Injuries are painful, inconvenient, and sometimes debilitating or even catastrophic. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of life. However, some injuries result from carelessness, recklessness, negligence, or even the deliberate actions of another person or party. When you suffer an injury at someone else’s hands, you deserve compensation. The amount of compensation you deserve depends on your damages.
What Are the Three Types of Damages?
There are three damages:
The financial and personal losses incurred by victims of negligence are known as compensatory damages, which include economic and non-economic damages. You can receive compensation for your compensatory damages either through a settlement or a jury award.
Personal injury claimants can only receive punitive damages if the case goes to court. Punitive damages are only available in a few personal injury claims. They only apply to exceptional circumstances to punish the person or party who caused the claimant’s injury.
Economic or Special Damages
Economic or special damages are monetary losses directly related to the injury that can be documented and calculated. They have an inherent value. Establishing special damages in a personal injury claim is typically a matter of collecting and organizing receipts, bills, and other documentation showing the actual costs you incurred due to your injury.
Typically, you can calculate your special damages by adding up the costs of your:
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Personal property losses
Medical Expenses for Injury Diagnosis and Treatment
You will want to retain and provide your personal injury lawyer with all of your medical bills and EOBs (explanation of benefits).
Your economic damages include your medical costs, such as those for:
- EMS/Ambulance services
- Hospital stay and emergency room charges
- Hospital, physicians’, and specialists’ bills
- Outpatient physician fees
- Diagnostic tests such as lab work, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and others
- Physician fees for interpreting the diagnostic test results
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation charges
- Chiropractic treatments
You may recover reimbursement for the costs of all your medical treatment, starting immediately after the accident, through the present day. Your award should also provide additional compensation for more severe injuries that will require medical care in the future.
For example, severely injured victims, including those with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries, often need specialized medical care and therapies over a lengthy period.
Depending on the injury, these special therapies can include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation
You should also include nursing care and other medical expenses necessary for future care.
Mental Health Services
Being involved in a traumatic accident and suffering traumatic injuries can lead to emotional distress, depression, and anxiety. For many personal injury claimants, these conditions need professional treatment and support. Mental health treatment costs related to accidents or injuries are considered economic damages.
You can seek mental health compensation for:
- Psychologists or psychiatrist bills
- Counseling sessions a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) or other mental health care professional
Lost Wages, Income, or Earning Capacity
You deserve compensation for wages and other earnings lost due to the accident or your injuries, beginning from your first missed day of work or the date of the injury to the present day and for as long as you remain unable to work.
Severe injuries resulting in permanent disability to a working adult or child necessitate claims for loss of future earning capacity. A personal injury attorney will likely hire experts to predict how much the injured individual might have made before retirement age had they not suffered the disabling injury.
Your personal injury lawyer can prove lost income with an employment verification letter stating your regular pay rate, the hours you lost, and the overall compensation you lost by being unable to work due to your injury. You will also want to ask your employer to verify all lost income and even your benefits and other perks.
For instance, you deserve to recover all types of lost income, including:
- Missed overtime opportunities
- Sick leave used
- Vacation days used
- Lost accrual of vacation or sick days
- Meal allowance
- Fuel allowance
- Gym memberships
- Use of company vehicle
- Employer contribution to insurance premiums
- Employer contribution to retirement plans
Medical bills, mental healthcare, and lost wages are likely not the only financial losses you suffered due to your injury. You are also entitled to receive financial recovery of your out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and your injury.
Depending on your circumstances, these related expenses might include:
- Medical devices and supplies include crutches, wheelchairs, slings, bandages, etc.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications
- Fuel and parking fees for traveling to medical appointments
- Mileage for travel both to and from medical appointments
- Payments for a rental car if yours is totaled or needs repairing
Retain any receipts for any purchases related to your injury and medical treatment, beginning on the date of your accident. If necessary, you can also estimate future out-of-pocket expenses.
You are also allowed to seek compensation for household replacement services, such as:
- Meal services
- Laundry services
- Lawn care
- Snow removal
- Pet care and dog walking
Replacement services are qualified expenses when you pay another individual to handle the tasks you usually would have done on your own if you had not suffered an injury. Ensure you obtain a detailed statement or receipt for each service you had to hire out so that you can prove these types of damages.
Vehicle and Personal Property Damage
If you sustained your injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you can file a property damage claim for the expense of repairing your vehicle. On the other hand, if your car was totaled, you can file a claim for an amount that represents its fair market value.
Even if your injuries didn’t arise from a car accident, you still have the right to seek financial recovery for any personal property damaged or destroyed in the incident.
Damaged or destroyed personal property can include:
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses
- Clothing items
- Electronic devices, including laptops, smartphones, earbuds, speakers, GPS devices, etc.
- School supplies
Furthermore, in most states, the law also considers your beloved pet or service animal as personal property. As such, you can seek compensation for vet bills or the loss of animals arising from the accident that caused your injuries.
General or Non-Economic Damages
General damages include non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and scarring or disfigurement. The tricky part about general damages is that you don’t have an itemized bill or receipts to help convey their specific value. They don’t have a pre-assigned value like a medical bill, and the court cannot calculate their impacts simply like lost wages.
You might not qualify for general damages compensation, depending on the circumstances of your injury. For instance, no-fault auto insurance and workers’ compensation insurance won’t provide money for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. However, if you live in a no-fault state and your injuries are severe enough to surpass the policies threshold, you have the right to pursue full financial recovery from the at-fault driver’s policy.
Likewise, suppose your workplace injury resulted from the conduct of a negligent third party (not your employer). In that case, you also have the right to seek full monetary recovery from the third party and whatever workers’ comp benefits you deserve.
Remember that an experienced personal injury attorney should always handle complex or severe personal injury cases. There is a lot at stake if someone mishandles your claim or it gets denied. If you or a family member suffered severe or catastrophic injuries, you want to take every step to ensure you receive full compensation for all your damages. The good news is that most personal injury attorneys provide a no-obligation consultation to the injured person or their family members.
#1. Pain and Suffering
Generally speaking, pain and suffering refer to the physical pain and discomfort the victim suffered when the accident occurred, any future suffering caused by the injury itself, and any necessary treatments. Damages for pain and suffering vary depending on the type and duration of the injury.
The more the injured individual will experience pain now and in the future, the higher the compensation they should receive.
Pain and suffering includes symptoms like:
- Inflicted pain when the injury occurred and throughout the entire recovery period, no matter how long it might be
- Discomfort arising from any needed treatments or therapies
- Nausea and vomiting arising from pain or necessary medications
- Other side effects of medications
- Chills or shaking from shock
- Complications arising from your injury, such as an infected burn
No two people will suffer the pain of an injury the same way.
Factors that might impact pain and suffering compensation include elements like:
- Present and future surgeries
- The types of treatment and medication prescribed
- The expectation of a protracted and challenging recovery
#2. Loss of Enjoyment of Life
If and how much compensation you can receive for loss of enjoyment of life will depend on the value you give the activities you’re unable to enjoy now and in the future.
You can claim loss of present and future enjoyment of:
- Household tasks such as cooking, pet care, and child care
- Daily exercise
- The company of friends
- Worship and other religious services
- Other forms of recreation, such as camping or fishing
Your severe injuries can prevent you from enjoying special occasions and holidays like you usually would. For example, if you can’t walk your daughter down the aisle at her wedding, cook Thanksgiving dinner for your family, or dance with your spouse on your anniversary.
It takes effort to show just how much your injuries have negatively impacted your life. Dynamic language and detailed descriptions of your life before and after the accident can help establish your loss.
#3. Emotional Distress
Emotional distress covers any mental anguish and emotional disturbances resulting from the accident.
Frequently, emotional distress will show up as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It’s crucial to discuss your emotional distress with your primary care doctor. Many accident victims require medications and talk therapy to help them move past the trauma surrounding the actual accident or the physical pain they experience.
If you request substantial compensation for your emotional distress, you and your attorney should be prepared to provide evidence from a licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. A mental health professional’s written narrative that goes over a diagnosis and prognosis will reveal the severity of your emotional damage and how it’s connected to the incident that resulted in your injuries.
The expenses of mental health services, including any medications necessary, will count towards your economic damages. You may also request non-economic damages based on your emotional suffering.
#4. Permanent Impairment, Scarring, or Disfigurement
Suppose your claim involves severe or permanent injuries. In that case, your personal injury lawyer can seek compensation specifically for impairment or disfigurement damages.
Impairments may affect any bodily function:
- Use of hands, arms, feet, or legs
- Bowel or bladder control
Common disfigurements include:
- Loss of an eye
- Distortions to the face or limbs
#5. Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium describes the loss of intimacy or sexual companionship with a spouse or significant as the result of a debilitating personal injury. This loss is often one of the most challenging damages to claim in a personal injury.
Claiming loss of consortium sometimes requires medical proof of sexual disability, such as a doctor’s testimony. In some states, only a legal spouse may ask for compensatory damages for loss of consortium. Sometimes convincing the insurer that you or your spouse have suffered this damage requires a written statement from your spouse that must include the intimate details of your sex life.
More recently, we describe the loss of consortium as the loss of the benefits of family relationships. Many states allow consortium claims from family members. For instance, children can bring a loss of consortium claim if their injured parent can’t care for them as they normally would.
Requesting Punitive Damages
A judge or jury will award punitive damages to an injury victim as punishment for the egregious or malicious actions of the liable party. In addition, these types of damages also serve to warn others about the severe consequences of their bad behavior.
Unfortunately, you can’t request punitive damages from an insurance carrier outside personal injury litigation.
Types of cases that may result in the court awarding punitive damages can include:
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve starts with understanding what damages are and then determining which ones apply in your case. Seek the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer today to maximize your claim’s value.