Damages in a Typical Personal Injury Claim
Many accident victims would like to know how much money they may be able to receive if they file a compensation claim in relation to their injuries. Keep reading to learn what kind of losses compensation may cover to get a better idea of your claim’s potential worth.
If you have been recently injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you are likely dealing with a lot of unexpected expenses. Medical bills, repair costs related to property damage, and wages lost during the days you weren’t able to go to work are just a few examples. These expenses can quickly add up and cripple your family’s budget. However, you might have heard that it is possible to offset these financial losses by filing a personal injury claim and obtaining monetary compensation for your injuries.
Before deciding whether to pursue such a claim or not, however, many of our potential clients wonder if filing will be worth their time and trouble. Indeed, “How much is my claim worth?” is a question that our team of personal injury attorneys in Albuquerque, NM, gets asked most often on phone calls and during personal consultations.
The exact answer to that question depends on the various factors and circumstances unique to each person and each accident. In fact, no experienced attorney would make any definite statements about the potential monetary value of your claim before thoroughly analyzing all the related details and circumstances.
What we can tell you from the very beginning, however, is what kinds of losses personal injury compensation typically cover. Monetary awards compensating your injuries are known as “damages,” and in this article, you will see what damages you may expect to receive if your claim is successful.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
Economic and non-economic is the basic distinction between categories of damages that you may claim in relation to a personal injury.
Economic damages refer to compensation awards designed to cover financial losses that are easily quantifiable. They are intended to correspond to the actual money you were forced to spend or the funds you otherwise lost as a result of the accident or your injuries.
The most common economic damages you may be awarded in a personal injury case include the following.
Damages for your medical expenses will compensate for incurred financial losses related to your initial treatment, the medicine you had to buy, or rehabilitation. In case you need ongoing medical attention, they may also cover any such costs that you are likely to incur in the future.
As a result of your injury, you could have been forced to take a leave off work and consequently lost money. Part of your economic damages will compensate you for your lost wages.
Loss of earning capacity
If you have sustained life-altering injuries, you may not be able to return to work, or you may need to change professions to sustain yourself and your family. When you recover damages for the loss of earning capacity, it is recognized that you may have a reduced ability to earn money in the future, and you are thus compensated for the financial impact.
If your property—for example, your car—was damaged in the accident, you may claim damages to obtain funds to repair or replace it.
Of course, the impact of an accident can go beyond physical injuries, property damage, and money spent to amend either. To obtain compensation for losses that cannot be easily measured or quantified because they are not directly related to a loss of money, the victim can also claim non-economic damages.
These may include compensation for emotional distress experienced in relation to the accident and more. In the case of wrongful death claims, where a person files a claim after losing a family member in an accident, non-economic damages may also include loss of companionship and consortium.
The following are some of the most common non-economic damages.
Pain and suffering
All injuries entail a level of pain and discomfort. As a part of your compensation claim, you may be able to obtain damages for the suffering that you have already endured, as well as any pain and discomfort you are likely to experience in the future.
Emotional distress and mental anguish
The detrimental effects of an accident are often felt by a victim long after the physical injuries have healed. A personal injury claim may take into consideration any mental and emotional consequences of your injuries. Such negative consequences may include trauma, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood swings, and sleep disorders.
Scarring and permanent disfigurement
Many injuries heal, leaving no visible marks; however, some can lead to scarring and permanent disfigurement. These can have a lasting effect on a person’s life—not only physically but also emotionally and professionally. While some losses related to such injuries may be quantifiable—for example, those related to reconstructive surgeries or prosthetics—a victim can also claim non-economic damages related to mental and emotional impact of scarring and disfigurement.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
As you can see, there are many different kinds of damages an injured person may try to obtain by filing a personal injury compensation claim. However, it is important to keep in mind that it may not be possible for a victim to obtain all of these damages. Again, much depends on the circumstances of the accident and the nature of the injuries sustained.
On the other hand, the extent and the amount of compensation are also contingent on the strength of the claim—that is, how well it is researched, prepared, and presented. To be able to receive compensation, you must prove not only that all your injuries and other negative results you experience happened because of the accident but also that the accident itself was caused by another party.