You might know you deserve a personal injury settlement, but how much should you seek? What settlement offer should you accept?
Calculating your damages is a key step in the process, and you should always have a personal injury lawyer help determine the reasonable value range of your case.
What are personal injury damages?
Personal injury damages refer to the monetary compensation for a person who has suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of the wrongful actions or negligence of another party. This compensation aims to help the victim recover from their injuries and cover the costs associated with their losses.
Personal injury damages generally fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to actual financial losses, such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. These damages are often easy to quantify and are based on actual expenses and bills. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more subjective and relate to the victim’s pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages can be harder to quantify but are equally important in ensuring that the victim is made whole after being injured.
In some cases, punitive damages may also apply to an injury case. Punitive damages punish the defendant for their reckless or intentionally harmful behavior rather than compensate the victim for their losses. These damages are less common and are typically only in cases where the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious.
The following is a more in-depth look at the different types of damages that can stem from a personal injury. Understanding potential damages is critical to calculating what you deserve.
Economic damages are one type of compensation recoverable in personal injury cases. Economic damages are the monetary losses that result from the injury and compensate the victim for their financial losses. A personal injury lawyer can calculate these damages based on actual expenses you incurred or expect to incur in the future.
The most common types of economic damages include medical expenses, lost income, and property damage.
- Medical expenses are the costs associated with hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
- Lost income refers to the money and benefits the victim would have earned had they not suffered injuries.
- Property damage refers to the cost of repairing or replacing any property that sustained damage due to the accident, such as a car, home, or electronics.
In addition to these common types of economic damages, victims may also seek compensation for other financial losses, such as the cost of hiring someone to perform household tasks that they can no longer do because of their injuries or the cost of modifying their homes to accommodate their injuries.
Economic damages are an important aspect of personal injury compensation, as they ensure that the victim can recover financially from losses resulting from their injuries and cover their expenses. By awarding economic damages, the legal system seeks to ensure the victim is not left in a worse financial condition as a result of a traumatic event that causes economic loss.
Non-economic damages are another type of compensation for an injured party. These damages compensate the victim for the personal or “human” losses that result from their injuries, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are more subjective and harder to quantify, but they are no less important in ensuring that the victim gets full compensation for their losses.
- Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain and emotional distress the victim experiences due to their injuries.
- Emotional distress includes anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that can arise as a result of the trauma.
- Loss of enjoyment of life refers to the impact that the injury has on the victim’s ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed, such as hobbies, sports, or spending time with family and friends.
To determine the value of non-economic damages, a variety of factors come into play, such as the severity and duration of the injury, the age and health of the victim, and the impact of the injury on their daily life.
Non-economic damages are often the most significant losses involved in a personal injury case. Non-economic losses can be devastating and completely change your life, and properly valuing these losses is a critical part of evaluating a personal injury case.
Punitive damages do not apply in every case. This is a monetary award in a civil lawsuit intended to punish the defendant’s actions and deter it in the future. Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate the plaintiff for losses or harm caused by the defendant, punitive damages punish the defendant for their intentional, malicious, or reckless behavior.
Punitive damages typically apply in cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious and harmful. For example, if a company knowingly sells a dangerous product that causes injury or death to consumers, punitive damages can be recoverable to punish the company for its reckless behavior and to prevent similar conduct in the future.
The amount of punitive damages awarded varies depending on the circumstances of the case and the severity of the defendant’s behavior. In some cases, punitive damages may exceed the amount of compensatory damages.
You must file a lawsuit and take it before a judge or jury to obtain punitive damages. A personal injury attorney should know whether your case is the type where alleging punitive damages is appropriate. Always discuss your case with a personal injury attorney to ensure claim all available damages.
The Severity of Your Injuries Matter
Even injuries caused accidentally can cause significant physical harm, disability, or even death. These types of injuries can occur in a variety of situations, such as workplace accidents, motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports-related incidents, and more. The severity of your injuries will directly affect the value of your case.
Here are some common types of serious accidental injuries that can result in substantial damages:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): A TBI happens due to trauma to the brain. In some cases, a TBI leads to permanent brain damage or death.
- Spinal cord injuries: These injuries can cause severe pain, partial or complete paralysis, and may result from a fall, sports injury, or motor vehicle accident.
- Burns: Burns can occur from fires, explosions, or exposure to chemicals and can range from minor to severe. Severe burns may require hospitalization, skin grafts, or amputation.
- Fractures: Broken bones can result from falls, sports injuries, or motor vehicle accidents. Some fractures may require surgery to repair.
- Amputations: The loss of a limb can occur as a result of a severe injury or trauma, such as a workplace accident or motor vehicle crash.
- Internal injuries: Internal injuries may occur from a variety of accidents, such as motor vehicle crashes or falls. These injuries can be life-threatening and may require emergency surgery.
The more serious your injuries, the greater impact on your physical, emotional, and financial well-being. Your attorney should review all your medical records, pain journals, and other evidence of your injuries when determining your damages.
Your Injury-Related Losses
The following are the losses your injury lawyer should consider, among others.
When a person sustains a serious injury, the medical bills can quickly become overwhelming. In some cases, the medical expenses may be so high that they can potentially bankrupt the injured person and their family. The cost of medical care for serious injuries can vary widely depending on the severity of the injury, the type of treatment required, the length of hospital stay and the availability of health insurance.
For example, if an individual suffers a traumatic brain injury, they may require extensive treatment and rehabilitation. This can include hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and ongoing therapy. The costs of these treatments can add up quickly and may leave the injured person with a pile of medical bills.
Fortunately, there are options available for those who are struggling to pay their medical bills. If the injury occurred due to the negligence of someone else, the injury victim can pursue compensation for all of their medical bills through a personal injury case. To properly pursue a legal claim, your attorney should have clear calculations of your past and future estimated medical bills. You should also have evidence to support these calculations.
Personal injuries can often result in lost income, which can cause significant financial stress for the injured person and their family. Depending on the severity of the injury, the length of time away from work can vary from a few days to a person being unable to return to work altogether.
For example, if an individual sustains a serious back injury, they may not be able to perform their job duties and may need to take an extended period off from work. This can lead to a loss of income, which can be particularly challenging if the individual was a primary earner for their family.
In addition to the direct financial impact of lost income, there may also be other indirect costs associated with the injury. For example, if the injured person has to rely on others for care or assistance, they may need to pay for these services. They may also incur additional expenses for transportation to medical appointments or for necessary medical equipment.
People who have lost income due to personal injuries can seek compensation for these lost earnings. Your lawyer should review your records and help you determine the extent of your income loss. With the help of doctors and economic experts, they can project your lost income into the future when necessary.
If you cannot work ever again, you might start collecting disability benefits. Your attorney will know how to factor such benefits into your calculations and claims for future lost income. These calculations often require help from economic and vocational experts.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are non-economic damages in a personal injury case that cover your human losses. These damages pay for the physical pain and emotional suffering you experience as a result of your injury.
Pain and suffering damages are in addition to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and other economic damages. The reasonable amount of pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case will depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the injury, the duration of the pain and suffering, and the impact on the individual’s daily life.
If someone suffers a serious injury that results in chronic pain, they may receive a larger amount of pain and suffering damages to compensate them for the ongoing physical and emotional impact of their injury. Similarly, if the injury has caused the individual to experience depression or anxiety, they may receive additional damages to compensate for these non-economic losses.
While pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate the injured person, they can be difficult to quantify. Unlike economic damages, which can be easily calculated based on actual expenses incurred, pain and suffering damages are based on more subjective factors.
As a result, always work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to accurately assess and value pain and suffering damages in a case.
Allow a Personal Injury Lawyer to Calculate Your Damages
Insurance companies might tell you what they believe your case is worth. Never believe them. They want to justify paying you as little as possible for your injuries.
Instead, seek help from a top rated personal injury law firm in San Jose immediately. Your lawyer should have the resources and experience to accurately calculate your economic, non-economic, past, and future damages. Then, they can begin negotiations with the insurance company to fight for the full value of your claim.
Never wait to seek damages for your injuries today with the right legal representation.