The Different Types of Damages You Can Claim in a Personal Injury Case
By Space Coast Daily // September 20, 2023
Every citizen has the responsibility to not cause harm to their fellow citizens, knowingly or unknowingly. However, some folks don’t pay too much attention to this responsibility and end up harming others.
While some escape with minimal damage, others end up with more severe injuries. The unfortunate ones lose their lives.
Victims need to be aware of their rights in these situations. The US judicial system has laid out laws to protect the rights of victims who have suffered losses due to the action or inaction of others. These laws are known as personal injury laws.
One important aspect of personal injury law is compensation. After an accident, a victim will be subjected to numerous losses. These losses are compensated through a personal injury claim. It can either be through an insurance company or the at-fault party. But calculating compensation in a personal injury claim isn’t as easy as it sounds.
You Need a Lawyer
You cannot simply refer to a few legal websites and think that you can claim fair compensation for your injuries. You need the services of a lawyer. Only a lawyer knows the intricacies of the legal system. They’ll know what works and what doesn’t. This makes them the right parties to fight for you.
The expertise of the law aside, you’ll need a lawyer to categorize the losses you have suffered. Yes, damages have categories, and each comes with its own subcategories.
The Different Types of Damages in Personal Injury Law
Damages in personal injury law are split into three. They are:
- Economic Damages
- Non-Economic Damages
- Punitive Damages
Each of these damages offers compensation for the different losses the victim has incurred. The help of a lawyer is essential here, as specific formulas and criteria come into play.
Every accident leads to financial losses, one way or another. It is not fair that you have to pay for someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Economic damages help with that. It offers compensation for the monetary losses the victim has suffered due to the accident.
The following damages fall under the category of economic damages:
- Medical Expenses
Accident victims are always asked to reach out for medical assistance immediately after an accident. This helps to treat existing injuries and diagnose hidden injuries that don’t show symptoms immediately (like whiplash). Receiving prompt treatment also proves that the accident was serious enough to warrant a hospital visit.
The visits to the hospital, medication expenses, surgery costs, and all other medical costs that the victim has incurred and will incur in the future are covered under medical expenses.
- Lost Wages
Accidents often make victims miss work. This can be anywhere from a few days for minor accidents to a few weeks or even months for major ones. The victim’s employer may not offer adequate days off for recovery.
Lost wages help recover the sum the victim would’ve earned if they hadn’t been involved in an accident. The inability of a person to perform their job duties as before also falls under this category.
- Property Damage
This is more common in accidents that involve vehicles. In addition to the passengers and drivers, the vehicle they were driving/traveling end up getting damaged in an accident. The sum spent to repair or replace the property damaged in an accident come under this category.
When talking about property, things like watches, jewelry, and buildings are considered as well.
- Assistive Services
An accident has the capability of changing a person’s life. This change can be either short-term or permanent. Something like a disability makes it impossible for a person to climb a flight of stairs in their home. In such instances, they will need additional help to carry out this task.
The sum spent on making the required changes to a person’s home comes under this category. The victim can also seek compensation for hiring professionals to assist them in day-to-day tasks.
- Funeral Expenses
In severe cases, victims may lose their lives in an accident. On top of the grief, the family members will have to bear the financial burden of holding the funeral and all the other expenses related to the death.
The sum surviving family members spend on the victim’s funeral is compensated under this category.
While economic damages compensate for the financial losses of an accident, non-economic damages cover emotional and pain-related losses. Even after recovering from their injuries, the victim may suffer from psychological trauma due to the accident. Not to forget the physical pain they may experience. These losses are compensated under non-economic losses.
The following damages fall under non-economic damages:
- Pain and Suffering
Injuries aside, a victim may experience pain and discomfort after an accident. This condition can even continue during and after the recovery period. Physical pain has a nasty effect on the victim’s everyday life.
Fortunately, pain and suffering under non-economic damages are used to compensate for this. The victim has to submit a testimonial from a healthcare practitioner or therapist to prove pain and suffering.
- Emotional Distress
Accidents cause emotional disturbances as well. This can either be in the form of PTSD or any other psychological condition that impacts the victim’s everyday activities.
A victim can claim compensation for emotional disturbances as well. They have to produce a statement from their therapist about how the accident has impacted their life. Maintaining a journal and recording their experiences also helps.
- Loss of Consortium/Loss of Enjoyment of Life
As said before, an accident can completely change a person’s life. This is especially true if the victim loses their life or suffers a disability.
The death of the victim leaves a void in the lives of the surviving family members. Though money cannot replace a person, compensation helps meet everyday expenses. The surviving family members can seek compensation under the loss of consortium for the companionship they will miss due to the death.
Victims who have been disabled or suffered an injury that doesn’t allow them to interact with their family like before can also seek compensation for non-economic damages.
Serious accidents can cause disfigurement. This is one of the most horrible injuries a person can suffer. The physical consequences aside, the victim will be subjected to humiliation as well. This forces victims to withdraw from activities in which they once actively participated.
Non-economic losses compensate for the emotional difficulties the victim suffers due to the disfigurement.
Most accidents happen due to the at-fault party’s negligence. However, some accidents happen due to the at-fault party’s gross recklessness or their intention to harm the victim. Once proved, the victim will be awarded punitive damages.
The goal behind punitive damages is to punish the at-fault party for their reckless behavior. The sum the victim receives as punitive damages is decided by the court. Sometimes, the severity of the damage is considered as well.
Knowledge about the different damages under personal injury laws helps a victim understand what they’re entitled to. A clear picture of what to expect makes the personal injury claim go much smoother. Not just that, general awareness also comes in handy when educating friends and loved ones.