case before building a strong case that will help you receive a fair settlement offer or prevail at trial. Contact us online today for a legal consultation to take the first step toward receiving the compensation you need after a California accident.