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What are Intangible Damages from a Car Accident?

After surviving a crash caused by another person’s negligence, your thoughts will likely turn to seeking compensation to cover your medical bills and the cost of replacing your car and any other property lost in the accident. However, beyond these concrete economic expenses, California law allows you to pursue non-economic damages, or intangible, damages. In order to work with your attorney effectively to determine what you might be entitled to receive you should understand what intangible damages are and what they include.

Defining intangible losses after an accident

With regards to the aftermath of an automobile accident, your tangible losses will be fairly obvious—physical injuries like broken bones and the loss of actual property, such as your vehicle. However, when it comes to intangible losses, they might be harder to pin down and will depend on the specific facts of your case. Some of the most common claims for intangible losses include the following:

  • Physical pain stemming from injuries
  • Suffering that results from the accident (physical, mental, and/or emotional)
  • Loss of ability to enjoy and participate in normal activities, relationships, and lifestyles
  • Difficulties performing the activities of daily life
  • Inability to continue pursuing previous plans for your future

The subjective nature of these damages makes them difficult to quantify, and what you are permitted to claim will vary depending on the severity of your crash, pre-existing or co-existing conditions, and more. Also, be aware that if you are uninsured at the time of your accident, you might not be allowed to make claims for intangible damages like pain and suffering. It is vital you retain an attorney with the skill and experience to calculate what you can claim and assign a monetary value to each claim accurately.

The challenge of proving intangible claims

Because of their very nature, you will require ample evidence to support your claims for intangible losses. For example, you cannot simply say you’re suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from your accident and expect the court to accept you at your word. You would need documentation from a medical professional (in this example, a psychiatrist) or other qualified expert who could attest to the legitimacy of whatever intangible damages you’re claiming.

Because California law allows for shared responsibility in an accident (known as pure comparative negligence), fault will also come into play when making a claim for intangible damages. Your motor vehicle accident attorney will need to establish that the other driver is all or mostly responsible for your declared intangible losses. Additionally, in a situation where the other person involve in your collision claims you should share blame for the accident, you might need your lawyer to fight that driver’s own claims of intangible losses against you.

Ask a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to calculate your intangible losses

Accurately assessing dollar amounts for your intangible losses requires the assistance of a highly competent Los Angeles automobile accident attorney. Scott Corwin has the experience needed to calculate the most appropriate monetary compensation for your pain and suffering and other intangible claims. Contact Scott to discuss the specifics of your case at 800-946-9440.


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