A brain injury can severely impact a person’s life. Simply put, life may never be the same again. If you were in an accident where you not at fault and sustained a brain injury, California law provides that you can be awarded damages to compensate you for your injuries. Your compensation will be tied to the extent of your injuries as well as to what your life was like before the accident.
Proving what money damages you are entitled to can be complicated and is best handled by a lawyer who understands the different types of damages and the sophisticated methods used to determine what an appropriate damage award would be. Damages must be proven by very specific ways. A judge or jury does not simply hear your case and assign a number it thinks is fair. Rather, evidence must be presented on a variety of topics. Even if you settle, you still must take these types of damages into consideration.
These are typical types of damages you may be entitled to:
- 1. Past and future medical expenses. Any related medical expenses you have paid for can be proven by receipts and are awardable. Future medical expenses will also be estimated by an expert and are also awardable.
- 2. Past and future loss of income. Any income you lost because you could not work due to your brain injury can be awarded. An expert will testify to how much money you will lose in the future due to your inability to work. These calculations will vary based on your job and education.
- 3. Loss of consortium. If you are seriously injured and married, your spouse can bring a lawsuit for loss of consortium. This type of award is meant to compensate for the spouse’s loss of affection, companionship, and love after your accident.
- 4. Pain and suffering. This award is meant to address physical and in some cases mental or emotional pain. One factor that heavily informs the pain and suffering award is the amount of medical bills you have. Also, the nature of the injury is important. If the injury involved disfigurement or was to a sensitive part of the body, a pain and suffering award is usually higher.
In some rare cases, a judge or jury may award punitive damages. While the damages discussed above are meant to compensate a victim for his or her losses, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are not always available.
Keep in mind that any damage award could be reduced if you are found partially at fault. In California, if you are found to be partially liable, a judge or jury will assign a percentage of fault to you, and your damage award will be reduced by that amount. It is crucial to consult with an attorney experienced in traumatic brain injuries to ensure that you get all the monetary damages to which you are entitled. You need a lawyer who understands what such an injury will cost you decades down the road, so that you can get an award that fully compensates you.
Why You Need an Attorney Before You Accept a Settlement Offer
As a TBI victim, it is critical to understand that the insurance company that you are dealing with wants to settle the case for as little as they possibly can. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and will pay out the minimum amount they can on claims in order to comply with their contractual obligations. The insurance company is not on your side and does not have to make you a reasonable settlement offer.
As a victim who has never been through this process before, you are at a distinct disadvantage compared to the insurance company. They handle accidental injury claims every day and know how to get victims to admit partial fault or engage in tactics designed to stretch the process out so that claimants settle for less. In addition, as a victim you probably have little idea of what your case is actually worth. All of these factors combined can put you at risk of accepting a settlement offer that is far below what your case is actually worth.
When you retain an attorney, he or she will thoroughly evaluate your case, determine what it may be worth at trial, and ensure that the insurance company treats you fairly. If it refuses to do so, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf and make sure that you receive the full and fair value of your TBI claim.