What Types of Damages Can I Collect in a Personal Injury Claim?
You can collect different types of damages on a personal injury claim. These damages include non-economic, economic, and punitive damages. Damages, in this case, mean monetary compensation that the law permits you to recover if a breach of duty or rights violation is committed against you.
However, before you can collect any damages, you must prove negligence. Your lawyer must also prove causation meaning the liable party’s negligence led to your injuries.
If you can prove negligence and causation, a personal injury attorney can help you determine the damages you are entitled to recover.
Tort law allows you to recover damages through a settlement or lawsuit. In both cases, a personal injury attorney can represent you and help you negotiate a fair settlement.
Types of Personal Injury Damages
So, what are the different types of personal injury damages you need to know? Let us find out.
You may recover economic damages when you are harmed by another’s negligence and experience actual financial losses. These are quantifiable damages meant to relieve you of the financial burden you may experience.
Economic damages are easy to calculate because you can add up how much you have lost. These damages may include the following:
- Medical bills incurred as a result of an injury caused by negligence.
- Future medical costs due to permanent injuries that require care or treatment even after the case is resolved.
- Lost wages as a result of missing work or sick days taken to treat injuries.
- Future lost wages if your ability to work is affected as a result of the injury.
- Loss of property or damages caused to your property as a result of the injury.
- Any out-of-pocket expenses directly associated with the injury or wrongful actions and negligence of the defendant.
- Legal fees related to filing a lawsuit.
- Travel costs
- Property loss, including vehicles or personal items that may be damaged.
- Funeral costs in case of death
These damages are easily estimated by adding up the medical bills and paychecks. Your lawyer can also work with expert witnesses who can help you determine how much you need for future care and lost earnings caused by the inability to work.
Non-economic damages are intangible. Also referred to as hedonic or general damages, these do not have a direct financial impact. They are difficult to quantify, however, they directly impact your quality of life following an injury.
For instance, non-economic damages can cause emotional distress, pain, and suffering. In some cases, they may result in an inability to participate in activities you previously enjoyed. For example, you may be unable to hike following a leg injury.
You are entitled to receive compensation for non-economic damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
- Physical impairment
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate. Insurers and lawyers may use the multiplier or per diem methods to calculate the amount recoverable for past and future days involving emotional distress and pain.
Multiplier method of calculating non-economic damages: This method multiplies your economic damages by a fixed number, typically 1.5 to 5 times the actual damages depending on the severity of your injuries.
Per diem method of calculating non-economic damages: This method pays you a set amount, typically a daily wage of past and future days involving pain.
Compensation for non-economic damages factors in your age, income, and severity of your injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you document your non-economic damages and recover maximum compensation.
Your lawyer may pursue punitive damages when a negligent party intentionally caused harm or displayed a reckless disregard for safety. In personal litigation, punitive damages are awarded to punish wrongful behavior.
Punitive damages cannot be classified as economic or non-economic and are not designed to compensate you for injury or loss.
However, punitive damages are not applicable in all cases. The legal system uses punitive damages sparingly to deter offending parties.
The court determines the amount you can recover in punitive damages based on the severity of your injuries.
Typically, punitive damages are reserved to punish defendants who display or demonstrate malice or willful disregard for the health, safety, and rights of others.
For instance, a car manufacturer who knows the design of their car is defective and likely to cause harm but does not change it can be said to cause willful harm and is liable for punitive damages.
Wrongful Death Damages
You may also be able to file for compensation for wrongful death. When a loved one is killed due to the intentional wrongdoing or negligence of the liable party, their estate or family can file a claim for wrongful death.
Damages awarded for wrongful death include:
- Medical bills incurred before their demise.
- Pain and suffering experienced by your loved one before their demise as a result of injury.
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- Loss of the financial contribution the deceased would have made if they had not lost their life.
- Loss of companionship for surviving spouses and other loved ones
- Loss of consortium
Some wrongful death damages are challenging to quantify, for instance, it is impossible to estimate how much the loss of companionship is worth.
A personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence and prove your closeness to the deceased. They can also help you estimate the severity of the loss and recover fair compensation.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
You can collect personal injury damages in a variety of situations, including:
- Car crashes
- Slips, trips, and falls.
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
If you have been injured due to someone’s wrongdoing or negligence, contact a personal injury attorney to file a compensation claim.
A qualified attorney can help you gather evidence, prove liability, and estimate the loss. They can also maximize your claim by providing proof that the defendant caused you serious injuries.
While settlements are easier and faster, your lawyer can also represent you and help you navigate the court process if your claim proceeds to court.
An experienced lawyer will aggressively negotiate your claim out of court and ensure you receive maximum compensation.
Remember, the statute of limitations in your state can significantly impact your claim. You must file your personal injury claim within a limited time. Generally, if you do not file your claim before the deadline, you may be barred from recovering compensation.
Contact a lawyer to learn more about the damages you can recover in a personal injury claim.