What are the different types of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit?
Just like the damage to the vehicles involved, the injuries sustained in a car accident can vary from minor to devastating. If you were injured as a result of an accident, then you can file suit against the person responsible for your injuries. In the event your suit is successful, you will be awarded “damages” which are compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and more resulting from your accident. The at-fault driver or their automobile insurance company is responsible for paying the amount of damages awarded. If the driver was determined to be particularly reckless or negligent, then the judge might also award you punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate for the economic (financial) losses that have been incurred, both prior and future. This includes any medical expenses, present and potential, lost wages due to absence from work needed to recover from injuries, pain, suffering, and mental anguish may also be awarded. Typically, a jury generally determines the amount of damages to be awarded, but ultimately the judge presiding over the case has the final say.
California is one of the states that follow the comparative fault law. The judge or jury will examine the case and determine your percentage of fault in causing the accident. If you contributed to the accident by your own negligence, the amount of damages you are able to recover will be decreased by that percentage. Comparative negligence is a legal term that means that your own carelessness, recklessness or negligence was a factor in causing the collision in addition to your injuries.
Exemplary or Punitive Damages
In some cases, you may also be awarded compensation in addition to the actual expenses of medical treatment, pain and suffering. These are known as punitive or exemplary damages and they are designed to be a punishment for the defendant for their recklessness and hopefully discourage repeated behavior. Actions or behavior of the defendant which surpasses basic negligence, such as malicious, vindictive, willful, or deliberate conduct is also a factor that is considered while determining this type compensation.
There are numerous factors which give the courts a reason to award punitive damages. The most common factors are driver incompetence, driving at speeds much higher than the speed limit, violation of traffic laws and safety regulations, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or knowledge of an existing problem in the vehicle which could have caused the accident.
Sacramento Injury Attorneys
To get the maximum possible compensation for your injuries speak with an experienced Sacramento car accident attorney from the law offices of Zappettini and Bradley. Call us today at (916) 457-5022 for a free consultation.