All the work needed to put a case together won’t amount to much without solid evidence of the harm you suffered.
Your compensation for your personal injury case depends on how severely you’re impacted by the accident. Proving you deserve compensation is a critical part of your personal injury case. If you can’t do so, your lawsuit will be dismissed.
The Hicks Law Firm will thoroughly investigate your case to determine what happened, why, and who is responsible. We also document all the harm done so we can show an insurance company or jury what compensation you deserve and why you should receive it. If you need help after you or a loved one is injured in an accident, call the Hicks Law Firm at (949) 541-9944.
What are Personal Injury Cases?
Personal injuries include every injury to a person’s emotions, feelings, or body. There are three classes of cases based on why and how they happened.
- Negligence: The defendant (the party sued) failed to behave with the care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the circumstances. This could mean they should not have done something (ran a stoplight), they should’ve done something (a store should’ve cleaned a slick floor), or they did something but not well enough (a doctor ordered tests, but given the situation, should’ve ordered different ones)
- Strict liability: A defendant is engaged in abnormally dangerous activities or puts an unreasonably dangerous product into the market, even when it’s used as directed or advertised
- Intentional acts: The defendant wanted to harm you and took action to do so
When it’s unclear which of these may apply to a case, we may plead that more than one may apply. We may allege a defendant either negligently or intentionally caused an accident. Negligence is often claimed along with strict liability.
What Kinds of Damages are Awarded in California Personal Injury Cases?
You have the burden of proving that it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s liable for its actions and must compensate you for the harm you suffer. The damages you claim can’t be speculative, imaginary, or just possible. Recovery is allowed when it’s reasonably sure the harm happened or will continue to happen, but for the defendant’s wrongful acts.
There are two types of damages available in California – actual and punitive. Actual damages compensate you for past losses caused by your injuries and the reasonably expected future harm you will continue to suffer.
Actual damages are broken down into general and special damages.
- General: Intangible losses like pain, suffering, anxiety, depression, embarrassment, harm to relationships, the loss of enjoyment of life
- Special: Tangible economic harm due to monetary losses or increased costs. They include out-of-pocket expenses, property damage, medical bills, lost income, and benefits
There are, generally, no limits on actual damage awards, but there’s one exception. Thanks to the passage of Proposition 213 in 1996, if a driver has no insurance or proof of financial responsibility, they can’t recover general damages, but they can obtain special damages. This rule applies no matter who’s at fault for the accident.
Punitive damages punish the defendant to discourage it, and others like it, from taking the same actions or inaction. They’re not based on your losses but on the defendant’s actions, what they knew, and their indifference to the harm they may cause. They can also be awarded when a defendant intentionally harms someone.
How are General Damages Measured?
Nearly all personal injury cases settle without going to trial. When we make a demand to an insurance company whose policy covers the defendant, we calculate special and general damages. Special damages are based on actual figures and projections of future costs.
General damage estimates use the special damages figure as a starting point, so in a way, they’re counted twice. To develop a good starting figure for negotiations, we will usually multiply the medical costs’ part of your special damages by 1.5 to 5 (known as a multiplier).
The basis for this is as injuries become more serious, treatment and rehabilitation costs increase, so it’s a way to calculate pain and suffering, which is vague (unlike the costs of x-rays). Facts used to come up with a multiplier include:
- How painful your injury type
- How invasive your treatment
- How long treatment will last
- How severe or visible the permanent injury effects will be
If the case doesn’t settle, the jury will decide if the defendant’s liable for the accident, and if so, how much compensation you should be paid. The evidence that’ll establish your general damages may include:
- Special damages figures
- Your testimony
- Testimony of your healthcare providers
- Testimony of family members and friends about how your life’s changed
- Expert medical testimony of how much pain and mental stress someone with your injuries usually suffers
- Medical records that describe your emotional, psychological, and physical injuries, including the types and amounts of medications for pain, depression, and anxiety
- A video of your average day that documents the physical and mental struggles you face
A jury will take this evidence, decide how much weight to give it, and come up with a general damages figure. This uncertainty is a significant reason why parties settle cases. A jury may come up with a damages amount that’s very high or low. Though we can give you our thoughts on what we think a jury will do, we won’t know until the verdict’s announced.
Are You Entitled to a Damages Award?
All the work needed to put a case together won’t amount to much without solid evidence of the harm you suffered. It’s a vital part of the cases we work on.
Hicks Law Firm is comprised of personal injury attorneys who’ve successfully represented people injured in many accidents. We can help you recover all the damages you may be entitled to through a settlement or a trial. Schedule a complimentary case consultation by contacting us today.
Join the conversation!