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7 Types of Compensatory Damages in California Personal Injury Cases


California Personal Injury damages include both general and economic damages.

1.Medical Expenses: Plaintiffs in California are entitled to recover the reasonable value of all medical expenses that have been incurred, and that are reasonably certain to be incurred in the future, as a result of the injury.

2. Loss of Earnings: Plaintiffs in California are also entitled to recover the reasonable value of working time lost on account of the injury. Thus, wages, commissions, bonuses and all other earnings and fringe benefits that claimant has lost, or probably will lose, are compensable damages elements.

4. Pain and Suffering: Ordinarily, the most “valuable” element of a bodily injury claim is the right to compensation for all “pain and suffering” plaintiff has sustained, and will endure, as a proximate result of the injury. These are plaintiff's “general damages,” and may run far in excess of the “special damages” (e.g., earnings loss and medical expenses).

“Pain and suffering” is a unitary concept, encompassing all the physical discomfort and emotional trauma occasioned by an injury. Plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages for all physical pain suffered … and also for all resulting “fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, shock, humiliation, indignity, embarrassment, apprehension, terror or ordeal.”

5. Other “Noneconomic” (“General”) Damages: Substantial or catastrophic injury cases often involve “intangible damages” other than ordinary pain and suffering, such as disfigurement, disability, impaired enjoyment of life, susceptibility to future harm or injury, and shortened life expectancy.

6. Compensation for Mental Distress: Emotional trauma where the plaintiff's primary injury is emotional distress can be compensated if there is no concurrent physical injury. The distress may have physical consequences, but the cause of action is not predicated on “physical injury” per se.

7. Damage to Personal Property: Plaintiff may recover compensatory damages for personal property loss (e.g., collision resulting in damage to or destruction of vehicle) proximately caused by defendant's negligent or otherwise wrongful act or omission. [See California Civil Code sections 3281, 3282, 3333, 3335]

To speak to a California Personal Injury Lawyer about all of the various categories of damages you may be entitled to, please contact our office today.

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