Los Angeles traffic is legendary, and the severe risk of car accidents comes with all that congestion. Unfortunately, car wrecks in LA County are on the rise. The Los Angeles Times reports that 21% more people were killed in traffic collisions in 2021 than in 2020.
The same article also notes an increasing risk to pedestrians, with 486 injuries and 128 fatalities in 2021.
No specific limit exists to how much a plaintiff can seek in a car accident lawsuit. Victims of car accidents can sue the responsible parties for the full extent of their legal damages.
The amount could range anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to over $1,000,000. The severity of the injuries, the extent of negligence, and the size of the insurance policies are the main factors in determining the value of a case. These primary factors could substantially increase or decrease the settlement or court verdict.
Car accident victims could sue for compensation that covers their legal damages and ask for punitive damages, which are not commonly awarded in injury claims based on negligence. The best way to get the maximum compensation is by retaining an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
What Types of Compensation Can Be Recovered?
Those who've been seriously hurt or whose loved ones were tragically killed in a car wreck may be entitled to significant compensation for expenses that include but aren't limited to:
- Property damage;
- Hospital bills and long-term health care costs;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of consortium;
- Pain and suffering;
- Wrongful death;
- Punitive damages.
Determining what your case is worth will depend on how seriously you or your loved one was injured and how that injury impacted your ability to continue with your life, both professionally and emotionally.
Victims of minor fender-benders who did not suffer a bodily injury and only a small amount of car damage may only be entitled to a couple of hundred dollars to repair their car. On the other hand, the family of a victim who was killed in a fatal motor vehicle accident will typically be entitled to far more in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Some damages, like pain and suffering, are challenging to calculate into a dollar amount. Therefore, your best option for a victim to recover the compensation they deserve is to seek the legal advice of a car accident lawyer who knows how much the victim can recover in a personal injury claim.
Since you were not at fault for the car crash, you deserve compensation for all these losses. The negligent party should be held responsible. They should pay financial compensation for the costs of these damages to make you whole again.
Suing for Economic Damages After a Car Wreck
Victims who've suffered injury or property damage in a car wreck caused by someone else are generally entitled to compensatory damages.
Compensatory claims for economic relief are calculated based on the specific financial loss due to the wreck. In theory, calculating your economic loss should be easy, but various factors can muddy the water.
Property damage claims are separate from personal injury claims. In California, drivers are required by law to carry liability insurance covering property damage and bodily injury.
If the driver who hit you caused damage to your vehicle or other belongings, you're likely entitled to recover costs associated with the replacement value of the property.
Like property damages, you can sue to recover medical expenses resulting from a car wreck caused by another's negligence or recklessness. Average costs for everyday expenses associated with a car wreck include:
- Ambulance transport – $1,189,
- Life flight – between - $12,000 and $25,000,
- Emergency care – $2,200,
- Hospital stay – $11,000 or more per night.
These costs can vary greatly depending on how extensive your or your loved one's injuries are, and ongoing medical needs will severely impact your financial well-being.
Medical debt is the number one reason people file for bankruptcy in the United States. Those who've been financially impacted by injuries sustained in a car wreck must sue for the economic relief they deserve. In addition to property damage and personal injury, you may have to take time off work, resulting in lost wages.
Again, the severity of your injuries may require you to take months off work, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars lost due to your recovery. In a worst-case scenario, you or your loved one may never be able to work again.
Victims are entitled to compensation for their medical treatment, including future needs. In car accidents, a victim's recoverable medical expenses include:
- ambulance cost,
- emergency room treatment,
- testing and diagnostic care,
- X-rays and an MRI,
- surgical care and anesthesiology,
- hospital stay,
- physical therapy, and
- any other medical expenses from the accident.
Suing for Non-Economic Damages After a Car Wreck
Non-economic compensatory damages pertain to costs associated with subjective losses. Pursuant to California law, non-economic compensatory damages include but aren't limited to:
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of society and companionship,
- Loss of consortium.
Calculating non-economic losses won't be black and white. For example, California has no set formula for determining what the victim of a car wreck is owed in terms of pain and suffering or loss of consortium.
Often, the amount awarded to the victim or victims seeking non-economic losses will be determined by a jury. Notably, no maximum amount can be awarded in car accident cases, and an experienced attorney will help you understand what you're entitled to recover.
Suing for Punitive Damages After a Car Wreck
Punitive damages are also considered non-economic, and you may be entitled to sue for punitive damages if the driver who hit you exhibited egregious disregard for your well-being.
These claims are designed to impose financial punishment on the wrongdoer, and there is no cap on the amount you may sue for.
In shared fault cases, victims can see their share of compensation reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, suppose you were more than half at fault. In that case, you may not be able to recover any compensation.
Calculating How Much You Can Sue For
In calculating how much you should sue for after you've been in a car wreck caused by someone else, you'll need to consider both:
- Economic damages,
- Non-economic damages.
Economic damages are evidenced by good record-keeping that evidences the actual expenses you incurred because of the wreck. These damages can easily be tens of thousands of dollars and are designed to help you recover financially.
In addition to your actual expenses, your attorney may advise you to sue for non-economic damages for which there is no maximum amount. These claims are designed to compensate you for emotional anguish.
Finally, punitive damages may be justified when the wrongdoer's actions deserve financial punishment. The car insurance company is responsible for paying the settlement or verdict. Therefore, the responsible driver's insurance coverage will significantly affect the victim's recovery.
If the responsible driver is adequately insured, the insurance company will pay for the settlement or verdict. However, suppose the accountable driver was not insured with liability insurance. In that case, they must pay out of their pocket.
Typically, this means the victim will be significantly under-compensated. Suppose the at-fault driver is underinsured. In that case, the driver's insurance company will only pay a portion of the compensation.
If you were involved in a car accident and injured due to someone's negligence, contact our law firm to review the details and legal options. We offer a free case evaluation and work on a contingency basis. Injury Justice Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.