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Types of Recoverable Personal Injury Damages in California

Each year, thousands of accidents and incidents that merit personal injury claims take place in California. From 2018 to 2019 alone, approximately 40,748 motor vehicle personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death claims were filed all over the state. As for the other types of personal injury claims (incidents not related to driving accidents and negligence), approximately 22,390 were filed in all 58 counties in California.

With over 63,000 personal injury claims filed each year, people should know about the different types of personal injury claims for which they may file demand compensation.

There are two main types of personal injuries and recoverable damages: compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

As the name suggests, compensatory damages refer to monetary compensation paid by the people responsible for a victim’s personal injury.

California follows the pure comparative fault rule (also called pure comparative negligence) which states that people who are injured in an accident may still receive compensation even if they are partly at fault. The amount of the compensation will be determined based on the percentage of fault. So if the other party is only 10% at fault for an accident, the victims can only receive 10% of the total damages awarded by the court.

Compensatory damages have the following sub-classifications:

     1. Economic Damages or Special Compensatory Damages

These are the compensation victims receive for the monetary costs they incurred because of their injury. Examples of economic damages are reimbursements, out-of-pocket payments, or insurance coverage for:

  • Expenses related to medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages (both due to temporary incapacitation and permanent disability)
  • Damaged or lost property
  • Losses from unfulfilled travel plans (if the victim sustained injuries while in the middle of a travel calendar).

 2. Non-Economic Damages or General Compensatory Damages

These refer to damages that are still valid even though they aren’t easily quantifiable (primarily because they’re not “costs” that can be printed out in a receipt).

The following are examples of non-economic damages victims can demand to be compensated for.

  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • A tarnished reputation
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship and sexual intimacy
  • Body disfigurement.

Legal experts usually add a third sub-category under economic damages for personal injuries: wrongful death. It combines the impact of both economic and non-economic damages. Victims may receive compensation for their medical treatment as well as the emotional trauma they experienced because of the accident.

Punitive Damages

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages seek to punish the party responsible for the personal injury or wrongful death. For this reason, punitive damages are not meant to compensate a victim’s financial burdens that resulted from the accident.

California courts may award a defendant punitive damages on top of compensatory damages if:

  • The person responsible for the accident acted maliciously
  • The person responsible does not show any sign of remorse
  • The court wants to make an example of the defendant to deter others from committing the same offenses.

File a Claim with Our Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Haffner Law

Make sure you get the compensation you deserve and hold the people responsible for your injuries accountable with Haffner Law.

Our law office in California specializes in personal injury claims and lawsuits. Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience in defending the rights of victims of car accidents, workplace accidents, and other types. They aim for the highest possible compensation for all our clients.

Choose our experienced personal injury attorneys at Haffner Law. Call us today

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$ 97,284,817

Class Action / Rest Break


Bad Faith

$ 8,820,000

Brain Injury


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Construction Defect
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