Economic Damages in California Injury Cases

Economic damages are awarded to offset the verifiable financial costs and monetary losses of an avoidable accident. An experienced California injury lawyer can help ensure you recover the full value of your economic losses.

When you suffer injuries in an avoidable accident in California, you generally have the right to file a claim and seek compensatory damages from the responsible party or their insurance company.

Compensatory damages fall into two categories: economic damages and noneconomic damages. While both of these awards play critical roles as you recover from your accident, economic damages are particularly important. Our Sacramento personal injury attorneys discuss economic damages—including their purpose and function and what they might cover.

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    The Intent and Purpose of Awarding Economic Damages

    Accidents can be costly. If you get hurt because someone else is negligent, you should not have to shoulder those expenses on your own. That’s where economic damages come in.

    Economic damages are intended to compensate for all objectively provable expenses and monetary losses related to an avoidable accident and resulting injuries. When you seek economic damages, you are looking to reach the financial position you held before your accident.

    Once economic damages are awarded, the responsible parties bear the financial consequences, not you.

    Economic Awards Can Include Compensation for Present and Future Expenses

    After an accident, your related expenses and financial losses will likely reach into the future—sometimes for the rest of your life. In California, economic damages are calculated with this in mind.

    In addition to seeking damages for your current out-of-pocket costs, you can also seek damages for future financial losses—both direct and direct—so long as the costs are reasonably certain to occur.

    Items of Economic Damage in California

    Several different economic damages can be awarded in a California personal injury case. Here are the most common:

    Medical Expenses

    Injuries—whether mild, moderate, or severe—tend to require medical treatment. You can seek economic damages to reimburse you and/or cover the costs of necessary and reasonable medical care, both present and future.

    Common expenses include:

    • Medical transportation (ambulance)
    • Hospitalization
    • Surgery (corrective and/or plastic, depending on the circumstances)
    • Medication
    • Medical devices
    • Medical equipment
    • Physical therapy
    • Occupational therapy

    You can also receive compensation for the cost of travel to and from a hospital or your health-care provider.

    Loss of Earnings

    Severe injuries can prevent you from working. Even if you have available paid time off, the financial consequences can be devastating. You shouldn’t have to exhaust your sick leave and vacation days because someone else caused an accident.

    Damages can be awarded to make up for the wages, income, benefits, and other lost earnings due to your accident-related injury. California law even states that you can recover compensation if you miss out on employment opportunities—like a promotion or new business venture—because of someone else’s negligence.

    Reduced Earning Capacity

    If you are unable to return to work in the same capacity, your income might suffer. Damages can be awarded to make up for the difference between what you earned before you got hurt and what you are capable of earning now.


    Some injuries will prevent you from ever going back to work. In these situations, damages can be awarded to offset your total loss of income so you can still make ends meet.

    Property Damage

    Property damage can be costly. Under California law, you can seek money to cover the costs of replacing damaged property or what it will cost to repair it.

    Nursing Assistance

    If the severity of your injuries prevents you from caring for yourself, or if you require assistance, damages can be awarded to cover the costs of a nursing facility or in-home caretaker.

    Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    Economic damages should cover reasonable and necessary monetary expenses and losses related to your accident and injury. There is no set list of economic items that you pick and choose from. Instead, you can file a claim and seek compensation for all your costs.

    Some relevant out-of-pocket costs could include:

    • Vehicle rental
    • Alterations to your home or vehicle that are necessary to accommodate a disability
    • Hotel stays if you have to travel to obtain specialized medical treatment

    Work with an experienced personal injury attorney in California when identifying economic damages to confidently seek full compensation for your losses.

    How are economic damages calculated?

    Unless issues of shared fault arise, you are entitled to recover the total value of your monetary costs and losses. Typically, these are calculated using:

    • Hospital bills
    • Receipts
    • Invoices
    • Wage statements
    • Time sheets
    • W2s and tax returns

    Things can get a bit more complicated when seeking economic damages for future losses. In these situations, you must identify the projected cost or loss. You will need to consider the present cash value, how long you are likely to experience that financial loss, and other important factors.

    An experienced California personal injury attorney near you will have experts who can provide guidance during this critical stage of your case.

    California Personal Injury Lawyers Ready to Seek Full Compensation for Your Economic Losses

    Contact Cutter Law if you have recently been injured in an accident in California. Our award-winning trial attorneys in Sacramento, Oakland, and Santa Rosa are ready to fight for your maximum financial recovery.

    You have a limited time to file a lawsuit and demand economic damages for your losses, so call our law offices to schedule your free consultation today.


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