If you sustain injuries in an amusement park accident, slip and fall accident, or bicycle accident, you may require months of medical treatment and therapy. You could miss time from work and may need to hire someone to help with household chores.
The damages caused by an accident vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. The value of those damages also depends on numerous factors. Understanding the types of damages available in a personal injury case can be useful when negotiating a settlement agreement for your injury claim.
The damages for an accident claim generally fall into one of three categories:
Economic Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
Economic damages are the financial losses that you incur because of an accident. Examples of economic damages include:
Cost of Medical Care and Treatment
The cost to diagnose and treat your injuries are included in a personal injury claim.
Examples of medical costs include, but are not limited to:
- Doctors’ bills
- Surgeries and hospitalizations
- Ambulance and emergency room services
- Physical, occupational, vocational, and other therapies
- Medications and medical equipment
- Emotional counseling and therapy
If you sustain a permanent impairment or disability, you could also receive compensation for ongoing medical care and treatment.
Loss of Income
Many accident victims miss time from work because of the accident and their injuries. The loss of income may also be included in a personal injury claim. Loss of income can include salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and other forms of income.
When a person sustains a permanent disability or impairment, loss of income might also include future wages. It may also include decreases in the earning potential if you cannot work full-time or earn the same income you did before the accident.
Personal Care and Assistance
If you require help with daily activities or household chores, those expenses may also be included in your claim. Personal care can include bathing, dressing, and feeding. Help with household chores can also be a reasonable expense for damages if your injuries prevent you from performing those chores.
Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Other expenses that might be included in a personal injury claim include the cost of travel to and from medical appointments. If you need to modify your home or vehicle because of permanent disability, that expense might also be included in your claim. Your lawyer helps you determine which expenses might be included and how to document those expenses.
Non-Economic Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
Non-economic damages represent the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident and your injuries.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress and mental anguish, including depression, PTSD, anxiety, night terrors, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
- Inconvenience and embarrassment
- Loss of marital relations (loss of consortium)
Documenting pain and suffering damages can be challenging.
Each person suffers differently after an accident or injury. For example, a person with a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuries experiences a different level of suffering than a person who sustains a mild case of whiplash or a broken finger. However, that does not mean that a person who sustains a minor injury does not suffer significantly after an accident.
You can help build a case for maximum compensation for pain and suffering by keeping a pain and suffering journal. Your journal should include details about your daily life after the accident, such as your pain levels and activities that you cannot perform because of the injury.
Journal entries may also include your emotional and mental state. You can also include notes about how your injuries impact your relationship with family and friends and your ability to participate in family activities and gatherings.
Punitive Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
Punitive damages are not awarded in many personal injury cases. They “punish” the at-fault party instead of compensating the victim for losses or damages. These damages are only awarded in cases involving the willful, wanton disregard for others’ safety or gross negligence.
An example of a case that might result in punitive damages would be a traumatic DUI accident or if a person intentionally released a dangerous animal that injured a child. Punitive damages are awarded on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts of the case.
How Are Damages Valued for a Personal Injury Claim?
The value of a personal injury claim depends on the facts of the case.
Numerous factors can affect the value of a claim, such as:
- The type of injuries sustained by the victim
- Whether the victim sustained disabilities or permanent impairments
- The total of the economic damages incurred by the victim
- Whether the victim could be partially at fault for the cause of the injury
- The availability of insurance coverage for the claim or personal assets of the at-fault party that can be attached for a judgment
- The strength of the evidence or the amount of evidence to support the claim
- Whether the case goes to trial or settles outside of court
Your lawyer works to maximize the value of your injury claim by carefully documenting all damages.
Valuing Economic Damages
The value of your economic damages is the total of your financial losses. You need receipts, bills, invoices, and other proof of the amount of money you lost and the expenses you incurred because of the accident.
However, you may also be entitled to compensation for future income loss and ongoing medical or personal care. In that case, your attorney may retain medical experts and financial experts to estimate the future damages accurately.
Valuing Non-Economic Damages
Placing a value on a person’s pain and suffering can be difficult. There is no standard formula used to calculate pain and suffering damages.
Many insurance companies and juries use a multiplier to calculate the value of pain and suffering. A number between 1.5 and five is assigned to the claim based on the severity of the injuries and other factors. The total of financial losses is multiplied by that number to calculate pain and suffering damages.
Per diems may also be used to value non-economic damages. A per diem is a daily amount awarded to the person for pain and suffering. The per diem is multiplied by the number of days between the accident date and the date the doctor releases the person from care. The result is the value of the person’s non-economic damages.
Call Our Lexington Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If another person caused your injury, we want to help. A personal injury lawyer in Lexington will fight aggressively for your rights. We fight to get you the maximum compensation for damages available in your case.
Contact our office to schedule your free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case. We are here to provide legal advice, support, and guidance as you continue to heal from accident injuries.