Economic damages are meant to compensate you for losses that are more easily proven. This may include lost wages, medical expenses for past and future treatment, reduced earning capacity, and property damage.
Non-economic damages compensate you for injuries that are harder to quantify. They may include things such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and disfigurement. A skilled California personal injury attorney can use their experience and knowledge of similar cases to determine the appropriate amount for these types of damages.
Finally, in some cases, punitive damages may be appropriate. Punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer, and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. They are typically only available when a person engages in intentional or willful conduct. In some situations, such as when the other driver caused an accident when driving under the influence, you may be able to recover punitive damages.