WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO IN A NOT AT FAULT CAR ACCIDENT?
You are entitled to two things under California law: economic damages and noneconomic damages.
WHAT ARE SPECIAL DAMAGES?
Economic damages include past and future medical expenses and past and future loss of income. Basically, they are those damages that are measurable, such as a medical bill, or towing charge. Any out of pocket cost would also be considered an economic damage.
In a civil claim you need to resolve your case at some point, either by settlement or verdict. Depending on the severity of personal injuries, the information submitted has to essentially “forecast” the future costs of a personal injury recovery. Past medical bills are easy enough to summarize. It is when you will need future medical attention, a lifetime of medical care, that it becomes challenging to ascertain what those needs may be (having to meet your burden of proof in establishing those needs will be necessary), and then the cost of those needs.
HOW TO WIN THE BATTLEGROUND IN A CAR ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS?
Personal injury experts are usually hired to discuss these needs and the associated costs. Defense has their experts which of course opine that no future medicals will be necessary, or if they are necessary, those future medical needs were caused by the accident. They argue that healthcare will be available through the broken Medicaid or Medicare systems and thus should not be a part of the personal injury settlement or award.
Future medical needs are a large part of the battle in personal injury cases. It has to be proven and presented properly to be obtained. Same challenges lie with loss of income. Not only do you have to prove your income prior to the incident but also that it was medically not possible for you to earn income during your period of disability. If you are so severely injured that you cannot return to your occupation, then you again need to enroll the assistance of personal injury experts, starting with a Vocational Rehabilitationist, who relies on medical opinions and conducts their own testing to determine what aptitudes you may have that would enable you to make future income. All this is boiled down to a number reflecting the difference of what you did make and what you will make before and after the personal injuries.
Again, forecasting the future is challenging. It is essential that your personal injury claim is based on reliable and convincing evidence. So, past and future medical bills, past and future wage loss are the four biggest components of economic damages. Any other out-of-pocket cost is also considered as part of your economic damages. Due to the complexity of this damage assessment, it is not easy to deal with this yourself or rely on your insurance company to maximize your compensation. Take the advantage by hiring a personal injury attorney, without having to pay any money up front, to represent you in your case would be considered your best decision.
WHAT ARE NONECOMONIC DAMAGES?
Noneconomic damages is another way of saying; pain and suffering. For a more detailed definition, California jury instructions define this as “physical pain / mental suffering / loss of enjoyment of life / disfigurement / physical impairment / inconvenience / grief / anxiety / humiliation / emotional distress”. In the event of personal injuries, you are entitled to compensation for noneconomic damages. This is the largest battleground in personal injury claims. Insurance companies can really make obnoxious offers for pain and suffering so it becomes your commitment to being patient and diligent in pursuing the proper amount. Without the help from a personal injury attorney, wining this battle can be extremely challenging.