AVVO questioner asked: Do I need to file the statement of damages with the court or just file the proof of service?
Steve Ryneal answered:
Under California law a plaintiff by statute may not state a specific amount for his personal injury and other damages, including loss of earnings and medical expenses. The plaintiff only has to respond to a Statement of Damages served on him or his counsel if asked to do by the defendant and his attorney. The plaintiff’s response to the defendant’s Request for Statement of Damages and the proof of service attached thereto are not filed with the court at all, but simply served on defense counsel.
The reason behind his change in the law many years ago prohibiting plaintiffs in personal injury cases for suing for a specific amount of money in their complaints was because the complaint itself was a public record, and is therefore available to three main credit reporting agencies as well as prospective creditors to whom the plaintiff may have applied for credit such as a mortgage loan. If this were not the case and the plaintiff were allowed to state a specific amount for his personal injuries and damages he could arbitrarily sue a defendant for $1,000,000 on a case that might be worth $500,000. Under that circumstance then any potential creditor or credit reporting agency searching the public records would be seriously misled as to the defendant’s potential liability because they would see only the $1,000,000 figure in the complaint and be totally unaware that the case under all of the circumstances was only worth $500,000 which would seriously damage the defendant’s ability to obtain credit.