As the victim of an accident that was not your fault, you have the right to pursue compensation from the liable party through a personal injury claim. In the claim, you demand compensation by listing your damages, or the harm you have suffered because of the liable party’s action. What sort of damages can you demand in the average personal injury claim? To begin, your potential damages will be split into two groups: economic and noneconomic.
Economic Vs. Noneconomic Damages
Economic damage in a personal injury claim is any financial harm that can be tracked using receipts, bills, or paystubs. In some circumstances, economic damages are called “real” damages because they are tied to a tangible amount of money spent or lost by the plaintiff. Economic damages can also factor in costs expected to be incurred in the future because of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Examples of economic damages often listed in a personal injury claim are:
- Past, current, and future hospitalization costs
- Future rehabilitative therapy costs
- Medication and prescription costs
- Wages lost due to being unable to work
- Cost of making living adjustments, like installing a wheelchair ramp
- Property damage repair costs, like vehicular repairs
On the other hand, noneconomic damage in a personal injury claim is any harm that cannot be linked directly or clearly to a tangible amount of money. Since noneconomic damages are based on abstract concepts and unknowns, calculating them can be difficult and usually requires the assistance of a highly experienced personal injury attorney. However, noneconomic damages can be valued the highest out of all damages in a claim because they deal with sensitive, devastating issues affecting the plaintiff, like the loss of a loved one.
Examples of noneconomic damages that can be included in a personal injury claim are:
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Lessened enjoyment of life
- Shortened life expectancy
- Loss of companionship
- Mental distress, like the onset of depression
What Are Punitive Damages?
In some personal injury cases, it may be appropriate to call for a type of noneconomic damages called punitive damages. As the name implies, punitive damages are meant to penalize the liable party for egregious wrongdoing and inexcusable recklessness. For example, if you were hurt in a trucking accident caused by a drunk truck driver who had a long history of intoxicated driving, then the trucker’s parent company could be ordered to pay punitive damages for continuing to allow that trucker to drive.
Like other noneconomic damages, punitive damages can be quite sizeable when handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. Punitive and noneconomic damages may be calculated by taking the sum of all economic damages and multiplying it by a factor deemed reasonable when considering all the plaintiff and their family have gone through. The more emotional distress caused by the defendant’s actions, the greater the multiplicative factor.
Insurance May Cap Rewarded Damages
A personal injury claim can resolve positively for the plaintiff in one of two ways: a settlement or a verdict. In a settlement, the defending party’s insurance company will offer a settlement amount to end the claim without taking the matter to court, where the topic becomes public. Settlements are usually the goal for a personal injury claim since it saves the plaintiff time and energy while guaranteeing they get something from the defendant. A skilled personal injury attorney should be retained to make certain settlement amounts offered are fair and not lowballed.
Oppositely, a verdict comes from the court after a personal injury claim becomes a lawsuit taken to trial. The jury hearing the case can rule in favor of the plaintiff and come up with they perceive to be a fair jury award to provide compensation for the plaintiff’s damages. Juries can essentially go as high as they want when it comes to calculating an award, but insurance policy limits often cap those amounts. That is to say if a jury wants to award you $100,000 for your injuries after a slip and fall accident at someone’s house, but the homeowner’s insurance policy caps at $50,000, then you would only be given that lowered amount. Once again, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is important to ensure your case has the best chance of securing the best possible jury award.
Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. handles personal injury claims for the wrongfully injured throughout Port Charlotte. Our attorneys can settle claims, but our reputation has been built on our successes as trial lawyers. If you need our law firm’s help with a case of your own, do not hesitate to call us at (941) 960-7225.