Understanding damages in a personal injury case
How are damages determined in a personal injury case? What kinds of damages can I be compensated for?
Victims who were hurt by car crashes, truck collisions, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, asbestos exposure, or defective products can file lawsuits to recover for damages. The term “damages” refers to the amount of money that those victims are awarded to compensate for the financial losses, pain, and suffering that their injuries caused.
What Is the Difference Between Economic and Non-economic Damages?
They are two main types of damages in personal injury cases: economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic Damages can be thought of as the concrete financial costs caused by an injury. Examples of economic damages include the costs of medical treatments, procedures, medications, surgeries, and hospital stays, wage losses, loss of earning capacity, rehabilitation expenses, and other out-of-pocket expenses that relate to the injury. Economic damages are awarded for past costs that have already been incurred and for ongoing and future costs as well.
Noneconomic Damages compensate personal injury plaintiffs for their intangible losses, such as physical pain, suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of joy of life, permanent impairment, mental suffering, and loss of consortium. Because of their subjective and abstract nature, noneconomic damages are more difficult to quantify than economic damages.
How Are Damages Proved in Personal Injury Cases?
Personal injury plaintiffs will need to prove that they are entitled to all damages. Demonstrating economic and noneconomic damages will require different kinds of proof and understanding.
Economic damages for costs that a victim has already incurred can usually be proved by using documents such as hospital bills, wage statements, and receipts for costs such as rehabilitation, in-home nursing, wheelchairs, and any other out-of-pocket costs associated with the injury.
Economic damages for future costs often rely on the testimony of experts, who can explain how the accident will continue to cost the victim money going forward. Medical experts can describe how a personal injury plaintiff’s care and treatment will change as the victim ages. They also can predict the kinds of additional medical risks that the plaintiff now faces because of the accident. For example, if a trauma victim will someday need additional surgeries to continue to treat the catastrophic injury, the medical expert can testify about those procedures and the risks of complications and infections that they bring.
To calculate future lost wages, economists and industry experts can calculate how much money a personal injury plaintiff would have earned had they not been injured. To do so, these experts consider factors such as future promotions, education and training, and average career lengths. From that total number, they can then subtract how much the injured victim is now likely to earn.
Unlike economic damages, there are no documents or records that can provide concrete numbers for a victim’s noneconomic damages. In most states, there is a maximum cap on the amount of noneconomic damages that can be awarded to personal injury plaintiffs, but that number varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Munley Law attorneys have dedicated their careers to helping accident victims and their families recover for all of the losses, pain, and suffering that they have endured. We work with the top experts to make sure you and your family get the maximum recovery. If you or someone who know was injured in a catastrophic accident, don’t wait–schedule your free consultation today!
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