Calculating Damages in a
Personal Injury Case
In any personal injury case, a plaintiff can claim compensation for their economic and non-economic damages. In rare cases, a plaintiff also might receive punitive damages.
Economic damages have an easily estimated value, including medical bills, incidental expenses, lost income, attorneys’ fees, and court costs. However, if a person’s injuries require future medical intervention, an expert could estimate the cost of that treatment on the plaintiff’s behalf to ensure they receive proper compensation. Similarly, an economist could estimate a plaintiff’s lost income over their expected lifespan if an injury is likely to impact their earnings permanently.
Many losses a plaintiff experiences after an injury are not quantifiable. Nevertheless, they are losses that a negligent defendant should be responsible for paying to a claimant. Non-monetary damages could include compensation for inconvenience, embarrassment, physical pain, disability, psychological trauma, lost ability to participate in enjoyable activities, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
The state permits a jury to award punitive damages when a plaintiff’s injury results from a defendant’s malice, fraud, or oppression. For instance, if a defendant acts intentionally or with extreme recklessness and with disregard for the safety of others, punitive damages could be available to an injured individual. A plaintiff must ask for punitive damages at trial and prove they are entitled to receive them by clear evidence of the defendant’s egregious conduct.
Most personal injury cases settle before trial, and settlements do not include punitive damages. However, if a defendant’s conduct was outrageous, a tenacious attorney in Woodland Hills can demand punitive damages and obtain a more generous settlement for a plaintiff.