Padilla Law Group, LLP

What type of damages can be sought after an auto accident?

You may have heard the sound of crunching metal, felt the jarring of your body from the impact and felt the pain of your injuries (if you didn't lose consciousness). In the chaos that followed, emergency personnel stabilized you for transport to the hospital. You may have ended up staying in the hospital and needing extensive recovery time even after you left.

Once at home, you began receiving medical bills along with your regular monthly bills. Your lost income due to the accident, and now you wonder how you will make ends meet. If the other driver's negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to recover your monetary losses through the filing of a personal injury claim. Before you do that, however, it would help to know what types of damages a California civil court to award you if the evidence shows that someone else caused your injuries.

Type of damages

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to recover some or all of the following economic damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Loss of future income
  • Disfigurement
  • Household services
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Special damages

Your case may also include loss of consortium due to a loss of companionship and affection with your spouse if you're married. Ordinarily, your spouse claims damages under loss of consortium. His or her compensation depends on what you receive as the result of a successful claim.

Proof of damages

You cannot simply pull a number out of hat when seeking damages in court. You will need to provide the court with evidence to support any claim for damages that you make. Medical bills, the amount of your lost income and other documentation may substantiate your claims for damages.

If you request compensation for future medical expenses, you may need statements from your doctors regarding your prognosis and the extent of your injuries. You will more than likely need to provide the court with your medical records as well. Providing the court with a realistic assessment of your damages could prove challenging.

Your legal rights

More than likely, you were barely home from the hospital when the insurance company came knocking at your door. An insurance agent may have offered you a settlement, and you may consider accepting it. Before you do, you should know that the insurance company may do everything it can to minimize the amount of your claim. The offer presented to you will more than likely constitute far less than your claim may be worth.

It may be a good idea to understand the full extent of your damages before taking the settlement. The money may help in the short term, but you may want to consider the future -- especially if you suffer from permanent injuries. You aren't obligated to accept the offer. You could negotiate with the insurance company for a better settlement, and if you don't get it, you could file a personal injury claim.

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