The Dominguez Firm provides the following answers to questions frequently encountered by our attorneys as we help people throughout Southern California with their personal injury or worker’s compensation claims. If you have other questions or require advice and representation in a particular legal matter, please contact The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation.
Q. What kind of compensation can I receive in my personal injury claim?
A. Generally speaking, you can recover for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include losses such as property damage, present and future medical expenses, and lost wages due to time missed from work or if your injury causes you to have a diminished earning capacity for the future. Non-economic damages are those which may not have an objective price tag attached to them, but are nonetheless very real losses. These damages include things like your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish. In some cases, depending upon the defendant’s conduct, you may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant for particularly bad behavior and serve as an example to others that such conduct is not condoned by the courts.
Q. What if I am struck by a driver who does not have insurance?
A. California state law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility sufficient to cover at least $5,000 worth of property damage and $15,000 for personal injury or death to one person or $30,000 for personal injury or death to more than one person. Despite this law, however, nearly 20% of the drivers on Los Angeles roads at any given time may be driving without liability insurance. What happens if you are hit by an uninsured driver?
If you carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage yourself, then your own insurance company should compensate you for your losses up to the amount of your policy. UM coverage is not required by law, although all insurance companies are required to offer it to you. Given the number of uninsured drivers on the road, it is certainly wise to carry as much UM insurance as you can reasonably afford – at least as much as the amount of liability insurance you are carrying.
If no insurance is involved, you may need to sue the driver directly. If successful, you may collect on your judgment through various means, such as attaching the negligent driver’s property or instituting a wage garnishment.
Q. How much can I receive in Workers’ Compensation?
A. Total Disability (TD) payments are generally figured at two-third of your gross wages at the time of your injury. Gross wages are your wages before taxes are taken out, and include income from all sources. There are also statutory minimum amounts and maximum amounts that you can make.
Q. What other benefits can I receive besides Total Disability payments?
A. You may be compensated for your medical expenses, as well as vocational rehabilitation in some cases or money for job training in others. When a person dies on the job or due to job-related condition or disease, certain dependants may be eligible for death benefits. There may be other compensation available in certain circumstances, such as if the employer willfully endangered the safety of employees, lacked workers’ compensation insurance, retaliated against you for filing a claim, or failed to deliver benefits in a timely manner.
Q. How long can I receive Total Disability payments?
A. TD benefits are available if your injury requires you to miss more than three days of work or be subjected to an overnight hospital stay. You may continue to receive payments every two weeks until you return to work, receive a release from the doctor, or your injury has reached the point where it has improved as much as it is going to. In most cases, you may be eligible to receive payments for up to 104 weeks (two years), or up to 240 weeks for certain severe or chronic conditions.