If you were hurt in an accident, one of the most pressing questions you may have is “what is the value of my personal injury lawsuit?” While there is no easy answer to this question, there are some general guidelines to consider when attempting to calculate your damages.
Every case is different and there are many factors which may increase or decrease the amount of compensation you may be eligible to recover. A qualified personal injury attorney can help you answer your questions by taking the time to investigate your case and explore all legal avenues.
Car accident settlements and verdicts
In general, awards from trial verdicts are higher than settlements agreed to prior to trial. This is typically because neither side wishes to engage in lengthy litigation and risk losing their case at trial. Although your case may be worth more if you win a favorable outcome at trial, the settlement you reach with the other party is guaranteed.
Compensation for economic damages and pain and suffering
Economic damages are things list hospital bills, medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. These types of damages are easier to put a dollar amount on since hospital bills and medical expenses come with receipts, time missed from work is documented, and any damaged property can be appraised.
Calculating future lost income can be slightly more difficult to ascertain. Some courts will rely upon economic experts to determine the value of future lost wages, taking into account taxes, inflation, and living expenses.
Damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and the inability to partake in once daily activities are more subjective and difficult to calculate. Courts will often use their best judgement when determining the value of non-economic damages since there are no clear guidelines how to calculate awards.
Punitive damages are sometimes handed out to punish wrongdoers and discourage similar behavior. Most courts typically have a high standard for conduct warranting punitive damages, often require it to rise to the level of “willful and wanton.”
California law generally holds a defendant’s conduct must be malicious and intentional to warrant punitive damages. However, California does have “reckless misconduct” provisions in its tort laws allowing injury victims to receive punitive damages for negligence or non-intentional misconduct.
Limitations on personal injury awards
Like each state, California has its own unique set of laws governing personal injury lawsuits and awards. While state law does not place limits on compensatory damages for economic damages and pain and suffering, there are situations where your award or settlement could be reduced.
California has comparative negligence laws that can reduce the compensation you may receive if your own negligence played a part in your injury. Whatever percentage you are deemed at fault will be deducted from your award at trial. Insurance companies and defense attorneys may offer lower than expected settlements if they believe your actions contributed to your injury.
If you were hurt by someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, the law gives you remedy to recover compensation for your damages. Experienced and dedicated personal injury attorneys can help you in your pursuit of justice and the compensation you deserve.