Determining how much your personal injury case is worth depends on the extent of your injuries and the facts surrounding your case. The value of a personal injury case is not just determined by medical bills and property damage. Many times, additional compensation can and should be awarded to an injured person as a result of physical and emotional damages, which can extend for years after the accident.
Compensatory damages, or actual damages, are intended to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries and losses. For example: If someone proves emotional distress was caused by the injury or loss, compensatory damages awarded may cover sleep loss, missed days at work, and therapy costs.
This can also include cost of medical care, future medical expenses, lost earnings if your injury has caused you to miss work temporarily or permanently, future loss of earnings, property damage, and any out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and resulting injury.
Medical damages include essentially any type of medical care associated with the accident, including your emergency room bills, physician statements, specialist care, and physical therapy. Property loss can include your vehicle, if you were involved in an auto accident, as well as other personal items damaged from the accident. You can request either reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of property lost as a result.
Compensatory damages also include a category called noneconomic or general damages. They are more personal in nature and depend greatly on the severity of the accident and resulting injuries. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, which compensates you for any pain or serious discomfort you incurred both during and after the accident.
If your injuries are severe and life-altering, pain and suffering can be significant. Noneconomic damages also include emotional distress damages, which compensate you specifically for psychological injuries sustained from your injury. Accidents can be traumatic experiences, resulting in psychological injuries such as anxiety, fear, PTSD and depression. Many times, these damages are on top of the physical pain and suffering.
Two other categories involved in noneconomic damages include loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium. Loss of enjoyment is meant to compensate you from the loss of being able to do hobbies and activities you once enjoyed before the accident. Loss of consortium compensates you if you are not able to maintain an intimate relationship with your partner due to your injuries.
In particularly severe accidents, you may be entitled to non-compensatory or punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the party that caused the injury due to his or her egregious conduct. Punitive damages are not commonly ordered for ordinary accidents or injuries, but they do get awarded if the accident was from a behavior the court wishes to discourage or prevent in the future, which is why the damages are meant to punish the party that caused the accident.
Calculating the Damages
When it comes to determining how much your total damages sustained are, attorneys and insurance companies often us various factors to evaluate a case. In general, they will use verifiable data such as medical bills, wage statements, computer programs, jury verdict reports, and their experience in dealing with similar cases. In determining what is fair for a particular case, depends on various factors, including:
- The severity of your injuries.
- What medical treatment you received.
- If you will be needing additional medical treatment.
- Your prognosis.
- How permanent your injuries may be; and
- The impact these injuries will have on your day-to-day life.
The compensation obtained in your personal injury case depends on the ability to prove that each of these costs have- or will be incurred by the plaintiff. We recommend documenting everything from the start- getting copies of your medical bills, old pay stubs to support loss of income, and reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney to get you the full and fair compensation for your case.