Compensation in Los Angeles Car Accident Lawsuits

Car accidents can be expensive. Serious accidents can result in extensive property damage and bodily injuries. Americans, on average, do not have enough saved away to pay for the cost of recovering from a car accident. In Los Angeles, car accident victims can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation from the person(s) that caused the accident. These lawsuits must follow specific procedural guidelines. A successful lawsuit will include evidence that supports your argument of why you should be awarded damages. It is important to understand what you can recover, when you can recover it, and when you may be denied an award of compensation. Speaking with an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney is a great first step toward recovering the damages you deserve.

When can I recover compensation for my car accident injuries?

Personal injury lawsuits – including those following Los Angeles car accidents – must be filed within the statute of limitations provided by law. The statute of limitations is a specific window of time following your accident. In most car accident cases, you must file a claim for damages within two years of the accident. If you have an injury that you do not notice right away, you can file a claim within one year of discovering it. If you do not file a claim within the statute of limitations you may be barred from recovering compensation. It is extremely important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a Los Angeles car accident.

What kind of damages can I recover in a car accident injury lawsuit?

Car accident victims can generally ask for two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Each type of damages is intended to compensate car accident victims for different types of injuries. It is important to note that the type of damages you recover can affect your income for tax purposes. Economic damages are not taxable. Non-economic damages are taxable.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are awarded to car accident victims for the financial hardships they suffer because of the accident. The idea behind awarding economic damages is that a car accident victim would not have had to deal with these expenses and costs if the accident had not occurred. Economic damages are awarded to put a victim back in the financial position they would have been in had the accident not happened. Commonly awarded economic damages in Los Angeles car accident lawsuits include:

  • The cost of repairing or replacing damaged property;
  • Rental cars;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Surgery;
  • Prescription medication;
  • Rehabilitation;
  • Nursing care;
  • Lost wages; and
  • Reduced earning capacity.

Economic damages are not taxable because the victims are not really receiving a benefit. You are merely being reimbursed for costs that you would not have otherwise had to handle. There can be an exception if deductions were previously taken on an income tax return for medical expenses. As a general rule, however, economic damages are not taxable.

Non-economic Damages

Car accidents can cause victims to suffer from intangible injuries and harms. These injuries are difficult to assign a monetary value. As a result, an award for these types of injuries will often vary (by a large degree) in each individual case. Commonly awarded non-economic damages in Los Angeles car accident lawsuits include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Embarrassment;
  • Disfigurement; and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

We know what these injuries are but it is difficult to assign a “one size fits all” definition. A finder of fact (judge or jury) will consider evidence and testimony to determine an award that is appropriate to compensate a victim for his/her particular suffering.

Non-economic damages are taxable because victims are receiving a benefit. You are not being reimbursed for financial costs related to your car accident. Rather, you are being awarded an amount of money to reduce the suffering you are experiencing.

Is there a limit to the damages I can recover after a Los Angeles car accident?

California does not have a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded in a civil personal injury lawsuit. This means that the sky can be the limit for plaintiffs in a car accident lawsuit. However, there are certain situations that may prohibit or reduce your ability to recover compensation.

Prohibitions on Recovery

In California, there are two situations in which you can be prohibited from recovering non-economic damages for injuries in a Los Angeles car accident. First, you may not recover non-economic damages if you were not insured at the time of your accident. Second, you may not recover non-economic damages if you were intoxicated and convicted of driving under the influence.

Comparative Fault

California utilizes the theory of comparative fault. This means that if you are partly responsible for the accident that caused your injury, any damages you recover must be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. Let’s say you were recently injured in a Los Angeles car accident when another driver struck your vehicle. The other driver was speeding at the time, which was a contributing factor to the accident. You were distracted at the time of the accident because you were texting. Had you been paying attention to the road, the accident may have been less severe and/or avoidable. The other driver is considered to be 70% at-fault. You are considered to be 30% at-fault. You both suffered $100,000 in damages. You would be limited to recovering $70,000 from the other driver. The other driver would, at the same time, be limited to recovering $30,000 of his/her damages from you if they also filed a claim.

If a Los Angeles driver is considered to be 100% at fault for a car accident they are prohibited from seeking compensation from any other involved party.

Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney

Have you been injured in a Los Angeles car accident? If so, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the harms you have suffered. If you are interested in maximizing the amount of compensation you can recover you should speak with a Los Angeles car accident attorney. As skilled personal injury attorneys, we understand the nuances of California law and the best ways to design a claim for damages. We will highlight the evidence that is most beneficial to your case while also attacking any claims asserted by other parties. Contact our Los Angeles office today to schedule a free consultation with our team of car accident attorneys. We will review your case, determine the type of compensation you may be able to recover, and answer the questions you have.