When you have been injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party allows you to recover compensation for your damages. In most personal injury cases, damages are intended to “make the plaintiff whole.” Although no amount of money can change what happened, an attorney can help you understand the types of damages to which you may be entitled if you are hurt, or a family member is killed, due to someone else’s negligence.
Economic damages are measurable, objectively verifiable financial losses. Common types of economic damages include:
MEDICAL BILLS – Medical expenses such as surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, rehabilitation, medications, and ongoing treatment can be costly, especially if an injured victim has sustained a catastrophic injury or is permanently disabled. If someone requires lifelong care or adaptive devices like prosthetics, it is important to accurately value future medical costs. Hiring an attorney can help to ensure you receive adequate compensation for both past and future medical expenses.
LOSS OF INCOME – Damages for lost wages include compensation for work that a victim could have earned if they had not suffered an injury. If you are permanently unable to work due to your injury, you may also be entitled to compensation for loss of future earning capacity.
PROPERTY DAMAGE – You may be able to recover compensation for any property damage sustained in an accident that was someone else’s fault. For example, car repair or replacement.
Also known as general damages, non-economic damages are harder to quantify – they are highly subjective and vary from case to case. It is critical to seek the counsel of a lawyer who knows how to correctly calculate and prove which general damages you may be entitled to recover. Types of non-economic damages include:
EMOTIONAL DISTRESS – People who are severely or permanently injured often suffer from mental anguish, anxiety and stress.
PAIN AND SUFFERING – Those who suffer serious injury may experience chronic physical pain, which can make it impossible to enjoy or even perform everyday activities like taking a walk or playing with their children.
EMBARASSMENT AND HUMILIATION – Reduced ability to function, disfigurement, lack of independence and other conditions can cause injured victims to suffer embarrassment and humiliation.
LOSS OF ENJOYMENT OF LIVE – An injury can deprive you of the pleasure of participating in things you used to enjoy, such as social outings, sports, and hobbies.
LOSS OF COMPAINIONSHIP OR CONSORTIUM – Wrongful death or personal injury can destroy marriages, friendships and other family relationships.
Punitive damages may be awarded if an at-fault party’s conduct was particularly outrageous, reckless or malicious. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the victim – they are intended to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from committing similar acts. Drunk drivers who cause injury in a car accident often end up being liable for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
How Are Damages Calculated?
Personal injury claims are complex. No two cases are alike, and the amount of damages you may recover depends on the extent of your injuries, how they have impacted your life, and other factors. There is no set way to calculate damages, but insurance companies and attorneys often use the “multiplier method” to determine the total amount of general damages, including pain and suffering.
This means that they take the total dollar amount of economic damages and multiply it by a number that is typically between 1.5 and 5. Your attorney will determine an approximate value of your claim by looking at the evidence surrounding the circumstances and the impact of your injuries. Insurance companies try to undervalue or deny claims any way they can, so it is critical to have a skilled attorney who will fight to help you recover maximum compensation and make things right for you and your family.