When individuals find themselves the victims of personal injury in Massachusetts, navigating the legal system can often feel as daunting as dealing with the injury itself. One key aspect to understand in these claims is the concept of "economic damages." This article dives into what economic damages entail and their role in a Massachusetts personal injury claim.
Defining Economic Damages
At its core, economic damages refer to the quantifiable financial losses a person incurs due to the injury caused by someone else's negligence or intentional act. These are out-of-pocket expenses and financial burdens directly resulting from the injury.
Types of Economic Damages in Massachusetts
- Medical Expenses: The most common and often significant type of economic damage is medical expenses. This can include emergency room visits, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, chiropractic treatments, and any future medical costs attributable to the injury.
- Lost Wages: If a person's injury keeps them from working, either temporarily or permanently, they can claim the wages they would have earned during that period. This also includes loss of earning capacity if the injury hinders their ability to earn a living in the future.
- Property Damage: If the personal injury incident involved damage to personal property, such as in car accidents, the cost of repairs or replacement falls under this category.
- Out-of-Pocket Costs: Any other miscellaneous costs directly related to the injury, such as travel expenses to medical appointments or the need for home modifications, can be claimed.
Proving Economic Damages in Massachusetts
Documentation is vital. To successfully claim economic damages, the injured party should maintain a thorough record of all expenses and losses related to the injury. This includes:
- Medical Bills: Retain copies of all bills from healthcare providers.
- Pay Stubs and Employment Records: These help demonstrate lost wages and potentially lost earning capacity.
- Property Repair or Replacement Bills: In cases involving property damage.
- Receipts: For any other injury-related costs.
Massachusetts law requires that claimants prove that these damages are directly attributable to the injury and that they are reasonable and necessary.
Comparative Negligence in Massachusetts
It's essential to note that Massachusetts operates under a "comparative negligence" system. This means that if the injured party is found partially at fault for the incident leading to the injury, their recoverable damages can be reduced in proportion to their fault. For example, if someone is found to be 30% responsible for an accident, they can only recover 70% of their total economic damages.
Non-Economic Damages vs. Economic Damages
While this article focuses on economic damages, it's worth noting the distinction between non-economic damages. Non-economic damages encompass intangible losses, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. While economic damages can be calculated based on actual financial losses, non-economic damages are more subjective. Depending on the specifics of the case, they may change.
In Massachusetts personal injury cases, the distinction between economic and non-economic damages is a critical aspect of the compensation process. Economic damages represent measurable monetary losses, whereas non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as "general damages," address the more subjective, non-monetary impacts of an injury.
Non-economic damages in Massachusetts might encompass:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Diminished quality of life
These types of damages lack a definitive financial equivalent, such as that found with medical expenses or lost income, making them inherently more subjective. The valuation of non-economic damages is mainly at the jury's discretion, reflecting the personal, intangible costs of an injury.
How Are Economic Damages Calculated?
In Massachusetts, determining economic damages in a personal injury claim involves a thorough and precise documentation process. Accurate record-keeping of all financial losses related to the injury is essential for ensuring just compensation.
- Medical Expenses Documentation: Retain every piece of documentation related to your medical treatment, including all bills, receipts for prescriptions, and any other medical expenses. These records not only confirm your immediate medical costs but also support the potential necessity for future medical care, which may be a component of your claim.
- Documentation of Lost Wages: If your injuries have prevented you from working, it's important to compile evidence of your lost income. This evidence can consist of recent pay stubs, tax records, employment documents, and, if available, a statement from your employer quantifying your lost earnings due to the injury.
- Assessment of Property Damage: Secure all estimates, invoices, and receipts concerning the repair or replacement of any property damaged in the incident. Photographic evidence can substantiate the extent of the damage and support your claim for these specific losses.
- Tracking of Incidental Expenses: Keep a meticulous record of all incidental expenses that have arisen as a result of the injury. This includes, but is not limited to, travel expenses to medical appointments, purchases of non-prescription medication, and any costs incurred for home modifications to aid in your recovery.
Economic damages play a crucial role in a Massachusetts personal injury claim, ensuring that victims are compensated for the tangible financial impacts of their injuries. Understanding and properly documenting these damages can make a significant difference in the compensation an injured party receives.
If you or someone you know is navigating a personal injury claim in Massachusetts, it's imperative to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who guides you through the intricacies of economic damages, ensuring you get compensated.
Injured? The Office of Brandon J. Broderick, Car Accident Lawyers, Can Help
If the unfortunate happens and you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t go it alone. An experienced lawyer can advocate for your best interest and pursue fair compensation for your damages. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, you can count on us to work tirelessly for your quality of life. Our long track record of success has helped people like you move forward after sustaining an injury caused by another’s negligence.
Contact us now for a free legal review.