Personal Injury Damages In California - General Damages

The purpose of awarding damages in personal injury and tort actions is to compensate victims for injuries by restoring them to their position before the event which caused the injury. In California, damages awarded in personal injury cases typically fall into two basic categories. Both types of damages are commonly referred to actual damages or compensatory damages. Damages may be limited by statute. In California, noneconomic damages in medical malpractice actions based on negligence are limited to $250,000.

The two types of damages are:

  • special damages (economic damages); and
  • general damages (non-economic damages).

In negligence cases, injured parties may recover noneconomic damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. These damages may include actual physical pain, grief, indignity, nervousness, apprehension, and humiliation. In addition to pain and suffering and the various forms of mental discomfort and anguish, they may also allow recovery for a loss of consortium.

Although the injuries on which general or noneconomic damages are based may be subjective in nature, they must be real and genuine to merit recovery. They may be inferred from special damages as well as the facts of the accident or event. It is important to note that not every individual and personal injury plaintiff has the same threshold of pain, nor do they react to an accident in a similar way and fashion.

Determining and measuring noneconomic damages is typically the responsibility of the fact finder, typically a jury. As there is no defined value of general damages such as pain and suffering, a jury will generally place some dollar value on general damages despite the inherent difficulty. An experienced personal injury attorney may assist in establishing the value of general damages suffered by a plaintiff.

As California law provides for reasonable compensation of all actual damages, the Montefalcon Law Office may assist in obtaining rights for negligence victims by offering professional legal assistance. Contact us online or schedule a free consultation at any of our three conveniently located offices. Telephone our downtown Sacramento office at (916) 444 0440, our south Sacramento office at (916) 399-9944, or our Concord office at (925) 222-5929.