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Lawsuits & Litigation

Compensations in a Personal Injury Case

— June 24, 2022

In contrast to compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded when a defendant commits deliberate, malicious, or fraudulent acts that cause harm to another person.

A person who has been physically hurt or injured due to the negligence of another has the right to file a personal injury claim against the party at fault. But the big question here is: how do you evaluate the financial implications of the incident and injuries sustained? How do you calculate the damages in a personal injury case? Do you handle your claims on your own or do you hire a personal injury attorney?

The term “damages” refers to a unique legal structure that enables an injury victim to receive monetary compensation for physical, mental, financial, and emotional harm caused by someone else’s carelessness or breach of their duty of care.

Types of Personal Injury Damage 

While different states may categorize personal injury compensation differently, you may be entitled to one or more of the following types of damages following a successful personal injury case:

1. Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are the monetary compensation you receive for an injury or accident caused by another person or party’s negligence. Even if they claim that they had no intention of harming you, you would not be in this predicament if not for their recklessness or mistake, so they must pay.

Pursuing compensatory damages entails evaluating whether or not a contract or duty of care existed and, if so, what conditions were violated by the liable parties. Both parties are entitled to make a case for the severity and extent of the breach and the resulting damages.

Compensatory damages are further classified into:

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover the financial costs associated with an injury. They are unique to each victim and vary considerably between parties. 

As economic damages are meant to compensate the victim for any loss or expense related to their injury, there is no limit to the type of claims or the amount that the injured party can recover.

Economic damages typically cover:

  • Earnings lost due to time away from work
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Loss of domestic/household services (if victim was a homemaker) 
  • Expenses associated with child care (if the victim was the primary caretaker for their children)
  • Cost of medical treatment
  • Immediate and long-term medical care
  • Vehicle loss and the associated costs of alternate modes of transportation

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages pertaining to non-quantifiable damages that resulted in a significant loss or caused suffering to the injured party. Personal injury victims are expected to bear at least some non-economic damages.

The most common forms of non-economic damages are: 

  • Mental pain and agony
  • Physical pain and suffering 
  • Loss of enjoyment or diminished quality of life
  • Reputational damage

2. Nominal Damages

Plaintiffs are awarded nominal damages if they prove that the actions of the other party caused them harm, but the court rules the suffering or injury to be minor or insignificant.

The monetary compensation for nominal damages is usually just a few dollars. The primary goal of nominal damages is to demonstrate in court records that the defendant’s behavior was improper, despite the fact that there was no real or significant harm done.

The court also may award nominal damages if the plaintiff is unable to establish the value of their losses as a result of the defendant’s negligent or wrongful behavior. 

3. Punitive Damages

In contrast to compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded when a defendant commits deliberate, malicious, or fraudulent acts that cause harm to another person.

Punitive damages are intended to dissuade the defendant from repeating the offense and deter others from engaging in the same activity, but not all personal injury cases warrant punitive damages. They are granted to an aggrieved plaintiff only when the defendant behavior has exhibited vile or despicable behavior, such as: serious battery, sexual assault, or extensive financial harm caused by fraudulent activities. 

Also, even if the jury imposes high punitive damages on the at-fault party, the judge may reduce the amount based on the compensatory damages awarded to the victim.

4. Wrongful Death Damages

Excessive Work Hours Lead to Significant Health Problems, Death
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Wrongful death claims compensate the surviving family and loved ones of the victim. This is a unique type of damage that typically includes compensatory damages 

Wrongful death damages are likely to cover the following:

  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Expenses associated with pre-death medical care
  • Emotional anguish endured by surviving family members and loved ones
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of services and assistance

The Statute of Limitations and Personal Injury Cases

Time is of the essence when pursuing compensation for personal injury cases. This is because personal injury lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations in most states. If you fail to file your claim before the statute of limitations expire, you may not be able to obtain compensation through a lawsuit.

Ultimately, the outcome of your personal injury case and the possibility of claiming any or all of these damages will vary depending on the facts of your case and how you establish them. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can provide valuable insight into how your case might fare in court and increase your chances of a much favorable outcome.

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