Loses Recoverable in Personal Injury Cases
In a personal injury suit in California, an injured can recover damages sustained in an accident. But what if your chance of getting these damages becomes impossible? Keep on reading to know more.
What Personal Injury Damages Can You Recover?
Plaintiffs can recover both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages are amounts that can be easily calculated. It includes:
- Lost Wages
- Property Damage
- Medical Bills
- Amounts paid out-of-pocket by the plaintiff for expenses after an accident
- Non-economic damages are real and cannot easily be quantified. It includes:
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful Death
- Loss of Companionship
- Lost Quality of Life
Damages can also be either compensatory or punitive.
Most damages in a personal injury suit are compensatory in nature. The award is designed to place plaintiffs roughly in the same position they would have enjoyed had there been no accident. The amount of a medical bill, plus interest, might be an example of a compensatory damage award.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant has engaged in reckless or outrageous behavior. In such cases, the judge and jury award extra damages in an effort to punish the defendant as a means of discouraging such behavior in the future.
Can Contributory Negligence Defeat Recoverable Damages?
Under the rule of contributory negligence, a plaintiff could not recover if they were even the slightest bit at fault in a personal injury accident. In California, the contributory negligence rule was followed based upon a reading of a statute from 1872, which seemed to indicate that a personal injury plaintiff could recover all the damages claimed, or nothing at all.
It may seem like a very harsh rule, and various doctrines, including the last clear chance doctrine, were used to circumvent some of the stricter aspects of the law and allow a plaintiff to recover damages.
In 1975, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state would no longer follow the contributory negligence rule. Instead, the state court adopted the comparative fault doctrine, allowing plaintiffs to recover even if they were partially at fault in the accident, but reducing the award by the percentage that their negligence contributed to their injuries.
Under the contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff can still recover some amount in a California personal injury suit for injuries suffered in an accident.
If you have been injured in an accident and are considering pursuing a damage claim, you may wish to consult a Roseville personal injury lawyer for clarification of the rules for recovery in California.
What Is the Last Clear Chance Doctrine?
The ‘last clear chance’ doctrine was a legal rule used in states having contributory negligence defenses to personal injury cases. The ‘last clear chance’ doctrine is sometimes called the rule of ‘last opportunity.’
Under the ‘last clear chance doctrine,’ a plaintiff who was otherwise negligent could still win the personal injury suit and recover damages if the defendant had the last opportunity to avoid the accident and so avoid injuring the plaintiff.
In order to win under the last clear chance doctrine, the plaintiffs must be able to show the following:
- That they were in a situation of danger through their own negligence
- That the plaintiff could not avoid the danger because of the negligence of the defendant
- That the defendant had actual knowledge of the danger and could reasonably avoid the accident with the use of ordinary care
- That even though the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the danger, they failed to do so
- That the negligence of the defendant was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
The last clear chance doctrine was a rule designed to provide some rough equity for injured plaintiffs under the seemingly harsh all-or-nothing system of contributory negligence.
At the Manzoor Law Firm, we often represent clients seeking to recover damages after a personal injury or accident. If you live in the Sacramento area and have been injured and want to retain the services of an experienced Roseville personal injury attorney, contact us today for a consultation.