Sometimes, the key to obtaining a positive result in your injury case is proving that the person or entity you sued was liable. You argue they were… they argue they weren’t… and your ability to obtain much-needed compensation hangs in the balance.
Other times, though, the defense admits that they were liable. When that happens, you “have it made,” right? Not necessarily. Sometimes, the key to success isn’t necessarily about establishing liability, it is about getting an award of damages that fully and fairly addresses the extensive damages you’ve suffered. Proving damages is often the most important part of an injury case, and doing so effectively is one of the essential reasons why your case needs the skill of an experienced Oakland truck accident attorney.
Take, as an example, the case of C.W.H., a woman injured in a Southern California crash. The Signal reported that, as C.W.H. passed through a green light at a Santa Clarita intersection, she was t-boned by the driver of a food processing company’s box truck. The truck driver told police that he was “half asleep” when the accident took place and that he had run the red light, according to the report.
The food processing company didn’t contest liability. However, it still mounted an aggressive defense, arguing that the injuries the 62-year-old woman had suffered were not nearly as extensive as she had claimed in court.
After all the evidence was presented, the jury sided with the injured woman. Although the woman had proof of specific injuries and medical harm she’d suffered, it was not her past or future medical expenses that was the key to her compensation. The total amount of economic damages, which includes things like lost earnings and medical expenses, was less than 20% of the total award.
The key to this driver’s successful litigation was her proof of non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are less readily quantifiable, though no less real, than economic damages. They include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, having your level of enjoyment of life diminished, and having the quality of your relationships with loved ones diminished.
There are actually many ways that an injured person can go about proving her non-economic damages. She can testify and she can call loved ones to testify about how the accident has changed her. For example, if her injuries have altered the nature of her intimate relationship with her spouse, that is something that can be compensated within the realm of non-economic damages.
Medical evidence may help here, too. If your injury caused you to begin suffering panic attacks, anxiety or depression (or substantially worsened conditions you already had,) then testimony from your medical professional about that may further increase your amount of non-economic damages.
In C.W.H.’s case, her evidence was enough to persuade the jury that she had suffered $1 million in past non-economic damages and would suffer an additional $4 million in non-economic damages in the future.
Another thing that can help, and is a key area where experienced legal counsel is a huge plus, is making a statutory offer of settlement. Once you make this kind of settlement offer that qualifies under Section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the onus is on the defense to accept or reject it. If the defense rejects your offer and, at the end of your trial, the jury awards you an amount greater than 125% of the settlement offer, then you can recover additional amounts, such as pre-judgment interest.
According to The Signal, C.W.H. offered $1 million. The defense rejected it and the jury ultimately awarded the injured woman $6.1 million. That meant that the jury award was more than six times (600%) what the settlement offer was, so this woman was entitled to that additional interest, costs and fees. When those were tacked on, the total amount the defense owed was more than $7.3 million.
Whether it is making an offer to settle, weighing a settlement offer from the other side, proving the extent of your damages or any of the countless other vital tasks that go into an injury case, be sure you have the reliable advice and advocacy you need from the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Attorney Fuerch is an experienced Oakland truck accident attorney with a long track record of helping injured Californians as they seek justice and the compensation they deserve. To learn more about how we can help, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.