What am I able to claim in a personal injury case?

car accident

Under California law, having auto insurance grants you the right to seek compensation for various types of damages in the event of an accident. These damages encompass a wide range of losses and hardships, ensuring that you receive fair reparation for the consequences of the incident. It's crucial to understand the components of this compensation, which can include:

Pain and Suffering

The most significant aspect of your bodily injury claim is your entitlement to compensation for the physical and emotional distress you have endured. It may continue to endure due to your injury. These general damages often surpass the tangible losses like medical expenses and lost wages. It's important to note that there is no fixed formula for quantifying pain and suffering as it varies from case to case.

Medical Expenses

Reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your injury are recoverable. This includes costs for hospitalization, medical procedures, therapy, nursing care, diagnostic tests, surgeries, physical therapy, and more. Any current and anticipated future medical expenses are considered in this category.

Loss of Earnings

You can recover any income lost due to your injuries, including wages, commissions, bonuses, and fringe benefits. If your injuries result in a permanent reduction in your earning capacity, you can seek compensation for the loss of future earnings over your remaining working years.


If your injury causes scarring or other visible marks, you can claim compensation not only for the physical disfigurement but also for the emotional distress, embarrassment, or humiliation associated with it. Costs related to cosmetic surgery may also be included.

Damage to the Marital Relationship

Severe injuries to a spouse may adversely affect the marital relationship. In such cases, you or your spouse may seek compensation for the loss of companionship, affection, assistance, conjugal fellowship, and the impairment of sexual relations caused by the injury.

Punitive Damages

In exceptional cases involving "criminal negligence," such as accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, you may be eligible for punitive damages. These are additional damages imposed to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.

Wrongful Death

In cases of wrongful death, close family members, including a spouse, parent, or child, may be entitled to various damages. These can cover economic losses, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, comfort, protection, and more. The estate of the deceased person may also be eligible for compensation.

It's essential to consult with legal experts who can assess your specific situation and guide you through the process of seeking compensation for these damages. Keep in mind that every case is unique, and the value of each element of compensation depends on the circumstances and severity of the injury.

Editor's Note: updated 11.1.23 Photo by Deposit Photos [cs 455]

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