When considering filing a personal injury case over a car wreck, slip and fall, or another type of accident, it is understandable to wonder what your case is really worth. The “damages” or what your injuries have cost you economically, mentally, and physically can help determine the fair amount of damages in your personal injury lawsuit.
The plaintiff (injured party) receives monetary damages by the defendant or their insurer (the individual or organization who is found liable for the accident) in a personal injury lawsuit.
Both parties can agree upon a damages award following a negotiated settlement, between the parties, their insurers, and their lawyers, for instance. In exceptional cases, when a personal injury case makes it to trial, a judge or jury may order the damages award.
The various types of damages in personal injury lawsuit and how a plaintiff’s action (or inaction) can impact a damages award are:
Personal Injury Lawsuit: Compensatory Damages
A majority of personal injury claims are categorized as “compensatory,” meaning that they are intended to compensate the injured party for the losses that occurred due to the injury or accident. Such damages intend to make the injured party “whole” again from a financial perspective (as much as that is possible).
Compensatory damages attempt to quantify the harm caused by an accident. At times, compensatory damages are relatively easy to put a dollar figure on, such as claim involving damage to property or medical expenses. However, it is more challenging to place a numerical value on “pain and suffering” or the effect an accident-related injury can have on the victim’s quality of life.
In personal injury cases, the following types of compensatory damages are common:
A damage award in the case of a personal injury lawsuit almost certainly includes the cost of the medical expenses associated with the crash. These damages refer to the reimbursement for medical treatment that the plaintiff has already undergone as well as compensation for the approximate cost of health care that they will require in the future due to the accident.
The plaintiff may be eligible for compensation for the effect of the accident on their salary and wages. This includes not only the income that the victim has already lost but also the future earnings that they would have been able to generate if the accident had not taken place. In the realm of personal injury cases, a damage award that is based on future income is usually classified as compensation for the injured plaintiff’s “loss of earning capacity.”
Loss of Property
If the accident has led to damage to any automobiles, clothing, or any other items, you will likely be eligible to receive compensation for the fair market value of the lost property or reimbursement for repairs.
Pain and Suffering
The plaintiff may be entitled to receive compensation for the pain and severe discomfort that they endured during the accident and immediately afterward. On top of this, damages are awarded for any continuing pain due to the accident.
Damages for emotional distress are typically linked to more severe accidents in order to compensate the injured plaintiff for the psychological effect of the injury, such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and fear. In some states, emotional distress is considered a part of any “pain and suffering” damages that the plaintiff is awarded.
Loss of Enjoyment
When a personal injury plaintiff is unable to enjoy everyday pursuits, such as exercise, gardening, and other recreational activities, they may be entitled to damages for “loss of enjoyment.”
Loss of consortium
The “loss of consortium” damages in personal injury cases usually pertain to the effect of the plaintiff’s injuries on their relationship with their partner. For instance, the plaintiff’s injuries may have led to the loss of companionship or an inability to perform sexually.
In some states, the court also considers the relationship between a parent and their offspring when one is injured. Sometimes damages for loss of consortium are awarded directly to the impacted family member instead of the injured plaintiff.
Personal Injury Cases: Punitive Damages
At times, when the conduct of the defendant is considered especially harsh or outrageously negligent, an injured plaintiff may receive punitive damages over and above any compensatory award. The rationale behind punitive damages differs significantly from the fundamentals of compensatory damages, which attempt to make the victim “whole” again.
While the personal injury plaintiff is awarded punitive damages, the actual objective of such damages is to punish the defendant for their actions and hopefully deter them from future misconduct. Millions of dollars can be awarded as punitive damages, and therefore, a majority of states have some form of a ceiling on punitive damage awards in personal injury suits.
Legal Help from Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
A devastating personal injury can have a significant impact on the victim’s life, ranging from the inability to provide for their family to adverse effects on spousal relationships. At the law offices of Garmo & Garmo, a qualified personal injury attorney can assess your case and fight hard for the compensation that you deserve. Call (619) 441-2500 today for a free initial consultation with a seasoned personal injury attorney.