In personal injury cases, you can receive financial compensation for the losses you suffered as the result of an injury. The legal term for this compensation is damages.
There are many kinds of personal injury compensation. No matter where you are in your case, it is important for you to have a thorough understanding of the type of compensation you are fighting for with the help of your personal injury attorney.
Damages are usually divided into two main types. These are compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages compensate the injured party for the costs related to the injury. Compensatory damages are usually available in almost all personal injury cases.
Punitive damages punish the responsible party for injuring the injured party. The punitive damages are not related to the type of injury you or a loved one has suffered. Punitive damages are not awarded for every case, and they are awarded less than compensatory damages.
These are the two main types of personal injury compensation, and they encompass all other types of compensation you can receive except for workers’ compensation. We will examine compensatory damages.
Personal Injury and Compensatory Damages
All personal injury cases can help clients recover compensatory damages. The following list of damages is not exhaustive. These items are not the complete list of damages that an injured party may plead in a personal injury case.
Special Compensatory Damages
Special compensatory damages are called “economic damages,” and this type of personal injury compensation includes quantifiable, out-of-pocket expenses. You collect special compensatory damages when you are being reimbursed for the items you had to pay for or the income you lost due to your accident.
Special compensatory damages include past and future medical expenses. It is important for you to organize the receipts, bills, and documents associated with expenses relating to hospital stays, documentation, receipts, and physical therapy.
It is also important to keep records of any physical therapy sessions, rehabilitation, and pain management bills. You also want to tally all the expenses related to doctor’s appointments, prescription medications, and nursing home care.
Lastly, do not forget to include the costs of medical transportation and increased living expenses.
Special compensatory damages also include expenses associated with the damage of property, including repair and replacement. The court also considers past and future lost wages and lost earning capacity when calculating special compensatory damages.
Loss of wages and lost earning capacity both refer to the wages you lost due to the injuries you suffered up to the point of the trial date. This amount also includes the wages your injury will keep you from earning in the future.
Special compensatory damages also include the loss of irreplaceable items. These items include the loss of a piece of property such as a family heirloom. You may be able to receive additional compensation for the lost item beyond its initial value.
Expenses associated with canceled or altered trips are also included in special compensatory damages. If you were planning a large or international trip before you became injured, then you may claim this value in your special compensatory damages. If your injury hindered you from being able to keep your original plans, then you may deserve financial compensation for any losses you were unable to recoup.
General Compensatory Damages
General compensatory damages are not usually quantifiable. General compensatory damages include long-term physical pain that results from an injury or the medical treatment of the injury. Mental anguish and emotional distress are also included in the category of general compensatory damages.
Lower quality of life is also included in the calculation of general compensatory damages. Personal injury victims are often unable to enjoy daily life the way they enjoyed it in the past. This type of damage is awarded to victims who suffered an amputation as a result of their injuries.
Loss of enjoyment of life is another category falling under general compensatory damages. Victims of personal injury may not be able to participate in the activities that they previously enjoyed. They may not be able to take their children to basketball games, play an instrument, or participate in a sport.
The injured party may also claim damages for loss of consortium and companionship. They may also claim damages for physical disfigurement and physical impairment.
General damages are often most confusing to the layperson.
Wrongful Death Damages
These damages are applicable only in wrongful death cases. They are a combination of special compensatory damages and general compensatory damages. These include funeral and burial costs, the cost of medical care before the wrongful death; the loss of consortium and companionship; the loss of financial contribution, and emotional distress and mental anguish of the surviving family members.
Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the injured party for their losses. These damages punish the responsible party for the personal injury or wrongful death of a loved one. If the court determines that the amount of compensatory damages awarded to you does not adequately deter the responsible party from committing the same act again in the future, then the court may award the injured party punitive damages.
The court usually wants to see that a responsible party acted with maliciousness or gross negligence, committed a crime such as assault or fraud, or caused extensive financial issues. Persons involved in high-profile cases related to wealthy parties may see courts award punitive damages to make an example out of an institution or wealthy person.
Inability to Pursue a Career
The injured party may also recover damages if the injury is so severe and destructive that the injured party will not be able to pursue their intended career. The damages amount should reflect the amount that would have been earned but less the amount the injured party will earn from any alternative employment.
Expert witness testimony from trained economists will be necessary to prove how much would have been earned by the injured party. Testimony from the witness’s family may be relevant because they knew about the injured party’s plans to pursue a specific career. They will also understand how far the injured party has advanced in pursuing those career plans.
Damages is a complex area of law, and you need to understand that an experienced attorney can help you determine the exact amount of damages to plead in your complaint. When you file a legal claim, you want to have someone on your side who will help acquire the greatest amount of financial compensation you can obtain.
The issue of damages is sometimes litigated independently of the other claims in a lawsuit. You need to be prepared to argue and fight for your right to plead a specific amount of damages. You can be prepared to do this when you have a competent legal professional representing you in a court of law.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with an Austin Personal Injury Attorney
If you have suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as you can. The Patel Firm is a Texas personal injury law firm that knows how to get our clients the compensation they deserve under the law. Call us today at (361) 400-2036 to schedule a free case evaluation.