Personal Injury Damages, What Are You Owed?
When a client has a personal injury as a result of another’s intentional or negligent actions, their attorney’s job is to collect damages on their behalf. When talking about damages in a personal injury lawsuit, an attorney is referring to the set of things that were negatively impacted because of another’s act. For example, in a car accident, damages will almost always include property damage (the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle), medical expenses (the cost of past and future medical bills), and pain and suffering (the monetary value of the negative physical and emotional experiences endured). However, these are not the only types of damages available to the victim of a personal injury. According to the law, a tortfeasor (the individual who did the wrong thing) is responsible for making the individual who suffered as a result of the tortfeasor’s actions whole. This is usually represented by a monetary value that the individual is ordered to pay.
If you were involved in a personal injury as the result of another’s negligence, you should take note of every way your life has been affected by that injury, and then give that information to your attorney. It’s the lawyer’s job to then categorize your suffering, according to the law, and get you compensated for it.
Types of Damages:
Nominal damages are used where a tort – a wrongful act leading to civil liability – has occurred but no compensable loss has resulted. A person has done something wrong, but the person who it was done to didn’t suffer a harm that is compensable. For example, if an individual asked if they could cross through your backyard and you told them no, but they continued to do so. Here, you’d be able to sue them for trespassing, but you didn’t suffer anything with economic value. But you can still get a judgment that acknowledges the wrong done, generally in the amount of $1.00.
While it may seem like a waste of time, these judgments can still be useful. In the example above, the judgment could be used to defeat an easement asserted by the Defendant against your land.
In a personal injury case, claimants cwill be seeking compensatory damages. The purpose of these damages are to restore you to the status quo. They are to put you in the same position you were in previous to the incident. The jury is supposed to award just and reasonable compensation for the harm done due to the defendant’s tortious conduct. The types of damages recoverable fall under economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include anything which has a quantifiable economic value. This includes loss of income, medical expenses, property damage, loss of future income, cost of assistance, and so on. The list of economic damages is not listed. As long as it could be shown that the expense would or will be incurred because of the harm, that it was foreseeable prior to the incident, and the defendant was the cause of it occurring, then it is generally recoverable.
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate personal injury victims for intangible harms resulting from injury. These damages place an economic value on the pain and suffering that one incurred as a result of the injury they suffered. The harms here can be wide-ranging. A personal injury victim should seek recovery not only for the pain incurred as a result of the injury, but the inconvenience of the process. A number can be placed on the loss of joy one is able to experience because of the injury. Where a person’s quality of life has decreased an experienced attorney should seek monetary damages to compensate for the loss.
You may have heard a reference to statutory damages in the past. In a personal injury lawsuit, statutory damages generally will not come into play. The damages recoverable in a personal injury suit are those compensatory damages discussed above. Statutory damages, refer to the money recoverable due to some wrong set out by law. The amount of the recoverable money is either going to be specifically stated or within a range. Where the wrong done has been proven, the amount of money dictated by statute almost always must be awarded to the person who suffered the harm.
There are however, statutes that restrict the amount of money that is available in a personal injury lawsuit. Generally, these are a result of tort reform, or created as a way of punishing an individual for not doing something the law requires.
For instance, if you were the victim of an auto accident, but were not carrying the minimum amount of insurance coverage as required under California law, then you would not be eligible to recover non-economic damages. That is, you would not be awarded any money for your pain and suffering, or mental anguish.
When someone is talking about exemplary damages, they are referring to punitive damages. This is as the word sounds, you are making an example of the at-fault driver, or you are ordering them to pay as a way of punishing the driver.
Although this may sound highly appealing when the person who caused your accident forgot to yield when you had the right-of-way, punitive damages probably wouldn’t apply there.
In order to support an award of punitive damages, the person who caused your harm must have done so by acting in an egregious or despicable manner. The type of behavior that caused your injuries must have been so beyond the bounds of human decency that no reasonable person would find it acceptable in civilized society. That is to say, they must have really messed up.
For example, an at-fault driver who was under the influence of alcohol is, generally, going to be liable for punitive damages. We say generally here, because even drunk-drivers can avoid paying punitive damages. The legal standard is much higher.
We Can Help
The attorneys at Haffner & Morgan can help you every step of the way with your personal injury. We take the time to understand the full extent of your injuries, and how you have been affected, so that we can seek the compensation you deserve.
The lawyers will be able to take over negotiations with the defendant or their insurance company, leaving you to focus on treating your injuries and fully recovering your body. Strong and aggressive negotiating from the attorneys at Haffner & Morgan can bring the best results for your case. Where insurance companies are not willing to negotiate fairly, or settle in an amount that allows for your full recovery and just compensation for your pain and suffering, Haffner & Morgan have the experience necessary to take your case to trial.
The information provided in this blog is not meant to be legal advice. It is provided as an informative guide only. If you have any questions regarding a personal injury, contact a lawyer today. An experienced attorney will have a strong understanding of the process and usually can inform you at no cost. The attorneys at Haffner & Morgan offer no cost consultations and are happy to answer any questions you may have.