In many personal injury lawsuits, an accident victim doesn’t just suffer from the pain of their injury or injuries. They often also face property damage, missed time at work, as well as other losses.
In any given personal injury case, it is common for the injured party to seek money in compensation from the legally responsible party to make up for the different types of losses, or “damages” they have suffered in connection to the accident.
Damages in the world of personal injury often include monetary, physical, and mental sacrifices that an accident victim has had to deal with as a result of their injury. Compensation is the act of repaying them for those setbacks.
Determining the types of damages and the amount of compensation that should be paid involves putting a dollar value on the different ways the injury has impacted the victim (and in some extreme cases, also whether the court should punish the defendant’s actions). A personal injury attorney can help you discuss the details of your case and figure out the specific types of damages for which you could be compensated.
Typically, a defendant compensates an injured plaintiff in an amount that is either agreed upon by a settlement between the parties or decided in court when a trial takes place.
Determining How Much Your Personal Injury Claim Is Worth
The kinds and amounts of compensation can range from one case to another because each accident is unique. However, the value of a personal injury claim will likely be determined by two categories of damages: compensatory and punitive.
What Are Compensatory Damages?
Most personal injury damages are compensatory and are intended to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again by repaying them for the harm they have suffered from the accident or injury. On the other hand, punitive damages are typically meant to punish defendants for certain types of bad behavior.
Compensatory damages are found in many types of personal injury cases, including:
- auto accidents
- medical malpractice
- slips and falls
Compensatory damages can also be awarded in wrongful death cases. However, instead of being paid to the plaintiff, as with other injury cases, wrongful death damages are typically paid to the surviving family and loved ones of the deceased.
Wrongful death cases can involve damages (such as funeral expenses or pre-death medical care) that are not like the compensatory damages which are typically awarded in other types of personal injury lawsuits.
An injured plaintiff’s losses typically fall within two basic categories of compensatory damages: general and special damages.
Types Of Special Damages In A Personal Injury Claim
Special damages usually refer to the monetary losses that a victim has suffered as a result of their injury. These types of damages can be easier to calculate when building a claim because they are typically costs that have been recorded in clear-cut numbers.
The most common types of special damages are:
- medical bills for treatment
- future medical care
- lost income for missed work
- lost future earnings
- property damage or loss
Many accident-related injuries will require some form of medical treatment and may involve a long-term care plan for the future. Fortunately, both current and future medical costs you have suffered as a result of the accident can be taken into account for compensation in a claim.
You could seek compensation for income that you have lost because of the effect the injury has had on your work. This can include money you have already lost from missing work, as well as a loss in your ability to earn money in the future, or lost earning capacity.
If any of your personal property was damaged or lost in the event of the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for repairs or replacement. This type of loss is especially common in auto accident cases, but it can also come into play in slips and falls or other accidents that can involve damage and/or loss of a victim’s personal items.
Types Of General Damages In A Personal Injury Claim
As opposed to special damages, general damages are intended to compensate for losses that are not monetary. This means general damages can be more challenging to calculate because, unlike special damages which involve hard numbers, these damages cover the physical and mental harm the victim suffered at the time of the injury and has suffered afterward.
Some common types of general damages are:
- pain and suffering
- emotional distress
- loss of consortium
Pain And Suffering
Compensation that is paid for an accident victim’s physical discomfort and pain is often described as a form of repayment for their pain and suffering. These damages account for the physical harm that the plaintiff has suffered during the time of the accident, as well as afterward.
Ongoing pain and suffering could also be included in your claim for compensation. Generally speaking, the more severe an injury, the higher the degree of pain and suffering, and the greater the amount of compensation paid by the defendant. Less serious injuries will typically result in lesser amounts of compensation.
You could be entitled to compensation for emotional distress if an accident-related injury has caused you “mental anguish”, or has had a negative psychological impact on you, outside of the physical pain and discomfort you may feel (pain and suffering). These damages are typically seen in cases involving more serious injuries.
Signs of emotional distress are commonly expressed by:
- sleep loss
Some states take emotional distress into account as part of pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case.
Loss Of Consortium
In many personal injury cases, a plaintiff will seek compensation for the negative impact their accident-related injury has had on the close personal relationship they share with their spouse.
If you find that you have suffered a loss of companionship, or cannot maintain a sexual relationship with your spouse because of your injury, you may be eligible for compensation for suffering what is called a loss of consortium.
Depending on the state you live in, an injury’s impact on the relationship you share with your children could also be considered as part of these damages.
Every accident is different, and your losses may be unique to you. Meeting with a personal injury attorney about your case can get you much closer to finding out what your claim is worth.
Other Types Of Compensation (Damages) Awarded In Personal Injury Lawsuits
While compensatory damages are often found in personal injury cases, punitive damages are much rarer and usually are awarded for the primary purpose of punishing the defendant, rather than compensating the victim.
Punitive damages are found only in some extreme cases and are typically awarded to an injured plaintiff when the defendant’s actions at the time of the accident are found to be especially careless or malicious.
Since punitive damages are uncommon and can reach amounts in millions of dollars (depending on the circumstances of the case), most states have set legal “caps,” or limits, to how much can be awarded for punitive damages in personal injury cases.
Finding A Personal Injury Lawyer
In the aftermath of an accident, you may be overwhelmed and wondering, “what is my case really worth?”
Maximizing the value of your claim starts with finding what you can be compensated for—and our results-driven attorneys can help. Contact Florin|Roebig today to find out what your claim could be worth.