Personal injury cases are handled in the civil court system as opposed to the criminal courts. There are numerous differences between civil cases and criminal cases including the type of consequences. In civil cases the person who is liable, or responsible, for the wrongdoing is responsible for paying money to the victim. The legal terminology for the money paid out in a civil case is called damages and there are specific guidelines for what damages can be awarded in a case.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the injured party for their losses. They fall into two categories of economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages can easily be calculated because there is a bill or cost associated with them. Examples of economic damages include:
Non-economic damages are not easily quantifiable because they do not have a bill or receipt associated with them. However, there is a wealth of legal precedent to help determine what they are worth in a case and a skilled attorney will be able to determine the worth of your case with regards to non-economic damages. Examples include:
Punitive damages are much more rare in personal injury cases that compensatory damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for their actions and to deter them from engaging in similar conduct again. Punitive damages in California must prove malice, oppression, or harm towards the person who was injured, which requires a high burden of proof.
Every case is unique, both in the extent of the damages and the insurance that is available to collect from. According to the Center for Justice and Democracy, California does not have any caps on general personal injury cases or product liability cases. There is a cap of $250,000 on “pain and suffering” for medical malpractice cases, which was created with California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act in 1975. Law.com recently reported that there are efforts to put an initiative on the 2022 ballots so that citizens could vote to raise the cap to $1.2 million, which would help account for inflation.
When first injured, it is common for personal injury victims to underestimate what their case is worth. They may look at their medical expenses and simply want to be compensated for the ambulance bill that health insurance wouldn’t cover and the astronomical hospital bill that awaits. However, an experienced San Jose personal injury attorney can look at your case and help you determine what other economic and non-economic damages you have sustained and whether or not you can go after punitive damages. Contact the Solution Now Law Firm at 408-809-9746 to schedule a free consultation today.
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