[COLUMN] Maximizing recovery in personal injury cases —

Dear lawyer Tan,
I drove home and stopped completely when another driver left my car behind me. I didn’t feel well after the accident because my back was very tight and stiff. I took a few days off from work. After a week, I contacted the other driver’s insurance to report the claim. The insurance provider for the other driver said they would fix my car and offered me $ 500.00 for my injuries. Is that enough? I don’t know where to go from here. –KK

Dear KK,
The first step is to make sure that any injuries sustained in the accident are examined and treated. You can reimburse treatment costs as these are considered “economic damage” that you suffered as a result of the accident. You can also recover as “economic damage” for a time off, even if you have taken paid time off or sick days.
Economic damage means “objectively verifiable monetary losses, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, funeral expenses, loss of use of property, costs of repair or replacement, costs of obtaining domestic replacement services, loss of employment, and loss of business or employment opportunities . “Civil Code Section 1431.2 (b) (1). A person’s right to economic damages, apart from medical costs, is often overlooked and not pursued by individuals who settle their accidents themselves or with the help of inexperienced legal counsel.

Loss of earnings are often an integral part of an injured person’s right to economic compensation. Damages can be reimbursed for both past and future lost profits. In order to make up for any past loss of income, a person must provide evidence of the amount of income or income that they have lost so far. In order to receive compensation for future income, a person must provide evidence of the amount of income or income that they are reasonably likely to lose in the future as a result of the injury. CACI No. 3903C.

How are past loss of earnings proven? Medical records showing that the doctor approves a dismissal from work or gives instructions to limit work activity can aid in time taken from work due to the injury. Medical providers usually do not offer dismissal from work for the self-employed. However, the medical records should include the work restrictions set by the medical provider.

After showing that the exemption was warranted, the next step is to assess the lost revenue. A letter from an individual’s employer detailing the time they lost due to their injury, the loss of performance, and the pay during the loss is evidence of the value of the loss of earnings claim. Other receipts are pay slips, time cards and tax returns. The monetary value of sick leave and vacation time used due to the injury are also reimbursable. For the self-employed, the profit history, which is reflected in tax returns and profit and loss accounts, can help prove the value of the lost income. Similar evidence must be provided for future loss of earnings.

Apart from economic damage, you can claim “general damage” which is damage due to pain, suffering and inconvenience due to the accident.

If you have been injured in a car accident or in a building, please contact our office to discuss your case. To maximize financial recovery, it is important to have the assistance of an experienced attorney in filing your personal injury claim.

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Darrick V. Tan, Esq. is licensed to practice in California and Nevada. Mr. Tan is a graduate of UCLA and Southwestern University School of Law. He is a member of the Los Angeles Consumers Attorney Association (CAALA) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He is a past member of the Board of Governors of the Philippine American Bar Association (PABA). DARRICK V. TAN law firms, 3580 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 900, Los Angeles, CA 90010. Tel: 323-639-0277. Email: [email protected].

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