California law provides for many forms of damages. Each has a different purpose and method for calculation. Some examples include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages, or special damages, cover how your accident affects your finances. These damages range from medical bills to loss of future earnings.
Here is an overview of economic damages and how to prove them.
Economic Losses Caused by an Accident
California law defines economic losses as “objectively verifiable monetary losses.” These can include:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Amounts billed to you that you need to pay
- Costs you will incur in the future with reasonable certainty
- Revenue or income that you did not receive
Let’s dive deeper into a few specific categories of economic damages:
In a car accident, your vehicle will suffer damage, and you will need to repair or replace it. You might also have damaged or lost personal property in the crash, like broken glasses and torn clothing.
Past and Future Medical Expenses
After the accident, you probably incurred at least some medical expenses for your injuries, including:
- Ambulance transportation
- Medical examinations
- Treatment and surgery
- Physical therapy
- Mental health counseling
If you have health insurance, you might not have to bear 100% of these costs. But you probably paid copays or deductibles before your health insurer paid its share.
You may also have ongoing medical expenses. Physical therapy can take months or even years. And if you have mental or emotional trauma from your accident, you might need ongoing counseling and therapy.
Catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries and brain injuries might even require round-the-clock nursing or assistance with breathing, eating, and moving.
You might have some losses that flow from the accident, even if they were not directly caused by the accident. Some examples include:
- Transportation due to damage to your car
- Travel for out-of-town medical appointments
- Domestic services like childcare, cooking, and cleaning while you recover
These losses usually count as economic losses from your accident if they are reasonable and necessary consequences of your accident.
If you lost a loved one in the accident, their funeral and burial expenses count as economic damages. In California, you pursue these damages in a wrongful death claim against the person or business that caused your loved one’s death.
California recognizes a few types of income losses from an accident. Loss of earnings will include all of the wages, tips, salary, and revenue that you lose due to missing work. Your reason for missing work must relate to the accident.
For example, you can probably include all earnings lost due to:
- Lack of transportation
- Doctor-ordered time off
- Medical appointments
- Travel for treatment or therapy
- Inability to perform job duties due to disability
If you lose your job due to your accident or injuries, you can claim 100% of the earnings you lost. But you do not need to miss work entirely to seek compensation for lost income. If your employer changes your job duties due to your injuries and you receive lower pay for the new duties, you can seek compensation for the difference in pay.
Another category of income losses includes the loss of business or job opportunities. A car salesman, for example, might claim lost sales commissions for the days the salesman was confined to a wheelchair and could not show cars in the car lot.
Proving Economic Losses
Economic losses are called special damages because they are unique to your case. A claims adjuster or jury cannot award economic damages without proof of their values. If you have no evidence to support your claim of economic damages, you will receive nothing.
Fortunately, most economic losses come directly from written records. Some documents you can use to prove economic losses include:
- Canceled checks
- Medical bills
- Prescription receipts
- Repair estimates
- Travel and hotel receipts
- Payroll records
When you pursue a claim for economic losses, you will submit the records that document your losses. The claims adjuster or jury will determine which losses were reasonable and necessary in light of your accident. They will then add up all of your losses to arrive at your economic damages award.
Get Help From an Experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will assemble the evidence to prove your economic losses. Your lawyer will also work with you to make sure you can justify all of your claimed losses by tying them to your accident. Lawyers can recover a range of economic losses through an injury claim. To learn about the economic damages you can expect in your injury case, contact today the M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.