What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

filing a personal injury lawsuit

When you have been injured in an accident that was caused by another party, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. In the legal world, these are referred to as damages. Depending on the nature and extent of those injuries and losses, damages will differ for each individual.

Generally speaking, there are a few different types of damages or categories of damages:

  • Economic damages, or special compensatory damages (special damages), compensate the injured party for costs they have incurred or may incur in the future because of the accident. These include things such as medical bills, reimbursement for lost wages, and reimbursement for personal property damage.
  • Non-economic damages, or “general” compensatory damages, compensate the injured party for less quantifiable things such as their “pain and suffering” and mental anguish.
  • Punitive damages are specifically designed to punish the at-fault party for their actions.

Most personal injury claims revolve around the accident victim’s economic and non-economic damages. Whereas economic damages are more easily verified and supported, non-economic damages usually require a more subjective approach.

Medical Expenses, Both Current and Future

Medical expenses are one of the primary damages in a personal injury claim. These expenses include the costs for medical care required to treat the individual for their injuries and their recovery, as well as potential future medical care that may be needed as it relates to those injuries.

Compensation for medical expenses includes any emergency transportation or intervention, diagnostics and imaging, hospital stays, surgery, medications, necessary medical equipment, physical therapy, and in the case of catastrophic injuries, more extensive remedies. These must be supported by hospital and doctor bills, pharmacy receipts, and receipts for any other related expenses.

Some injuries may have possible future medical consequences. Depending on the individual, the severity of the injuries and other variables, possible future medical costs may be considered in the compensation.

Current and Future Lost Wages

While hospitalized or recuperating, an injured individual may not be able to work or may have to take time off for particular treatments. The value of those lost wages can be factored into the compensation.

If the injury has been disabling and the injured victim is unable to work in their previous career, compensation may consider their loss of earning capacity. This figure can consider factors such as overtime, bonuses, or other potential income that the victim had earned in the past and will no longer have access to. Financial experts are often employed to help determine the value of lost earning capacity.

Property Damages

Depending on the accident, there may have been damage to personal property. For instance, in a car accident, the victim’s car may have been damaged or even totaled. Compensation will consider the cost to repair or replace the car, including any personal items inside, as well as the cost to rent another car while it was being repaired or replaced.

“Pain and Suffering” and Emotional Anguish

While economic damages can be supported with quantifiable evidence, there are those damages that cannot. “Pain and suffering” and emotional anguish are two of these non-economic or general damages.

These damages include:

  • Physical pain resulting from the injuries caused by the accident;
  • Physical pain resulting from the necessary treatment for these injuries;
  • Mental and psychological distress caused by the accident or injuries.

Quantifying damages such as “pain and suffering,” mental anguish, and emotional distress will depend on many factors, including the overall health of the injured party, the severity of the injuries, and the physical, mental, and emotional toll the incident has taken. Supportive evidence can include a doctor’s notes and opinion, medical evidence, photos of the injuries, a pain diary kept by the victim, or a diagnosis or notes kept by a therapist or other mental health professional. Evidence that can be used to support these damages include a doctor’s notes and opinion, any medical evidence, photos of the injuries, a pain diary kept by the victim, or a diagnosis and notes kept by a therapist or other mental health professional.

Wrongful Death Cases

When someone is killed in an accident or intentional act, a wrongful death lawsuit enables specific surviving family members to collect damages. Wrongful death damages are not meant to compensate a family for the loss of their loved one, but are meant to ease the financial burden of their loss. In a wrongful death claim, damages can include

  • Any medical expenses incurred before the family member died
  • Funeral costs, burial, or cremation costs that the family incurred
  • Pain and suffering the deceased loved one may have suffered prior to their death
  • Any income that would have been provided by the deceased in the care of the family
  • The value of services that the deceased family member may have provided, such a child care
  • The loss of the care, guidance, and nurturing that the deceased family member would have provided
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium

In a wrongful death claim, loss of companionship and loss of consortium may be claimed by the spouse, partner, or other close family. These damages are meant to financially compensate for the loss of a close and intimate relationship with the deceased individual.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are very different from other damages in personal injury cases. Whereas compensatory damages are designed to make the injured person “whole” again after an accident, punitive damages are specifically designed to punish the at-fault party for their wrongdoing. These damages are usually only considered in matters of extreme wrongful behavior and are meant to send a message to deter the at-fault individual and others from the same behavior.

Getting the Guidance of a Colorado Springs Personal Injury Lawyer

When you have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or careless actions of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Even if you have been offered an insurance settlement, it may be insufficient to pay for your expenses today or down the road. Without significant negotiation, personal injury insurance settlements are rarely adequate.

Call the experienced Colorado Springs personal injury attorneys at Peakstone Law Group, LLC. We will evaluate your accident claim and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries, whether that is through a fair settlement or before a jury in a court of law. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. You pay nothing until we recover compensation on your behalf.

Life happens. Let us help.