What Damages Can a Car Accident Victim Recover?

A recent Los Angeles car accident has left at least one person dead and another four recovering from moderate-to-serious injuries. Reports indicate that a Santa Clarita woman stole a pickup truck and, in order to evade capture, sped the truck the wrong way down the 210 Freeway. While driving westbound on an eastbound road, the woman purposely attempted to hit oncoming cars and, at times, reached speeds in excess of 100 MPH.

Why the Victims Should Consider Filing a Personal Injury Claim

In California, accident victims who are injured because of the negligent and/or wrongful conduct of another person may be entitled to recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. This compensation can be incredibly helpful as they deal with unexpected financial burdens. A serious car accident injury can require extensive medical treatment and, in some cases, force a victim to miss time at work. Medical bills can be overwhelming enough on their own. When a victim loses their income because of an injury the financial burden can be crippling. Fortunately, the compensation that can be recovered from a personal injury lawsuit can help to compensate for these (and other) harms.

Car Accident Damages

Car accident victims in California are generally able to recover two different kinds of damages: economic and non-economic. Each of these types of damages helps to compensate the victim for different types of harms.

What are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are awarded to help compensate victims for the unexpected financial expenditures and loses they have suffered because of an accident. These damages will be limited to the amounts the victim can prove that they have lost or expect to lose. Examples of harms that economic damages can be awarded to compensate for include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgical procedures
  • Medication
  • Medical consults
  • Lost wages, and
  • Reduced earning capacity.

What are Non-Economic Damages?

Car accident victims may suffer injuries and harms that do not necessarily cost them anything out of pocket. This does not mean that these injuries are any less serious or damaging to their lives. Non-economic damages can be awarded to compensate car accident victims for these hard-to-value injuries. Examples of harms that non-economic damages can be awarded for include:

  • Emotional trauma and distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Embarrassment
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium, and
  • Disfigurement or scarring.

Can Car Accident Victims Recover Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are separate from other damages and are awarded solely to punish a defendant. In most cases, car accident victims are not entitled to recover punitive damages. However, if a victim can prove that the at-fault party is guilty of “wanton and reckless misconduct” they may be entitled to punitive compensation. What is wanton and reckless conduct? Courts have explained that wanton and reckless misconduct is much more than negligence, gross negligence, or recklessness. Wanton and reckless misconduct occurs when a defendant intentionally performs an act that is so dangerous “that he must have known that harm would probably result.”

The victims who were injured in the accident discussed above may have a legitimate argument for recovering punitive damages. The woman (1) drove the car the wrong way on a busy Los Angeles freeway, (2) reportedly attempted to hit other cars head-on, and (3) exceeded 100 MPH at times. It could be argued that her conduct amounted to wanton and reckless conduct.

Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys

If you have been injured in a Los Angeles car accident you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important to know that you have a limited amount of time to act after your accident. If you do not file your claim before the two-year statute of limitations expires you won’t be able to recover the money you need and deserve. The attorneys at Joshua W. Glotzer, APC can help to make sure that your claim is filed on time and that you are fairly compensated for your car accident injuries. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn about the benefits of filing a car accident lawsuit.

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