In a personal injury claim, the injured party (plaintiff) is seeking to recoup financial compensation for his or her losses, due to the injury caused by another party’s negligence. This financial compensation is often referred to as damages, which come in different forms depending on the case.
At the highest level, damages in a personal injury claim or lawsuit fall into two categories -- compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are designed to fully compensate the injured person for their losses. Punitive damages, which are very rare in personal injury cases, are saved for the most egregious situation and are designed to punish the defendant for their actions (or lack thereof).
Compensatory damages are generally put into two types -- economic and non-economic damages. In a personal injury claim, compensatory damages cover losses like medical bills and lost income, or compensation for the mental anguish of what you endured.
Economic damages are designed to make the injured party financially whole. These types of damages often can be proved through documentation, bills and evidence of the cost. The most common type of economic damages are medical bills and lost income. Keep in mind that medical bills include the any expense incurred in relation to treatment for the injuries including:
- Rehabilitation therapies
- Co-pays and out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Medical devices
Lost income includes any income the injured person would have otherwise received had they been able to work but couldn’t because of the injuries. In the case of serious injury that results in the injured person being permanently unable to work or work at the same job, future lost income and earning capacity could be a part of the economic damages awarded.
Unlike tangible economic damages, non-economic damages refer to intangible losses suffered by the injured victim. While economic damages are usually intended to help restore a person to their financial position before the accident, non-economic damages are a form of compensation that accounts for an injured person’s physical pain and mental anguish due to their suffering as a result of the accident. Common kinds of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Because non-economic damages aren’t attached to a specific financial value, the amount of compensation awarded for non-economic damages varies by case. Factors such as the severity of injuries, changes in lifestyle from before and after the accident as well as age play a part into how those losses are calculated.
In personal injury cases, the plaintiff must prove malice or extreme recklessness through “clear and convincing evidence.” Oftentimes, punitive damages involve a company or other large entity. For example, if an equipment manufacturer continued to make and sell a piece of equipment or part they know to be unsafe or defective and the injured victim can prove the company knowingly continued to sell the equipment even though they knew it could cause injury or death, they could be ordered to pay punitive damages.
How are Damages Calculated?
As part of your personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will calculate a settlement demand based on your economic losses and a variety of other factors. Your lawyer will work with you to prove your case and the amount of compensation you are demanding. Once the claim or lawsuit is filed, the defendant could refuse any amount of your claim or come back with a settlement offer which may begin a negotiation process.
Brandon J. Broderick, Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, working with an experienced personal injury attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with personal injury settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.