When considering whether or not to file a personal injury lawsuit due to a car accident, fall, or other injury, one of the first questions you might be asking is the worth of your case. This answer is going to vary based on the damages that you have, which just means the injuries that have cost you mentally, monetarily, and physically.
In the personal cases, the money damages are paid out to the injured person, who is called the plaintiff, by the company or individual that is legally responsible for the overall accident. These people are called the defendant. Damage awards are often agreed upon by the parties in a negotiated settlement. This settlement is discussed in a group that involves both parties, attorneys, and insurance companies as well. The group may be ordered by a judge or even a jury after a court trial.
Below are the different damages awards and how they might be affected by the action or inaction of the plaintiff.
Some of the personal damages seen in these lawsuits are known as compensatory, which simply means that they compensate the injured plaintiff for anything lost because of the accident or the injury. Compensatory damages come in award that intends to help the plaintiff feel whole once again after the injury from a monetary point of view. Putting a dollar figure on the accident is generally what happens, and some of the damages are awarded as a reimbursement for medical bills or property damage. It can be difficult to put a monetary value on suffering and pain of an individual. However, there are several types of compensatory damages found most often in these cases.
- Medical: The cost of medical care is awarded most often in these cases, and these damages are given as a reimbursement for the cost of any medical needed in the past and the future due to the accident.
- Income: Sometimes an accident has an impact on wages and salary because you are unable to work. These damages help cover any money lost previously and money that could be lost in the future because of the accident. The future income is compensated as a “loss of earning capacity”.
- Property Loss: Things like clothing, vehicles, and other things that are damaged or lost due to the accident can be up for reimbursement based on the personal injury lawsuit. You could be compensated for the fair market values of any property that is lost.
- Suffering or Pain: Any discomfort you might be facing due to the accident can result in compensation. Ongoing pain is also a part of this option.
- Emotional Distress: Serious accidents can often result in emotional distress, and these damages are compensated for any psychological impact from the accident or injury. These psychological impacts can include things like anxiety, fear, or loss of sleep.
- Loss of Enjoyment: When an accident prevents you from enjoying your daily activities like hobbies, recreational activities, or exercise, you can receive compensation as a loss of enjoyment.
- Loss of Consortium: Any impact of a plaintiff’s relationship with his/her spouse can be considered a loss of consortium, and they can receive compensation. This might include companionship or sexual relationship maintenance.
Some cases find that the defendant has a conduct that is deemed careless or egregious. In this case, the plaintiff might be awarded what is known as punitive damages along with the compensatory damages. Punitive damages come from rationale that is rather different than compensatory damages.
Typically, these damages are awarded to the plaintiff with the injury, but the goal of these damages is to somewhat punish the defendant for their conduct. It’s not unusual for the punitive damages to have a cap, but most are as much as millions of dollars.
Actions that Can Affect Awards
There are some cases that the injured person can diminish the overall amount that is available during the personal injury case.
- Comparative Negligence: Any partial fault for the accident by you can diminish the damage award. Most states will adhere to a comparative negligence standard that connects the damages to the degree of fault.
- Contributory Negligence: Some states, though a small few, have a concept called contributory negligence. This means you might not be able to recover any of the compensation awarded since you are partial to blame for the initial accident.
- Failure to Mitigate Damages: Plaintiffs in most states should take the necessary and reasonable steps to mitigate, or minimize, the impact financially that is caused by accident. If a plaintiff doesn’t get the necessary medical help needed, then the damages might be reduced since the injuries could be worse.
If you think you have a personal injury claim and are wondering what damages you could be awarded, schedule a free consultation with The Nech Law Firm by filling out the form below.