A Guide to Personal Injury Claim Damages

Posted on May 5th, 2018
By Steven Gursten

personal injury basics

Damages in a personal injury case are meant to compensate the victim. The award is intended to help restore the wronged party to “whole” again, financially, through monetary compensation. In some instances, damages are also awarded to punish the defendant who caused the accident.

Each state measures its damages differently. Factors like severity of injury, the victim’s age, and the kind of accident involved all play a role in determining the compensation allowed. The following six categories are damages you could be entitled to receive.

Medical Expenses

Seeking reimbursement of medical expenses is the most common damages request in personal injury claims. Victims of accidents and negligence can receive reimbursement for past medical expenses, in some cases immediately, and they may receive payment for all related future medical expenses. When considering medical expenses, think about not only what you’ve paid, or will likely pay for prescriptions, medical equipment, hospitalization, surgery, but all future treatment related to your injury.

Property Damage

Restitution for property damage is common and is typically measured by comparing market value of property before and after an accident. When property is destroyed, the plaintiff usually receives fair market value for that item – including automobiles. But, market value can be less than what a person owes on a car or other piece of property. So, awarded damages may in fact not completely restore a plaintiff to a “whole” financial state. Many of our clients are required to have “Gap” insurance to cover this loss.

Lost Wages

If you’ve been injured, you may lose earnings due to missed days at work. Lost earnings are the gross earnings you would have brought in if you were not injured. To receive these damages, you need to prove that you missed work hours, and you must show the total in wages lost. If you are forced to use personal, sick, or vacation time, you are generally allowed to recover lost wages for these days.

Loss of Earning Capacity

Many times, a person’s injury is long-lasting or permanent, in which case some or all income completely ceases. If you’ve been injured and you can no longer work, or are limited in the amount you can work, your attorney will likely seek loss of earning capacity and future earnings. To receive these damages, you must be able to show the amount of wages you’d normally receive had you been able to earn as usual over a determined time period. Future payment of these wages depends on a physician’s diagnosis of a permanent condition.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death damages are sought when injury leads to death. Family members, according to law, can ask for compensation for the loss of their loved one(s). These damages may include costs related to injury, death, and expenses or costs in the future. There is one strict requirement on this claim, however. Deceased persons must have been able to qualify for a personal injury lawsuit had they not perished from their injuries. Wrongful death damages are awarded to the deceased person’s estate, and some states allow individual recovery to family members based on how close they were to the deceased. Recovery also includes the costs to cover burial and any medical expenses family members might have paid. Of course, plaintiffs may also sue for punitive or emotional stress due to such loss; the amount and ability for such suits are typically determined by each state.

Loss of Consortium

The law restricts who can claim loss of consortium, whereas consortium refers to relations and services. Usually, a spouse of an injured person seeks loss of consortium, but sometimes children and even parents of the deceased have a claim. Damages are typically calculated on services lost by a loved one.

Some courts also award punitive damages for injury claims. It’s important to contact an attorney if you think you quality for punitive damages, because they’re not designed as compensation for a victim, but to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from similar conduct.

Victims of negligence are often entitled to other forms of compensation, which varies from state to state. If you have a question for yourself, a loved one or a friend, contact an attorney immediately.

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