The compensation you should settle for depends on the extent of damages you suffered from the car accident. The amount should, at the very least, reflect the expenses that you accumulated. These include but are not limited to vehicle repairs, medical treatments, medications, and the income you lost while recovering from your injuries. If the car accident killed a loved one, you could also get compensated for your funeral and burial costs. It should also account for any possible future accident-related expenses.
Ideally, the settlement should have an additional sum that is meant to compensate you for the suffering and other inconveniences you went through. These are known as non-economic damages and can include factors such as disabilities, scarring, psychological trauma, and actual physical pain.
Obtaining an Estimate of Your Recoverable Damages
A car accident lawyer can help you form a rough estimate of what you could receive in your settlement. Calculating your economic damages is straightforward enough as long as you have all the records of your expenses on hand. They can also attempt to compute your non-economic damages by making their own assessment of your pain and suffering.
It may be even more difficult to appraise your potential total damages in a car accident lawsuit, as factors including comparative fault laws and punitive damages may come into play. But you might be able to get an idea of the amount later on as your case progresses in court, and the jury is close to making a verdict in your favor.
Computing Economic Damages More Accurately
You may want to consider compiling vehicle repair invoices, hospital bills, medication receipts, and other such records right after the accident. Having as many documents as possible related to your accident-related expenses will help make a more accurate estimate of your damages. A lawyer may have a financial expert help calculate other damages that are more difficult to gauge, such as future lost wages and medical expenses. All of these will ensure that you receive the appropriate amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Unlike some US states, California does not have any specific formulas that insurance companies or civil courts must follow when computing your non-economic damages. According to the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) §3905A, it is up to the jury’s judgment and common sense to decide how much the plaintiff should receive based on the evidence available.
The sum of your non-economic damages often depends on how severe your injuries are. For instance, if you suffered moderate injuries such as minor burns or lacerations, your damages may get multiplied by twice your medical expenses. If you have severe injuries such as spinal cord or permanent brain damage, you may receive thrice or four times the cost of your treatments. Again, this will depend on the insurer or jury examining your claim or lawsuit.
Other Factors that Can Affect the Amount You Recover
California follows a comparative fault system wherein the court may reduce your receivable damages if they find you partly liable for the accident. Suppose that you were slightly above the speed limit when you collided with the other car. As a result, the jury deems you 25 percent at fault even if the defendant was driving more recklessly. If your initial total were $60,000, you would only get $45,000 or 75 percent.
The jury may also award you punitive or exemplary damages. It is usually given as a form of punishment to the defendant if they were excessively negligent or harmed you on purpose. This may significantly increase the compensation you receive from your car accident case, especially since the state does not have caps on punitive damages that do not result from medical malpractice.
Fighting for Your Right to Compensation
Indeed, how much you should settle for after a car accident in Los Angeles will depend on the expenses and suffering you went through and how much liability you potentially share. If you need help taking legal action, you can consult the office of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. Our lawyers are here to help with your concerns about receiving compensation. We can also negotiate with the insurance provider and defend you in court to help you get a fair settlement. Since we work on a contingency-fee-basis, you do not have to pay us anything unless we win your case.
If you have any inquiries, you may get in touch with us at (800) 223-5115. You can also send your case details through the form provided here for a free assessment.