California Car Accident Damages: What Can You Recover?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Seeking treatment for your injuries is obviously the most important aspect of being in a car accident. However, recovering enough damages to pay for that treatment is equally important. So, what damages can you recover when you’re involved in a California car accident?

Recoverable damages in California

According to Matthew Nezhad, a California attorney whose practice is dedicated to handling personal injury claims and cases for injury victims throughout California, “You can recover for anything that was expended by you out of pocket. So, if there are any medical expenses as a result of the accident, if there are any lost wages, loss of earnings, if there’s loss of property, rental bills, loss of use of property, anything that you would have to spend out of pocket to be made whole, you could recover those economic damages. You might also be able to recover non-economic damages which have to do with the pain and suffering, emotional and mental anguish and things of that nature.”

When are punitive damages available?

Nezhad says that punitive damages are available in certain circumstances. He explained:

Generally speaking, there really wouldn’t be punitive damages in an auto accident case unless there was some egregious conduct by the other person, such as the person was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if there was an exhibition of speed or something to that extent. However, if the facts do show those types of conduct, then yes, you would have the ability to go after them for punitive damages.

That’s definitely not something you should do on your own, though, according to Nezhad. “Many people believe that the insurance company will just deal with it. However, damages in auto accident cases are very complex and you definitely need to talk to an attorney, even if you don’t want to hire them. Talk to the attorney, let him give you some sound information so that you could make a decision whether you need one or not. California auto accident attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay the attorney until the matter is settled or resolved – and you don’t pay anything out of pocket.”

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