When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, the value of your case is determined by the damages you've suffered. This includes your monetary losses, as well as the physical and emotional costs of your injury. It's important to understand these damages and how they're calculated in order to determine if you have a strong case.
Monetary losses can include medical bills, lost wages, and any other expenses related to your injury. These losses are easy to calculate and usually have a set dollar amount.
Physical damages are a bit more difficult to quantify. They can include things like pain and suffering, long-term health effects, and disability. Emotional damages are also difficult to measure, but can include things like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
When determining the value of your injury case, it's important to consider all possible damages. The total sum will help you determine if you have a strong case.
So how do injury lawyers determine the value of your injury case? It starts with looking at three factors: injuries, liability and expenses. Let's take a closer look at each one.
Note: If the injury is catastrophic, like paralysis or brain damage where there's no significant recovery expected, then compensation isn't necessary for pain and suffering but rather future needs like round-the-clock care may be covered by an injury settlement.
When it comes to injury cases, medical damages are among the most important factors to consider. This is because injury victims often require extensive medical care, which can be quite costly. In many cases, the cost of future medical care is also taken into account when determining the value of an injury case.
This is why it's so important to have detailed records of all the medical care you've received—including both past and future expenses. If you're not sure what types of expenses to include, speak with a personal injury lawyer from Impact Legal, who can help you understand what to claim in your lawsuit.
You may be entitled to compensation for the accident's impact on your salary and wages—not just income you've already lost but also the money you would have been able to make in the future, were it not for the accident. In personal injury legalese, a damage award based on future income is often characterized as compensation for an accident victim's "loss of earning capacity."
If any vehicles, clothing, or other items were damaged as a result of the accident, you'll likely be entitled to reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of the property that was lost. The value of your injury case will be based on the total amount of damages that you've suffered. This includes both economic and non-economic damages.
Pain and Suffering
If you've suffered from pain and serious discomfort as a result of the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. This is known as pain and suffering damages. The value of your injury case will depend on the severity of your injury, how long it lasted, and whether it required any ongoing treatment. Your attorney will help you determine the best way to quantify your pain and suffering, which can be difficult. As a general rule of thumb, you'll likely need an experienced injury attorney to get compensation for this intangible injury.
When you're involved in a car accident, it's common to be emotionally affected. If another driver failed to pay attention and caused the crash that injured you, then they should bear some responsibility for your injury—and they'll likely have to pay for any emotional distress that resulted from the injury as well. The value of an injury case based on emotional distress will depend on the severity of the injury, how long it lasted, and whether it required any ongoing treatment. Some states consider emotional distress as part of any "pain and suffering" damages that is awarded to a personal injury plaintiff.
Loss of Enjoyment
When injuries caused by an accident keep you from enjoying day-to-day pursuits like hobbies, exercise, and other recreational activities, you may be entitled to receive "loss of enjoyment" damages. The value of your injury case will depend on how severely the injury affected your daily routine. If the injury only prohibited you from engaging in a few activities, then your injury case might not be worth as much. If the injury prevented you from doing most or all of the activities that you enjoy on a regular basis, then your injury case will likely have more value.
In certain cases, the defendant's conduct is deemed particularly egregious or outrageously careless, and the plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages award. Punitive damages stem from a rationale that is quite different from the justification tied to compensatory damages, which attempt to "make someone whole."
Punitive damages are awarded to the injured plaintiff, but their real goal is to punish the defendant for its conduct—to "hit them in the pocketbook," so to speak—and to act as a deterrent. Since it isn't unusual for punitive damage awards to be very high, they can be quite costly for defendants. This is one of the reasons why these damages are typically only awarded in cases where the defendant's conduct is particularly malicious or outrageous. A personal injury plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages award.