Personal Injury Attorney In California

Economic vs. Non-Economic Car Accident Damages: What Is The Difference? [With Examples]

Posted on January 13, 2023

After a car accident, you’ll have to work on your recovery. However, while you should be focused on healing from your injuries in the aftermath, you will also be tasked with trying to recoup your losses.

You’ll have medical bills to contend with, plus you’ll likely be unable to report to work as you recover. Plus, there are many more different compensatory damages that you will need to obtain to keep from going into debt.

If you get into a car accident in Ventura, the King Law Firm can help you resolve those economic damages. With experienced personal injury attorneys on your side, you will also have the help you need to recover non-economic car accident damages which tend to be trickier to claim.

An insurance agent assesses the damage to the car

What Are Compensatory Damages in California?

Compensatory damages are the awards you can receive to recover your financial losses or other costs that are directly related to your injury from your car accident. These can include economic car accident damages, which are measurable expenses that can be added up and non-economic car accident damages which are non-measurable losses.

Economic damages in California are defined as being verifiable monetary losses. These will include things like property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and anticipated future losses. Non-economic damages are more difficult to prove which is why you should contact the King Law Firm in North Hollywood to help you get the right compensation after your car accident.  

Exploring Economic Car Accident Damages

Economic car accident damages are usually easier to prove. This is because they have a dollar amount assigned to them that can be shown through bills or receipts. There are several areas that you can recover for these kinds of damages following your car accident.

Medical Treatment

Even though medical treatment may seem straightforward, only an experienced car accident attorney can help you when disputes arise. Insurance companies stipulate that a victim only needs to be compensated for treatments that are reasonable and necessary. If you were in a car accident and had internal bleeding, for example, having surgery to save your life would be something that falls into that category.

However, the gray areas arise when it comes to pre-existing conditions. If you had a pre-existing condition that became aggravated by this accident, then there may be some back and forth that further adds to your stress. Furthermore, an insurer may apply skepticism in this case and claim that you didn’t seek medical treatment immediately following the accident.

When these things happen, it’s important to have the personal injury team at the King Law Firm on your side to help lead the way to success in your case.

Additionally, medical expenses can go far beyond those hospital and doctor bills. You may need prescriptions to prevent an infection from developing in the site of your incision from surgery. Mileage spent traveling to and from doctor’s appointments, medical devices that help you recover, therapy appointments, and any other medical cost that has arisen as a result of your car accident can also be included.

Most awards in this case will include the cost of what you’ve already spent on your medical care as well as the anticipated future costs. As an example, if you had a traumatic brain injury as the result of this accident, it will require ongoing medical care that is usually very expensive. Having an experienced Northridge car accident attorney to represent you will ensure these costs are calculated with accuracy.

Gavel and stethoscope in background

Lost Income

Immediately following your car accident, it is likely you will not be able to go to work. Some people will only need a short time to recover, perhaps a week or two. Others will need much longer than that, and there are some that will never be able to recover to the point that they can go back to their profession.

For example, if you have endured a severe back injury from the accident, it will prevent you from lifting heavy objects. If you work in an industry such as construction or are required to lift heavy objects, you will not be able to perform your job duties.

Maybe you will be better after you spend time recovering, but if the doctor orders you to not lift anything heavy, you can’t go back to work in your usual capacity. In this case, you can get compensation for your lost income during the months you had to follow those doctors’ orders to recover.

Getting compensation for this would require you to show clear documentation of your lost wages, such as paychecks and any non-salary benefits. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide invoices or other materials that would show what you expected to earn during this time span.

An accident may prevent a victim from doing their job for a certain time while they recover. For example, perhaps you suffered a back injury that prevents you from lifting objects, which you need to do at work. If you need to spend three months recovering at home, you can get compensation for your lost income during those three months. You will need to submit clear documentation of your lost wages, most likely paychecks and evidence of any non-salary benefits. People who are self-employed may need to provide invoices or other materials showing what they would have expected to earn during that time.

Lost Earning Capacity

With lost earning capacity, this is one of those economic car accident damages that is far more complex to prove. It involves any permanent impact of the accident that hinders your ability to work in the future. You may even be able to work to some extent, but you could still recover damages for lost earning capacity if you are forced to take a lower-paying position because of your injuries.

Let’s say you work in delivery and this car accident made you unable to return to that position. Instead, you took a job sitting at a desk entering data for a much lower salary. You can submit the paychecks from before and after the accident to show your reduction in income.

However, be advised that this is incredibly challenging to prove on your own. The King Law Firm’s team of personal injury lawyers can help you gather the appropriate evidence and show the court why you deserve higher compensation. Having an expert on your side will show how these injuries caused by the at-fault driver have impacted your career.

As such, you can make a claim after a catastrophic injury from your car accident which may include the time you had to take off work and a reduction in wages if you needed to change jobs. It can also include a loss of earning capacity which would be the difference between what you would have earned in your life if you hadn’t been injured in this accident and what you will now make.

Property Loss

Economic car accident damages will also include the damage to your vehicle. You can seek compensation for the repairs needed. For example, if the passenger door can no longer open and the window was shattered, you can recover those repair costs. This would also apply if your car were completely inoperable following the accident. You would then be entitled to the fair market value of your vehicle as compensation after it is totaled out.

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident in Oxnard, let our experienced personal injury attorneys at the King Law Firm stand by you. We will work to get you the compensation you deserve after your accident.

Understanding Non-Economic Car Accident Damages

Non-economic damages following a car accident are certainly more challenging to show. These non-economic car accident damages can include suffering from anxiety or depression, disfigurement, pain, or loss of enjoyment of your life.

In regards to non-economic car accident damages, let’s say that you are involved in a catastrophic collision caused by a drunk driver. This devastating accident could have left you completely paralyzed. Without being able to use your limbs, you would not be able to do the job you once did or partake in your favorite hobbies. If you have a baby or young children at home, you will no longer be able to pick them up and hold them.

These types of things would all fall under this broad category. There is no set dollar amount that can be provided for the toll these non-economic damages will have on you. As such, the King Law Firm’s personal injury attorneys can help you during this devastating time by helping you gain compensation for these types of losses.

Non-economic car accident damages can do so many things to your mental and physical health. If you can prove that the at-fault party has negatively impacted your way of life, you could win your personal injury claim.

Sad woman lying in the bed

Does California Have a Cap for Non-Economic Damages?

In California, there is no cap to how much compensation you can receive for non-economic damages. The only exception is for medical malpractice cases. Even though you cannot easily measure these general damages, that means you have a wide open door to pursue them for things that aren’t readily quantifiable.

General damages are incredibly subjective and vary from case to case. You may receive more or less for these non-economic car accident damages depending on your circumstances. That’s why good representation makes all the difference in showing the court you suffered emotional distress, physical impairment, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of reputation, and the loss of enjoyment of your life.

Another reason you will want a personal injury attorney from the King Law Firm is because there are certain federal limits in place. These cannot be significantly high in comparison to what you are awarded for your specific injuries.

In general terms, if your monetary damages add up to $10,000 after your accident, you likely won’t receive more than $100,000 for non-economic damages. They are usually limited to 10 times the amount of your economic damage claims.

What You Should Do After a Car Accident

In the state of California, you are required to call the police after you get involved in an accident. Not only will this ensure you get proper medical attention for anyone that was injured, including yourself, but it will also prevent the at-fault driver from changing their story or giving out false information.

As attorneys, the King Law Firm also advises you to let the EMTs check you out. You may not think you are hurt, but many injuries are not apparent from the outside. You do not need a gaping head wound, for example, to have a traumatic brain injury.

It may be a blur in those moments following your accident, but capturing all the evidence you can at the scene is imperative. This will help you pursue your case and get the compensation you need.

In the event that you were injured to the point that you lost consciousness and were unable to obtain evidence, it is even more important to choose a personal injury attorney. We can use data from traffic cameras, police reports, and your vehicle’s black box to help prove your case. We can also track down witnesses at the scene and get professional medical testimony from doctors and experts to prove both economic and non-economic damages.

Man capturing evidence after a car accident

Contact the King Law Firm for a Consultation Today

At the King Law Firm, our experience and success get results. Don’t fight the at-fault driver and insurance companies alone. We’re with you every step of the process to obtain the best possible outcome for you.

We offer free initial consultations where we can go over all the details of your car accident and listen to the particulars of your unique situation. With us by your side, you’ll be able to focus on your recovery while we work to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve after your car accident. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation to begin getting your life back on track.

Category: Car Accident, Economic Damages, Non-Economic Damages