California Damage Caps

Recovering compensation after sustaining an injury caused by another party can be challenging. However, individuals are often able to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and various types of pain and suffering damages through an insurance settlement or as a result of a personal injury jury verdict. 

But are there any limitations, or caps, on the total damages that an individual can receive in these situations?

No Caps on Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to the calculable losses individuals are likely to sustain after an injury occurs. These are also referred to as “special damages.” The most common types of economic damages for a personal injury claim in California include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost earnings
  • Various out-of-pocket expenses
  • Property damage expenses

In the state of California, there are no caps, or limitations, on how much money a person can get for their economic losses through an insurance settlement or a personal injury jury verdict. Economic damages will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular claim. Some of the main influences on these damages include the severity of the injury, how long a person his away from work, and whether or not there is any permanent disability.

Limited Caps on Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are also considered compensatory losses in a personal injury case. These are often referred to as “general damages,” and they focus on the more immeasurable losses an individual is likely to sustain after an injury occurs. There may not be direct bills or receipts that can properly calculate a person’s:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse

There are various methods that injury victims and their attorneys can use to adequately calculate non-economic damages. This is typically done by using a multiplier method, where the total economic losses are added up and then multiplied by a set number to reach a non-economic total. Often, the non-economic total reaches a figure significantly higher than the economic damage total.

In general, there are no caps on non-economic damages for a California personal injury claim. However, there are exceptions for medical malpractice cases. In this state, medical malpractice claims have a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, which includes every type of pain and suffering loss.

Punitive Damages and Caps

Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, are awarded if the court finds that the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent, intentional, or malicious. These damages are not often awarded, but when they are, they are meant to punish the defendant and send the signal to others that these types of actions are not acceptable. There are no caps on punitive damages in California.

Work With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury or property damage caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another individual or entity, you need to reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer in Irvine as soon as possible. An attorney can use their resources to investigate the claim and help you handle insurance carriers or the personal injury trial process.

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