Whenever someone is injured in a personal injury accident, whether a motor
vehicle accident, pedestrian accident, bicycle accident or construction
site accident, the law in California allows for the recovery of what is
called “damages.” Damages constitute money amounts that a
jury may award for the injured person in an accident that is someone else’s fault.
The two areas of damages are called “compensatory damages” and “pain and suffering damages.” Compensatory damages constitute reimbursement for economic losses, which means costs, either already or reasonably certain to be incurred in the future. Examples are medical expenses, doctor bills, ambulance charges, medication expenses and similar charges, whether or not they are paid for by health insurance. Also included are lost wages for missed work. Compensatory damages also cover future economic losses, like anticipated surgery expenses, or future wage losses for missed work due to medical treatment. If the injured person can no longer return to the same job, costs for re-training, lost earnings and all related expenses may be recoverable. Compensatory, economic damages are based upon the dollar amount incurred or reasonably expected in the future.
Pain and suffering damages are different. They are monetary awards that a jury may give for “Past and future physical pain/mental suffering/loss of enjoyment of life/disfigurement/physical impairment/inconvenience/grief/anxiety/humiliation/emotional distress, or other damages.”
If you or a person that you are close to is involved in a personal injury accident, you should understand that the responsible person or entity may be held to not only reimburse you for economic losses, but for the pain and suffering results from the experience.