Personal injury claims are common but can be notoriously scary to navigate, particularly when it comes to calculating damages, especially with so much at stake. When someone experiences harm due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, there are several types of damages that may be sought after. Knowledge of the different types of damages can be of utmost useful for personal injury victims, which should allow them to get a better understanding of the scary legal process and the amount they can expect or might be entitled to.
Simply put, damages refer to compensation paid to a personal injury victim by the responsible party. These damages are monetary compensation intended to restore the victim as much as is possible to their state before the injury occurred. The different types of damages can vary depending on the type of injury and the circumstances surrounding the case and Bey & Associates can help navigate that. The most claimed damages include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
The aim is to explain the different types of damages that a personal injury claimant or attorney may seek, what they entail, and how they may be limited by the law. The deeper the understanding, injured parties and their attorneys can better assess what potential compensation might be available to them and help determine the best course of action when seeking justice.
1. Introduction to personal injury claims
Claims can arise from a wide range of situations, including car accidents, slip and falls, medical errors, and product liability cases. These claims are made to provide for injured individuals the damages they have suffered as a result of another’s negligence or intentional misconduct for which they have a civil duty to uphold. Educating yourself of the legal process of personal injury claims, you end up helping yourself in navigating the complexities of the legal system. This way you increase the likelihood that receive the correct compensation.
2. Compensatory damages: economic and non-economic damages
Compensatory damages are one type that is very common. Compensatory damages are what individuals seek when they’ve been harmed due to someone else’s negligence. Economic damages, like medical expenses, lost wages and property damage are a type of compensatory damages that calculate the plaintiff’s financial losses resulting from the injury. Non-economic damages, like pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. are also a type of compensation that seeks to provide monetary compensation for the harm incurred, but don’t have a clear financial cost.
3. Economic damages: medical expenses, lost wages, property damage
Economic damages refer to the monetary losses and more specifically could include the cost of medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained in the accident, as well as wages lost from missed work. Although, you should note that economic damages are relatively straightforward to calculate and more often than not need to be backed up by hard evidence, a crucial component in any personal injury claim. Build a strong case for economic damages, by collecting and documenting all relevant financial records, such as medical bills and pay statements.
4. Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, emotional distress
These damages are not always related to any specific financial losses incurred by the plaintiff due to the injury, but instead, compensate them for the intangible effects that the injury brought on their well-being. Pain and suffering damages typically cover physical discomfort and limitations caused by the injury, as well as any psychological effects, for example, anxiety or depression. Sometimes more difficult to prove, emotional distress damages, on the other hand, are aimed at compensating the plaintiff for psychological harm such as fear, anxiety, humiliation, or loss of enjoyment of life.
5. Punitive damages: awarded in cases of intentional or malicious behavior
In the event of such incidents, victims might be eligible for compensation that covers some or all medical bills, lost wages, and other damages as a consequence of the accident. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of intentional or malicious behavior, and you’ll need to have the nuances surrounding the legal process. These damages are made to punish the person at fault for their actions and to stop others from engaging in such behavior, so in order to receive punitive damages, a victim must prove that the wrongdoer intentionally wanted to harm or exhibited a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
6. Nominal damages: awarded when no actual harm was done
Among the type of damages that may be applicable in your case is nominal damages. This type of compensation is awarded in situations where no actual harm was done, but where the defendant has still committed a legal wrong. Essentially, nominal damages serve as a symbolic recognition of rights that have been violated, without any monetary compensation for actual losses incurred. Although the number of nominal damages awarded might be small and even negligible, they can still provide some measure of vindication and acknowledgment of rights.
7. Special damages: awarded for specific, quantifiable losses
One category of damages is special damages, which are awarded for particular, quantifiable losses. These can pertain to items such as medical bills, lost wages, and even property damage. The injured person with the proper know how, can get the actual expenses they incurred as a result of the accident. To receive special damages, the injured party must provide proper documentation and evidence of the exact amount of the losses suffered. This usually entails work on your part, such as gathering medical bills, pay stubs, and repair estimates.
8. General damages: awarded for non-specific, intangible losses
General damages are awarded for non-specific, intangible losses and are quite quantifiable, but not necessarily based on actual financial expenditures or receipts in all circumstances. General damages normally are compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life due to injury or disability. The extent and severity of such losses are subjective though and can vary greatly depending on the individual’s circumstances and how well they are presented.
9. Collateral source rule: how compensation from other sources affects damages
Essentially, it usually means that if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence/fault, and you already received compensation for your injuries from a source other than the defendant, the defendant in such cases cannot use that compensation as a reason to reduce the damages they are responsible for paying. This includes collecting compensation from an insurance company or government programs like Medicare or Medicaid. The rationale behind this rule is to make sure that the injured party is fully compensated for the loss, regardless of any other sources of payment they may receive.
10. Statute of limitations: time limits for filing a personal injury claim.
The laws regarding the statute of limitations vary from state to state, but the general rule is that there is a limited amount of time in which a certain claim can be allowed to file. A claim needs to be filed within this time frame, otherwise your right is forfeited. An absolute worst-case scenario, failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations can result in the case being totally dismissed without ever being heard, leaving the injured party without any legal recourse.
So here we are, understanding the different types of damages explained in regard to what can claimed in a personal injury case. Economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, can be easily calculated, while non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, require careful consideration of the individual circumstances of the case. Although, it’s usually better to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney that can help with all types of damages and are identified, properly accounted for, and lead to a fair and just compensation for the victim’s losses.