California Civil Code § 3281 states in pertinent part, “every person who suffers detriment from Personal Injury, the unlawful act or omission of another, may recover from the person in fault a compensation in money, which is called damages.” California law limits recovery to actual harm caused to the victim. Those damages are divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

A. Economic Damages

Economic damages includes “objectively verifiable monetary losses” which includes past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, lost earning capacity, and loss of use of real property. California Civil Code § 1431(b)(1). The amount recoverable for medical care and services must be reasonably and attributable to the injuries suffered from the incident. However, when determining future medical costs, the calculation can get difficult, since the medical treatment has not yet occurred. Typically, an attorney will consult with an expert in the field to evaluate your injuries to determine any future medical care and assign a reasonable value to the care.

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Call 855-977-1212 and speak with one of our Local Personal Injury Lawyers to see if you have a case.

The same applies for future lost earnings and lost earning capacity. Attorneys will consult with expert economist to determine the amount of lost wages and the reduced capacity to earn a salary. Loss of use of real property is determined by the cost to rent the similar item of personal property. For example, a rental company may charge $30.00 a day to rent a compact size vehicle. The courts will often rely on such information to determine the loss of use of personal property.

B. Non-economic Damages

Contrary to economic damages, non-economic damages includes “subjective non-monetary losses” which includes pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, injury to reputation, and humiliation. California Civil Code § 1431(b)(2). Emotional injuries includes mental injuries such as fear, insomnia, grief, worry, inconvenience and the loss of enjoyment of life.

Calculating non-economic damages can be very difficult. One way to evaluate the value of your non-economic damages is by multiplying the economic damages. For example, if the economic damages are approximately $10,000.00, the non-economic damages can be a multiplied by five and the average amount of non-economic damages can be $50,000.00. Getting an exact amount is difficult and requires rationale supporting the estimated amount. Lawyers will often consult with experts in the field to determine a reasonable amount and will argue with insurance companies and attorneys to justify their clients’ position.

C. Contributory Negligence

It has been a long policy of the California courts that if the party to a claim was negligent at the time of the incident, the party may be apportioned a percentage of responsibility for the harm. If the party making the claim for injuries is found to have been at fault, then the jury will decide the percentage of responsibility to that party and the defendant, and reduce the total damages by the percentage of responsibility. For example, if the jury finds that the Plaintiff is 20% responsible for an incident, but finds the Defendant 80% liable and awards Plaintiff $2,000,000.00, then the gross verdict will be reduced to $1,600,000.00.

It’s not as simple as it sounds.

Damages are limited but the type of damages is very case specific. Some Personal Injury actions, such as wrongful death actions, allow for the recovery of burial costs. Other personal injury actions allow for costs of repair or replacement for any damage to property, loss of employment, and loss of business or employment opportunities. Given the severity of an incident, a party may even recover for the lost earning capacity and loss of ability to provide household services. Others allow for the recovery of emotional distress, even when the party making the claim was not directly harmed by the incident.

It is important to understand the extent of your damages and what can be recovered based on the specific facts surrounding the claim. It is just as important to consult an attorney in your state immediately following an incident to better understand and protect your legal rights. Do not wait, never hesitate, and reach out to a professional who is ready to serve your needs.



Location: Los Angeles, CA 91403

Consultation: Free - 60 minutes

Tel: (310) 363-0551

Email: jonathan [ at ] ellisbakh.com



Jonathan Bakhsheshian , Esq.

is an associate attorney at Ellis & Bakh, LLP where he specializes in wrongful death and catastrophic injury litigation.
He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles and earned his Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law. At Pepperdine, Jonathan was the Lead Articles Editor of the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal and a lead member of the negotiations and mediations Team. He competed in several nationwide and international negotiation and mediation competitions. Jonathan continued his studies at the number one, nationally-ranked Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and obtained his Masters in Dispute Resolution.

In addition to his classroom training, Jonathan externed for the United States District Court, Central District of California; United States Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice; Honorable Judge Robert Kwan, Bankruptcy Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California; Los Angeles Superior Court; and for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

Jonathan is dedicated to the principal and philosophy that every injured victim is entitled to the best representation, regardless of their personal financial status or complexity of their case. Jonathan prides himself on being a tough, creative, and fair legal advocate for all of his clients.




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6 + 5 =

Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered to 18 in California?

All 50 US states have set their minimum drinking age to 21 although exceptions do exist on a state-by-state basis.

Considering health risks, accidents, DUI, analyses found higher legal drinking ages associated with lower alcohol consumption, 18 is the age of adulthood and more.

Would you support reducing the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) from 21 to 18?

Lawyers help resolve DUI cases and doctors save lives but they all hope to see less of those. Keeping the roads safe is a goal we all share. Can we reduce this problem by changing the legal age of alcohol consumption?

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Here are some 14 pros and cons details with various statistics put together by ProCon.  It will help you learn about aspects of this subject that you might not have considered before.

Pro Arguments

18 is the age of adulthood in the United States, and adults should have the right to make their own decisions about alcohol consumption.

Turning 18 entails receiving the rights and responsibilities of adulthood to vote, smoke cigarettes, serve on juries, get married, sign contracts, be prosecuted as adults, and join the military – which includes risking one’s life

Con Arguments

Lowering MLDA 21 would be medically irresponsible.

Alcohol consumption can interfere with development of the young adult brain’s frontal lobes, essential for functions such as emotional regulation, planning, and organization. When alcohol consumption interferes with this early adult brain development, the potential for chronic problems such as greater vulnerability to addiction, dangerous risk-taking behavior, reduced decision-making ability, memory loss, depression, violence, and suicide is greater

Allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to drink alcohol in regulated environments with supervision would decrease unsafe drinking activity.

Prohibiting this age group from drinking in bars, restaurants, and other licensed locations causes them to drink in unsupervised places such as fraternity houses or house parties where they may be more prone to binge drinking and other unsafe behavior.

Lowering MLDA 21 to 18 will irresponsibly allow a greater segment of the population to drink alcohol in bars and nightclubs, which are not safe environments.

76% of bars have sold alcohol to obviously intoxicated patrons, and about half of drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or killed as alcohol-involved drivers in traffic crashes did their drinking at licensed establishments. Neighborhoods with higher densities of bars, nightclubs, and other alcohol-selling locations suffer more frequent assaults and other violent crimes.

Traffic accidents and fatalities are most common among newly-legal drinkers, regardless of the MLDA.

In 2009, the 21- to 24-year-old age group had the highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of .08 or higher – 35 percent.  Any increase in traffic accidents or fatalities in 18- to 20-year-olds would be offset by a decrease for those 21 and older.

The right to drink should have a higher age of initiation because of the dangers posed by drinking.

Many rights in the United States are conferred on citizens at age 21 or older. A person cannot legally purchase a handgun, gamble in a casino (in most states), or adopt a child until age 21, rent a car (for most companies) at age 25, or run for President until age 35. Drinking should be similarly restricted due to the responsibility required to self and others.

There are fewer drunk driving traffic accidents and fatalities in many countries with MLDA of 18.

Although the United States increased the MLDA to 21 in 1984, its rate of traffic accidents and fatalities in the 1980s decreased less than that of European countries whose legal drinking ages are lower than 21.

MLDA 21 reduces traffic accidents and fatalities.

100 of the 102 analyses (98%) in a 2002 meta-study of the legal drinking age and traffic accidents found higher legal drinking ages associated with lower rates of traffic accidents. [19] The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that MLDA 21 decreased the number of fatal traffic accidents for 18- to 20-year-olds by 13% and saved approximately 27,052 lives from 1975-2008.

The decrease in drunk driving fatalities as a percentage of total traffic fatalities in the United States does not correlate to the MLDA.

Since 1982, two years prior to the Uniform Drinking Age Act establishing an MLDA of 21, a decline of drunk driving fatalities occurred across all age groups and demographic categories, and therefore cannot be reliably attributed to MLDA 21.

MLDA 21 reduces alcohol consumption.

In a 2002 meta-study, 87% of the analyses found higher legal drinking ages associated with lower alcohol consumption.  In 2009, the NHTSA found that the percentage of weekend nighttime drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher declined from 5.4% in 1986 (two years after the MLDA was raised to 21) to 2.2% in 2007.

Lowering MLDA from 21 to 18 would diminish the thrill of breaking the law to get a drink.

Normalizing alcohol consumption as something done responsibly in moderation will make drinking alcohol less of a taboo for young adults entering college and the workforce.

MLDA 21 should not be lowered to mirror European drinking age limits because the rate of drinking among US teenagers is lower than most European countries.

US teenagers also show equal or lower rates of intoxication/binge drinking than do adolescents from most European countries, and most European countries report higher rates of intoxication and binge drinking for youth under 13.

MLDA 21 is largely ineffective because the majority of teens continue to consume alcohol.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, underage drinking accounts for 17.5% ($22.5 billion) of consumer spending for alcohol in the United States. In 2006, 72.2% of twelfth graders reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives.

MLDA 21 laws reduce the number of underage drinkers.

The percentage of underage drinkers has decreased since 1984 when most MLDA 21 laws came into effect.  Studies indicate that when the drinking age is 21, those younger than 21 drink less and continue to drink less through their early 20s, and that youth who do not drink until they are 21 tend to drink less as adults.

High non-compliance with MLDA 21 promotes general disrespect and non-compliance with other areas of US law.

MLDA 21 encourages young adults to acquire and use false identification documents to procure alcohol. In this era of national security concerns, including terrorism, illegal immigration, and other threats, it would be better to have fewer fake IDs in circulation and more respect for the law.

MLDA 18 is not a right.

A US district court ruled on Dec. 22, 1978 that MLDA 21 is “reasonably related to a state objective of reducing highway crashes,” and that MLDA 21 withstands a constitutional challenge on three key legal issues: (1) drinking alcohol is not a “fundamental” right guaranteed by the Constitution, (2) age is not inherently a “suspect” criteria for discrimination (in contrast to race or ethnicity, for example) and (3) using the drinking age to prevent highway crashes has a “rational basis” in available scientific evidence.

MLDA 21 enforcement is not a priority for many law enforcement agencies.

Police are inclined to ignore or under-enforce MLDA 21 because of resource limitations, statutory obstacles, perceptions that punishments are inadequate, and the time and effort required for processing and paperwork. An estimated two of every 1,000 occasions of illegal drinking by youth under 21 results in an arrest.

The American public overwhelmingly supports MLDA 21.

A 2007 Gallup poll found that 77% of Americans would oppose a federal law that lowers the drinking age in all states to age 18.   Numerous state and national surveys dating from the 1970s (when states were raising the legal drinking age) through the present have shown overwhelming public support for MLDA 21.

MLDA 21 is not statistically associated with lower rates of suicide, homicide, or vandalism.

In a 2002 meta-study of the legal drinking age and health and social problems, 72% of the studies found no statistically significant relationship despite claims that lowering the MLDA to 18 would increase suicide and criminal activities by adolescents.

Lowering MLDA 21 would give high schoolers and even middle schoolers easier access to alcohol.

Newly-legal drinkers often purchase alcohol for their underage peers, creating a “trickle-down” effect. Surveys show that the most common source of alcohol among 18- to 20-year olds is their 21- to 24-year-old peers.

Drinking alcohol is an enjoyable activity.

18- to 20-year-old adults should not be denied that enjoyment when other pleasurable activities are legal at age 18.

MLDA 21 helps prevent underage binge drinking.

Binge drinking peaks among 21- to 25-year-olds at 45.9%, while the binge drinking rates of those aged 12-13, 14-15, 16-17, and 18-20 are 1.5%, 7.8%, 19.4%, and 35.7% respectively.

Lowering MLDA 21 would reduce the number of underage people who are hurt from alcohol-related injuries or accidents due to fear of legal consequences if they sought medical attention.

MLDA 21 exerts valuable social pressure on potential underage drinkers and those who may serve them.

Youth may choose not to drink, or to drink less often, because of decreased social acceptability or increased risks from parental or legal authorities. Older youth and adults may furnish alcoholic beverages to minors less frequently, and licensed alcohol outlets may sell to minors less frequently, because of their perceptions that it is illegal, morally wrong, or because they might be caught.

State governments should have the right to establish a lower legal drinking age that reflects their unique demographics, legal context, and history.

The Uniform Drinking Act, which compelled states to set the legal drinking age at 21 by withholding ten percent of highway funding from states that kept the minimum legal drinking age at 18, is an example of federal government overreach into state affairs. Many states that were happy with their MLDA 18 bowed to federal pressure rather than lose millions in annual highway funds.

The MLDA should stay at 21 because people tend to be more mature and responsible at 21 than 18.

18-year-olds are typically entering a new phase of independence from their parents through college or the workforce, and are more susceptible to binge drinking, risky sexual activity, and other irresponsible behavior due to lack of maturity.

Lowering MLDA 21 would be good for the economy.

More people would legally be able to drink in bars, restaurants, and other licensed establishments. Revenue would increase for private business owners, and greater amounts of tax revenue would be collected by the government.

Lowering the drinking age will invite more use of illicit drugs among 18-21 year olds.

A peer-reviewed study from the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs found that the younger a person begins to drink alcohol the more likely it is that they will use other illicit drugs. Lowering MLDA 21 would increase the number of teens who drink and therefore the number of teens who use other drugs.

2 + 13 =

“Mom! I Had an Accident” – The Lawyer Story You Can Relate To

Yesterday, I was Car #2 in a seven-car accident on Olympic Boulevard in West Los Angeles, but I really don’t know what to do. We called the Police, and we all (… that is, all 7 cars … there was an 8th car, that caused the pile-up, but they sped away …) waited there for more than 45 minutes but the Police never came. Perhaps, when the “911” Operator asked, was anyone hurt, I should have said “YES,” but instead, I said “I don’t think so … “

Car Accident Attorney

Car Accident Attorney

Today, I wish I had a Car Accident Attorney “lined-up.” The truth is, I’ve never used an Attorney, and I have no idea who to call. Right now, I’m calling miscellaneous friends, asking, “have you ever been in a car accident,” and did you use an attorney. Sometimes, I’m just leaving voicemail messages. It’s silly to even think about it, but I really wish I had done this research before my car accident happened !

My neck, shoulder and back are stiffening up, and beginning to hurt. Hopefully, this is no big deal, but I’m thinking that I should go to a Chiropractor or some kind of doctor. But same story here … I really don’t know who to go to. I go to a Family Medical Clinic, and I’ve made an appointment, but they can’t see me until Friday. I know … I could go to the Emergency Room at a Hospital or Urgent Care, but I still don’t feel quite right treating this as an “Emergency.” Again, it’s really silly, but I wish I had a list of Chiropractors. I guess if I’d lined up a Car Accident Attorney before, I could call them right now, and get a referral to a Chiropractor that would treat me for free, and get paid after the insurance companies sort this out.

I’ve called my own insurance company, and reported the accident. I got the insurance information from the Driver in front of me, and behind me, but I don’t know what to do …. Am I supposed to call their insurance companies, or does my company do that ? A Car Accident Attorney would know the answer !

Here’s what I’m thinking … right away, I knew to call “911.” At my kids school, they have a list of numbers to call right away, if there’s a problem.
I really should have an “Emergency List,” with the names and numbers of a couple of Car Accident Attorneys, a couple of Chiropractors, my Family Medical Clinic number, a list of friends with cars, that could come pick me up, if I can’t drive, but don’t want to call an Ambulance. I am going to make sure I’m better prepared in the future … starting with a reliable referral to a really Good Car Accident Attorney !

 Los Angeles Lawyer

The Best Car Accident Lawyer in Los Angeles is a Phone Call Away 855-977-1212