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Suing for Pain and Suffering? 5 Things You Need to Know

In high-profile personal injury cases, pain and suffering typically accounts for a large percentage of the settlement award. Recovering from an injury can undoubtedly be a long and painful process. In some cases, the emotional distress can be more painful and debilitating than the physical injury.

Seeking compensation for your suffering is not unreasonable, but this area of recovery isn’t as black and white as others.

If you plan to include pain and suffering in your personal injury claim, there are a few things you should know.

1. Hiring a Lawyer Will Improve Your Chances of Success

Personal injury cases of any kind are complex, but adding in pain and suffering – which is subjective – complicates matters even further. Some personal injury cases also go to trial, and you may not get the outcome you want if you represent yourself.

Hiring a skilled and experienced lawyer to take on your case will increase your chances of success.

A lawyer will also help you calculate pain and suffering damages properly, so you get a fair settlement.

Whether you were injured in a car accident or bit by the neighborhood dog, it’s typically in your best interest to hire a lawyer when filing a claim.

2. Calculating Pain and Suffering Can Be Complex

It’s difficult to put a value on a person’s mental and emotional well-being because it’s purely subjective. Two people can be involved in the same accident and suffer the same injuries, but one person may suffer more emotional trauma than the other.

Examples of pain and suffering include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction

In some cases, these conditions require both medication and counseling over the long-term.

Emotional injuries are far less black and white than physical injuries, but attorneys and insurance companies have their own methods for calculating pain and suffering damages.

Insurance companies typically use computer programs to determine how much a claimant should receive for pain and suffering. These programs will consider, among many other factors, the following economic damages:

  • Cost of medical treatment
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage

Once the economic damages have been calculated, a multiplier (between 1.5 and 5) will be used to determine your pain and suffering. The more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier.

Let’s say you accumulate $8,000 in medical bills for your injuries. That number may be multiplied by three, which would value your pain and suffering at $24,000.

While the multiplier method is common, insurers are not obligated to calculate your settlement this way. They may use their own method to determine the value of your pain and suffering.

Insurers will also consider other factors that you may not consider. Injuries treated by a specialist, for example, are likely to be considered more serious than injuries treated by a chiropractor.

Insurance companies may also say, “Hey, you didn’t really need that last appointment with your doctor, so we’re going to remove that from the treatment timeline.”

The entire process of calculating pain and suffering is complicated, and is best handled by an experienced professional.

3. Insurance Companies Will Try to Low-Ball You

Insurance companies are just like any other business – they have a bottom line to protect. It’s rare for insurers to offer a fair settlement without at least a little negotiation.

It’s in the insurer’s best interest to try and convince you that their low-ball settlement offer is fair. The insurance company is not on your side, so go into this process with that in mind.

Insurance companies do recognize that when their party is at fault, the injured party does deserve some compensation for their pain and suffering. But they typically try to offer a very low figure at first to see if the injured party will take it and walk away.

4. Some States Have Limits on Pain and Suffering Damages

Some states have laws that limit pain and suffering damages, but most do not. It’s also important to note that there are no federal limits on this type of recovery.

States that do have caps on pain and suffering compensatory damages include:

  • California: $250,000
  • New Hampshire: $875,000
  • Ohio: $250,000
  • Maryland: $350,000

These limits typically only apply to products liability and medical malpractice cases.

Many states also give you the option to choose between limited tort and full tort auto insurance policies. Choosing limited tort will save you money on your monthly premiums, but by choosing this option, you waive your right to sue for pain and suffering. In this case, you would not be able to include pain and suffering in your claim.

5. Proving Pain and Suffering is Challenging

Pain and suffering is subjective. You can’t measure mental anguish, and it generally does not exhibit physical symptoms. Physical pain is subjective for the very same reasons.

Proving pain and suffering can be a serious challenge. How do you prove the existence and the degree of trauma or pain to a jury?

While not as concrete as a physical injury, there are ways to support pain and suffering claims. These include:

  • Diaries and journals kept by the victim, which document pain levels, trauma, anxiety and/or other related injuries.
  • Testimonies of family and friends, which can attest to the effects of the injury on the victim’s life.
  • Written report and/or testimony from a psychologist or counselor who treated the victim.

Testimony is often the most effective way to prove pain and suffering, especially if a psychologist is willing to testify.

Insurance companies will do their best to rebut these sources. For example, they may use photo and text updates on Facebook to prove that the victim was still out enjoying life, despite his or her claim. They may also call on their own experts to refute claims made by the plaintiff.

Proving pain and suffering is by no means an easy task, but it can be done. High-dollar settlements often include a fair amount of compensation for emotional trauma and physical pain. The key to getting the compensation you deserve is finding an attorney with the experience and aggressive approach needed to fight for the settlement you deserve.

Driving and Cell Phone Laws in California

With distracted driving reaching dangerous levels, California has enacted several laws that restrict or prohibit the use of mobile devices when behind the wheel. These laws are a part of a growing nationwide trend to limit cell phone use while driving, particularly among new drivers.

Evidence suggests that drivers using cell phones are more distracted, which greatly increases the risk of an accident.

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) says drivers are texting and talking at a combined rate of 9% at any given time.

To drive safely and legally, it’s important to understand the cell phone law in California.

The Hands-Free Law

Drivers over the age of 18 are permitted to use hands-free phones while driving. These drivers are free to use Bluetooth and other earpieces, but they may not cover both ears.

Drivers who are over the age of 18 may also use speaker phone to talk while behind the wheel.

When using hands-free and voice-activated operation, the device must be mounted to:

  • The dashboard
  • A 7″ square in the lower corner of the passenger side of the windshield
  • A 5″ square in the lower corner of the driver’s side of the windshield

For drivers under the age of 18, the law is far more restrictive. These drivers may not use a wireless phone, pager, laptop or any other type of electronic communication device to talk or text while driving. This restriction applies to both handheld and hands-free devices.

The only exception to this rule is if drivers are using a wireless device in an emergency situation to call the police or an ambulance.

The penalties for violating the hands-free law are:

  • $20 for the first offense
  • $50 for each subsequent offense

Assessments will increase the costs of the penalties. With assessments included, a first-time offender will likely pay more than $150 in fines.

The restrictions on hands-free devices for minors is a secondary violation, which means an officer cannot pull over a driver simply for this infraction. An officer can cite a driver for this violation if the driver is pulled over for another reason.

The Handheld Phone Ban

California law bans all use of handheld mobile phones while driving, and this law applies to all drivers in the state – even those who do not live there.

Like any other law, there are a few exceptions in which handheld phone use is permitted. These include:

  • Emergency calls to medical providers, police, the local fire department and other emergency service agencies.
  • People operating vehicles on private property.
  • People operating authorized emergency vehicles.

The penalties for violating the handheld phone ban include:

  • $20 for the first offense
  • $50 for each subsequent offense

Assessments will increase the costs of the penalties. With assessments included, a first-time offender will likely pay more than $150 in fines.

The handheld device ban is a primary violation, so an officer can pull you over purely for this infraction.

The Texting While Driving Ban

California has a separate law for texting while driving. Drivers are prohibited from using a wireless phone to write, send or read text messages while behind the wheel.

There are a few exceptions to the rule:

  • Using voice-operated, hands-free mode.
  • Operating a system that’s embedded into the vehicle by the manufacturer.
  • Using a single swipe or tap to turn a GPS system on or off.

Emergency services personnel are exempt from the law while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

Drivers under the age of 18 may not text while driving, even in hands-free, voice-operated mode. The lone exception is when making an emergency call.

The penalty for texting while driving is the same as those for using handheld phones.



A Victim of a Lyft Or Uber Car Accident May Be Entitled To Personal Injury Compensation

With so much traffic clogging up the roads in big cities like San Diego it didn’t take long before Lyft and Uber establish their services in the city. They are friendlier versions of taxis and require a comradely relationship between the driver and passengers. They offer a cheaper service than taxis and if you want to use a vehicle your downloadable app will tell you which one is closest to you at the time.

You don’t need to pay cash as you can set up an account with your chosen provider who then deducts the cost of your ride after it’s over. This seems quite simple and very convenient if you need to get to some place in a hurry, or you know they will be no parking available to you at a particular place for your own car.

Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Actually Safe?

In a bid to ensure that a rider can trust their drivers Lyft at least has put their drivers through a screening process which includes:

  • searching through all the state’s sex offending registers;
  • interviewing a potential driver by a current driver;
  • holding a driver’s license for no less than one year;
  • zero tolerance towards drugs and alcohol.

In addition to this, because of the virtual nature of the service, riders are able to rate their ride experience and if the rating is too low the driver will be taken off the list.

Who pays compensation in an accident?

Lyft drivers aren’t immune from accidents, but even though they aren’t employed as such but are classed as independent contractors, Lyft insures every driver with a million dollar liability cover. The California Vehicle Code Section 5430 insists that on top of that there is underinsured/uninsured cover for one million dollars, just in case an accident happens and the at-fault driver in the other vehicle has no insurance.

If you are involved in an accident in a Lyft vehicle you can claim compensation for medical treatment, loss of earnings and pain and suffering. If the amount held under the Lyft insurance is not sufficient, you can claim from the driver’s insurance too, if he or she has liability cover. The $1 million in insurance coverage is applicable from the time the driver accepts your request for a ride request on until the driver completes the transaction on the app or the ride is complete, whichever comes last.

If the Uber/ Lyft driver was not at-fault you should be able to file a compensation claim against the other driver. San Diego drivers must carry insurance. But as no one can guarantee that any other driver has insurance many drivers do take out uninsured motorist cover.

Damages available in a San Diego Uber/Lyft accident

These include:

  • past & future pain and suffering and physical impairment
  • past & future hospital, medical rehabilitation & disability expenses
  • past financial losses including loss of wages or salary and the value of property damaged
  • loss of income into the future due to long-term disablement
  • punitive damages to cover negligence
  • wrongful death if the lawsuit is filed by the family of a person who has died


Hire an attorney to help you win compensation

You may think it sounds easy to get the compensation you deserve but insurers rarely want to pay up entitlements and can be very obstructive.  They make it particularly difficult if you don’t have an experienced San Diego attorney to represent you such as Robert Hamparyan at the Hamparyan Injury Lawyers who has a vast amount of experience handling cases like yours.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an Uber/ Lyft accident in San Diego don’t hesitate to book a free consultation at the Hamparyan Injury Lawyers. One of their attorneys will assess your eligibility for personal injury compensation and will work aggressively until a satisfactory settlement has been negotiated. If you are unable to come to the office because your injuries prevent you from doing so Robert will come to your home instead.

E-Cigarettes May Cause Life Changing Facial Lacerations and Poisoning

Many people who make the unfortunate mistake of taking up cigarette smoking when they are young are suddenly confronted with an addiction problem when they find it’s almost impossible to give up instantly or when they choose. Even frightening advertising and constant warnings about the illnesses that could develop if smoking is continued for long periods aren’t typically enough to dissuade smokers from kicking the habit. As a result e-cigarettes were born.

What is an e-cigarette?

If you don’t already know you can probably work out exactly what an e-cigarette is, especially if you know how hard it is to give up the habit of smoking once you have already started the habit. The key ingredient of an e-cigarette is typically nicotine. It’s the unnoticeable substance that causes your addiction. So e-cigarettes were born as it appeared that they were a good way of getting rid of harmful tobacco while offering the user the pleasurable drug effects of nicotine.

Do e-cigarettes really act as a good substitute for cigarettes?

Recent research has indicated that what comes out of these e-cigarettes is almost as dangerous as the products from tobacco based cigarettes themselves.

Risks from e-cigarette use

The sorts of known harm from this combination of products are:

  • explosions from defective batteries
  • nicotine poisoning
  • lung disease caused by the flavored juice of the nicotine
  • defective components and toxic substances in the vaporizer

E-Cigarette explosions are caused by what is called the atomizer or heating element. This heating device gets its power from a rechargeable lithium battery. This vaporizes a solution which starts out in liquid form and is made up of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and nicotine. It’s both the explosions and the combination of products found in the vaporized solution which can cause harm to users.

Nicotine poisoning real threat

There are 2 types of nicotine poisoning, one of which takes place within 15 minutes of exposure leading to vomiting. After an exposure of 30 minutes to 4 hours depression may be the result and even more exposure could lead to death suddenly if not treated. 50 to 60 mg could kill an adult.

Statistics of injuries from e-cigarettes

Looking at the United States alone, from 2009 to 2014, 25 e-cigarette users were harmed by an exploding e-cigarette. Doctors based at the University of Washington state that they are being confronted with at least 2 patients every month because of e-cigarette defects. Some of the clearest reasons identified for these sudden explosions are defects in the lithium ion batteries. Of course, not all explosions get reported, so this could be the tip of the iceberg.

There was a case recently of a Hollywood producer who while flying from Denver to LA found that an e-cigarette exploded without warning. There have been incidences of the outbreak of house fires leading to the complete destruction of homes with the cause linked to exploding e-cigarettes. In 2015, throughout the country at poison control centers, there were 1,073 nicotine over-exposures reported that were related to the use of vape fluids and electronic cigarettes. Most victims really believed that e-cigarettes were better for them than traditional cigarettes and their use wouldn’t inflict any damage.

In other incidences, the device has spontaneously exploded in the users’ hands or pockets leading to damaging injuries. This seems to be related to the fact that the batteries are cylindrical and when pressure builds in the battery quickly the e-cigarette becomes ruptured at its weakest point, propelling the battery so fast that it attains speeds similar to those found in a gun.

Types of injuries from a vape explosion include:
  • groin or thigh injuries
  • hand injuries
  • 1 in 5 injuries affect the face including damage to teeth and facial lacerations
The manufacture of e-cigarettes: the key to the problem

It is quite normal to test products thoroughly before they are released out into the market. Unfortunately though, not all e-cigarette products are tested sufficiently and they haven’t necessarily been engineered well enough to eliminate the possibility of a serious health hazard emerging.

Poor quality batteries often used

Lithium-ion batteries are composed of layers of metallic cathode and anode material which are separated by a porous film. This porous film encases a liquid electrolyte made of lithium salts and an organic solvent placed in a cylindrical metal that is sealed to keep the liquid electrolyte sealed inside.

All electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries are usually flammable and if a battery fails due to over-heating it can catch fire and explode suddenly. Over-charging or short circuiting or even heat from external sources can cause an explosion. E-cigarettes which are overcharged seem to be a common reason for overheating and explosions. Only too often there is an internal defect in the battery which causes an explosion unexpectedly. This only happens in poor quality, cheaply made batteries – not good quality ones.

Unfortunately, manufacturers and retailers may knowingly use poor quality batteries and put lives of consumers in danger. It is in these situations where victims are faced with huge medical bills, serious life-altering injuries and financial hardship from loss of earnings.

Victims injured by an e-cigarette may be entitled to compensation

It is a legal requirement that manufacturers ensure that products released on to the market are free from potential dangers. If an accident occurs which could have been prevented had the manufacturer been more careful, the victim may be entitled to file a personal injury compensation claim to cover the financial hardships caused by the injuries.

In Washington recently, 4 victims of injuries received from poorly designed e-cigarettes are filing lawsuits against manufacturers and retailers for injuries received which include 2nd and 3rd degree burns which have required endless amounts of reconstructive surgery to try to restore the effects of the damage. Class actions have also been filed in the state of California for the same reasons.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to hire an attorney

If you believe you have received life-threatening injuries from e-cigarette use don’t delay. Hire our personal injury law firm who will help to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. The amount calculated will cover the cost of medical treatment including cosmetic surgery if you have severe facial damage, loss of earnings and pain and suffering you have endured.

School Yard Injuries Can Attract Personal Injury Claims

It often takes a lot for you as a parent to finally let go of your child when he or she has reached school age and you are no longer responsible throughout the day to meet everyday needs.  The last thing you could ever imagine happening is your child getting injured while you are not present.  Unfortunately this happens far too often so you cannot always be assured that your child is safe in your chosen school’s hands.

Typically, most schools have more than sufficient school yard protocols regarding their charges’ safety in place. School staff members go through enough training to minimize the chance of your child being injured. However, there are times when an accident or injury can unexpectedly take place. Your child may slip and fall on an object that shouldn’t have been there or another child could cause an injury through an aggressive action.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has revealed that emergency rooms throughout the country treat a huge number of children (200,000 annually) for injuries that have taken place in the school yard. These statistics don’t include injuries that occur in sports.

If your child is injured and requires hospital treatment it can be daunting for you if you have to confront your child’s school board or principal because you believe that negligence on behalf of a member of staff caused the injury.  You should not sit back and take the financial burden of an injury that you know wasn’t your child’s fault but seek the help from a personal injury attorney who will assess your chances of winning a compensation claim to cover the financial hardship you may have to bear.

Children Who are Most at Risk

The CDC recently indicated that the younger the child the greater the chance an injury is likely to take place in a school yard with the greatest incidence being among those aged 5 to 9. Girls have more chance of being injured than boys.

The Cause of School Yard Injuries

These include:

  • accumulation of Snow and ice
  • faulty playground equipment
  • collisions with other children
  • assaults from other children
  • sports injuries

The sorts of hazards that children most often encounter, in winter at least, are those caused by excessive ice and snow in the yard. The school is responsible for removing any dangerous amounts of these substances to ensure the children can move around freely without being injured. If the school yard is not safe it is the school’s responsibility to ensure the children are unable to access the facility until it has been made safe to use.

Apart from slips and falls on ice and snow, equipment failure has been cited as a cause of accidents too. Schools often have trampolines, swings and seesaws to keep their children amused. However, if any of the equipment is faulty or has not received the necessary maintenance by school employees any injuries might be down to the school’s administration. Overall, 67% of injuries in school yards are caused by slips and falls and failure of yard equipment. There are also a number of injuries caused by children colliding while at play. Bullying and physical assaults have been on the increase in recent years in school yards leading to both mental and physical traumas. If these things happen staff paid to be supervisors may be liable for any injuries.

Sports injuries are far more common than you may think as when a young athlete is hit by another in a game they won’t speak out and often hide any injuries even serious ones like concussion.  A recent children’s hospital in Ohio reported that fewer than 50% of athletes in high schools report their concussion. Additionally, when children are left to continue playing after an injury their coaches or schools could be held accountable due to negligence for not putting the welfare of their children first.

Signs of a School Yard Injury and What You Should Do

If you have detected that your child has been injured while at school you should ensure medical treatment is sought as soon as possible. Your child’s school may have contacted you about the injury. You should ensure that you keep records of the time and content of any phone calls related to your child’s injury and any correspondence either through email or U.S. post. This applies to bullying of your child too. You should be keeping an eye on your child to ensure no bullying is taking place as the school is responsible to ensure that your child is not injured either mentally or physically while under their care.

If one of your children has been injured at school and needs to receive medical treatment which keeps him or her away from the classroom for a while and you believe the school was negligent in failing to provide ‘’duty of care’’ you might be entitled to file a claim for compensation to cover the medical costs of an injury that was not your child’s fault.

How to Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer

You may have shortlisted a number of personal injury lawyers from either web searches or recommendations from family and friends. No one personal injury case is the same so you will have to do some of your own groundwork before reaching the point of hiring someone.

Experience is Vital When Choosing the Right Lawyer

You should check to see how much experience your short listed lawyers have. Experience can make or break a personal injury claim as well as determine the damages you receive. Selecting an enthusiastic, experienced lawyer in your type of injury will go a long way to ensure a settlement is reached.

If your case is likely to involve a large amount of money because your injuries are disabling and life-changing, you don’t want your case drawn out for years. If this happens it will not allow you or your family to benefit from the claim. In the meantime you have to pay for all your medical costs and rehab, all because you did not make a wise choice when choosing the right personal injury attorney.

Check for Successful Claims Reached by the Personal Injury Lawyer

One way of checking how good your shortlisted personal injury lawyers are is by checking the value of settlements they have won and how long it took them to reach the settlements. You certainly don’t want to choose a lawyer who has gone through the process of filing personal injury claims and lost them at the last minute. You need a lawyer who is born to succeed and testimonials from happy clients provide you with that sort of evidence. You should compare each lawyer to help you make a wise choice.

Asking Questions Will Help you Reach a Decision

There is nothing wrong with live discussions with your shortlisted lawyers. Give each of them a call and fire questions at them such as, what was your last successful personal injury settlement and how much did you win? A lawyer who doesn’t stumble with the answers should be promoted to the top of your list. Lawyers who won’t give you the time of day aren’t worth considering. In the long run it’s their loss and your gain. Don’t side-line the impact a successful claim will have on your life and this should help you arrive at a decision when choosing the best lawyer.

Cost Is Not Important When Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is not cheap in normal situations but personal injury law is different. You don’t normally need to worry about the cost of a personal injury lawyer as it is your legal right to be compensated for the financial burden caused by injuries that were not your fault.

Most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis which means you as a victim of a personal injury does not need to worry about paying upfront fees. This also means that the lawyer you choose will do his or her utmost to ensure a successful settlement. If this is not reached and the claim ends up in court the lawyer is compelled to pay any legal and court fees if the settlement request fails.

It is normal policy for a personal injury attorney to include his or her legal fees in any personal injury claim so that it is deducted from the settlement before it is paid out to you. You don’t need to compare fees when choosing the best personal injury lawyer, base your choice on who you think you can best communicate with and will win the best settlement in the shortest period of time.

Keep to the Statute of Limitations when Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney

Often with serious injuries it takes time for the victim to regain his or her senses and realize the true impact of the injuries. However, once you have recovered you shouldn’t wait too long before choosing a lawyer to file your personal injury claim.  Most states have a statute of limitations restricting the time you are given from the onset of your injuries to the time of filing your personal injury claim and this is usually 2 to 3 years depending on the state. If you are suing a state organization the statute of limitations may even be only six months from the date of the injury.

Hit and Run Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Running away from a motor vehicle accident is an illegal act in California and in fact any other state. The California Vehicle Code Sections, 20001 and 20002 state that those involved in a motor vehicle accident where injury and property damage have taken place are required to stop and remain at the scene of the accident. They are required to provide their contact information to any other driver involved. If a vehicle is damaged and the owner is not present, the driver causing the damage is required by law to leave a note that can be seen easily with contact information.

Despite the legal requirements, hit and run accidents are common events. Every year in California, according to the California Highway Patrol, there are more than 14,000 injuries that have happened because of a hit and run incident. Added to this statistic is the fact that approximately 11% of crashes reported to police involve a hit and run driver and there are 1,500 fatalities in hit and run accidents annually. Pedestrians make up close to 60% of victims of this type of accident and 20% of pedestrian fatalities involve hit and run accident events.

Any Evidence is Useful in a Hit and Run Accident

In most hit and run accidents, it is usually difficult for a victim to identify the vehicle driver who caused the accident. If you were seriously injured, taking the license plate number, the make and model of the vehicle may have been impossible. However, this does not necessarily mean you are never able to get hold of any witnesses. If the accident took place in an urban area security cameras may have taken footage of the accident which may help to identify the driver. The police should be contacted as they may not have tried to search for and apprehend the driver unless you ask them to. They may have evidence on CCTV cameras with the license number plate of the offending vehicle.

Your Own Insurance May Cover You

If you find you are not able to establish the identity of the hit and run driver, it may still be possible to recover compensation through your own insurer. It is a legal requirement that insurance companies offer an auto policy cover for an uninsured motorist causing accident and injury.

If you chose this option when you took out your policy it may help you to get full compensation for the costs of your injuries. Coverage for an uninsured driver includes accidents caused by hit and run drivers.  There are caps on the amount of money your insurer is required to pay you. In California, for example, this includes $15,000 for each person for bodily injury, $30,000 for the whole accident and only $3,500 for damage to property. You may get more if you had elected for a higher coverage rate for these types of accidents depending on the nature of damage and injury.

In addition, if you selected coverage for medical costs to cover you for any bodily injury, regardless of who is at fault, or vehicle damage as well, you may find you are able to use this cover to relieve your financial burden of your injuries.

You Will Need a Personal Injury Attorney

No insurer ever wants to settle, even if you are adequately insured and have paid all the necessary premiums up to the date of the hit and run accident. Many insurance adjusters spend a lot of time trying to reduce the value of your claim by saying the evidence provided is not sufficient to justify it.

A good personal injury attorney understands the tactics used by insurers and can present evidence and argument to convince the person or company to pay your entitlements. If you are a pedestrian who has been injured in a hit and run you should still consult a personal injury attorney who may be able to find witnesses who saw the accident and uncover any CCTV footage at your accident that may be reveal the identity of the driver that caused your injuries.

Calculating Damages in a California Personal Injury Claim

Typically, most personal injury claims are pursued in a civil court. They involve financial compensation for somebody who was injured in an accident due to the negligent actions of another person. This type of financial settlement for a personal injury is known as damages.

Compensatory Damages

There are two parties involved in a damages claim. The plaintiff is the person injured while the defendant is the person or persons who allegedly caused the accident. Most personal injury settlements are for compensatory damages. As the name implies, these compensate the accident victim for the financial burden of the injuries.

The sorts of losses covered by compensatory damages include both property loss such as damage to an auto in an accident and the financial burden incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the injury. This could include hospital costs, loss of earnings while recovering, home care if required, missed opportunities, emotional suffering, trauma and pain from long-term injuries. Compensatory damages also include losses into the future such as prolonged medical treatment and care in the years ahead even if you never fully recover.

A Personal Injury Lawyer is Important

Personal injury law is complex. If you are injured in an accident, such as a car crash on a highway, a slip and fall in a shopping mall or you were hit by a falling object from a construction site, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. The layer will assess your eligibility to file a personal injury claim against the person, company or organization who caused your accident. Almost all accidents that are not the victim’s fault may be eligible for compensatory damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer has the knowledge and experience to negotiate the best possible damages settlement.

Punitive Damages

These do not always become part of a personal injury claim. When a civil court looks at the case and finds that the defendant caused the accident through negligence, punitive damages can be incorporated into the final settlement. This financial penalty directed at the defendant is aimed at deterring whoever was too blame from any further malicious behavior in the future that is considered morally reprehensible. Punitive damages normally becomes part of a settlement if a jury hearing a case against a defendant finds that the person brought about the injuries to the plaintiff intentionally, maliciously or due to reckless behavior.

How are Punitive Damages Calculated?

These are more difficult to evaluate compared to compensatory damages. The latter can be calculated based on documentary evidence such as medical reports and lost wages calculations.

However, with punitive damages there are a number of factors that are considered including:

  • how much money the defendant has;
  • the nature of the wrongdoing committed by the defendant;
  • the effect on the plaintiff of the defendant’s action;
  • the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff;
  • the defendant’s motivation to cause injury;
  • awareness of the amount of harm caused;
  • the length of the misconduct of the defendant;
  • whether there was any attempt by the defendant to hide the misconduct;
  • the expense to the plaintiff to recover any losses;
  • whether the defendant gained financially in any way;
  • whether the punitive damages settlement should be more than the cash amount gained.

There are other important factors, such as whether the defendant has acted in this way before and if he or she has ever tried to make amends for the damage that has been caused.

The reason for awarding punitive damages is to help the plaintiff return to the state he or she was in before the accident happened. This of course in the case of injuries that cause quadriplegia it’s impossible for the victim to restore his or her life to normal but the courts will go as far as they can in ensuring the victim’s life reaches as close to normality as is possible. Typically in California there is a cap on non economic damages. The cap is pegged at an amount a single digit multiple of the compensatory or economic damages. The multiple is determined by the court depending on an analysis of the factors listed above, but is never more than 9.

Personal injury law can at times be quite confusing. If you have been injured in any type of accident and it was not your fault, you shouldn’t wait any longer. Contact Robert Hamparyan at the Law Offices of Robert Hamparyan in San Diego, who will ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Negotiates Your Claim

Successful personal injury lawyers like Robert Hamparyan understand how to persuasively negotiate a fair personal injury claim with insurance adjusters who represent clients who have been blamed for causing personal injury.

In many ways, the negotiation process may seem rather similar to old-fashioned haggling at a market place. The plaintiff’s lawyer will have done a full costing to establish exactly what the injury has cost their client to date and how much it may cost in the future. This is particularly important if the accident victim is unlikely to fully recover, as ongoing medical support and treatment, as well as lost income, must be fully accounted for if the plaintiff is not to suffer financially.

Meanwhile, the insurer will make an attempt to keep the amount they may have to pay as little as possible. In fact, if there is any gap in the amount of supporting evidence then the insurer will usually try to get the claim dismissed altogether. The defendant may claim that he or she did not cause the injury or that the plaintiff’s injury was not the result of the accident (typically, it may be claimed that it was a prior injury), or that the amount asked for is unreasonable.

There will be several rounds of negotiations before a final settlement is agreed on, if at all. In most cases the settlement will take place without going to court. However, in a minority of cases with the defendant or their insurer playing hardball, the lawyer may decide to take the case to court.

What influences a claim award?

The likely success of the claim and the final amount awarded will depend on a number of different variables.

  • How convincing the available evidence is that an accident was linked to the plaintiff’s injury.
  • How convincing is the evidence that a particular individual, company or other body was liable for the accident, i.e. caused the accident.
  • Whether full medical records are available documenting the nature of the injury confirmation of how it might have been caused, the estimated date of the injury.
  • Clear documentation showing the extent of economic damages, principally medical expenses and lost income.
  • How experienced the lawyer is in preparing the claim and pursuing the negotiating phase.
  • Any state limitations imposed on the claim such as a cap on the amount awarded and the time period in which the claim must be made. See below for more detail about this.
Limitations on Claim Awards in California

Every state handles personal injury claims slightly differently. If you are pursuing someone who you think has injured you through negligence, then you should be aware of the limitations imposed by California on how much you can claim and how long this can be after an accident has taken place. It is most likely that you have chosen an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim like Robert Hamparyan of the San Diego based Hamparyan Law Firm. He will be able to explain what these limitations are and suggest what you should demand that comply with California law yet answer your injury needs.

California imposes a cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, but does not do so for economic damages like medical expenses. The cap on non-economic damages is some single digit multiple of the amount claimed for economic damages.

To take an example, if the economic component of the claim is $40,000, and the multiple is 7, then the cap will be $280,000.

The other limitation is the period in which the plaintiff must make a claim after an injury. This is called the statute of limitations and is 2 years for private individuals or 6 months if the claim is against a government body.

Comparative negligence

In some accidents, it might happen that some degree of blame lies with the injured party. In California, the law is what is called ‘pure comparative negligence’. This means that the plaintiff is still allowed to make a claim even if they are partly to blame. The award will be based on a percentage, so, for example, if it is decided that the injured person was 40% to blame, then they will be awarded 40% of the claim amount asked for.

If you are seeking a personal injury lawyer in San Diego, you will find that Robert Hamparyan is both an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer. He works tirelessly to get the compensation you deserve and has won some outstanding awards for his clients.

Who Needs a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you have been involved in any type of accident and you believe you were not to blame, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the person who caused your accident. In order to qualify, the injury typically must be serious enough that you required hospital treatment.

In other words, a scrape to a knee or elbow in a slip and fall may not be considered severe enough to warrant filing a personal injury claim. Most victims of accidents who are seriously injured and who require extensive hospital treatment, time off work and are financially disadvantaged because of the injuries will choose to hire a personal injury lawyer to help them file a personal injury compensation claim.

The sorts of accident events that may qualify for compensation include:

  • slips and falls;
  • motorcycle accidents;
  • auto accidents;
  • truck accidents;
  • medical malpractice;
  • pedestrian accidents;
  • bicycle accidents;
  • product defects;
  • wrongful death,
The role of an insurance company in a personal injury claim

The person/organization that will most likely have to pay when a successful personal injury claim is won is the insurer of the person found to be at-fault. This makes it even more important to hire a personal injury lawyer because insurers try to devalue a claim in order to avoid paying what you rightfully deserve. A good lawyer will argue persuasively on your behalf to get the amount that you are entitled to and covers your financial hardship as a result of an injury that was not your fault.

How will your personal injury lawyer calculate

a fair amount?

There are a number of different components to consider when calculating personal injury claims, which are:

  • medical expenses since the accident took place up to full recovery;
  • loss of earnings while off work;
  • pain and suffering;
  • punitive damages.

If you have a serious accident and you lose your ability to perform normal every day activities you may need a carer to help you survive. You are not responsible for the financial costs of this type of care and a personal injury lawyer will ensure the right calculation is made with respect to both previous and ongoing medical expenses as well as any additional care you may need. If you were in a job at the time of the injury your personal injury lawyer will study medical reports and physician’s comments to determine your recovery time and even if you are never likely to return to normal working life due to your injuries your financial loss will be included in any compensation calculation. Under California’s personal injury law there are two other components to a personal injury compensation calculation one of which is a financial amount in relation to pain and suffering caused by the accident and the other is punitive damages which can be included in a compensation package if there is proof beyond doubt that the defendant deliberately caused you injury. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be regarded as negligent, as could reckless driving such as speeding and distractive driving.

Calculating comparative negligence

In California, the full responsibility for a victim’s injuries might not always lie with the person found to be at fault. If a defendant’s lawyer can somehow find even a small bit of evidence to show that you contributed to your own accident, you may have to forfeit a certain percentage of your settlement. For example, if the court finds that you were 10 percent to blame for your own accident, this is the percentage that will be deducted from the final settlement. It is in these sorts of situations that you cannot afford to be without an experienced personal injury attorney.

Time limits for settling personal injury compensation claims

Most states, including California, set time limits for filing a personal injury compensation claim. These are called statutes of limitations. If a private organisation or an individual caused your accident, you have 2 years to file that claim. If a state organization was found to be the cause of your accident, you have six months to file your claim. Your personal injury lawyer will ensure you file your claim on time.

If you are seeking a personal injury lawyer in San Diego, Robert Hamparyan is both an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer and works tirelessly to get the compensation you deserve. He also offers free consultations.