Understanding Personal Injury Damages

If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence you may be entitled to recover personal injury damages. However, in order to collect these damages, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits are filed in civil court and are governed by civil law in the state in which you sue.

Victims often have a very vague understanding of the difference between different types of personal injury damages. Just because you were injured does not mean you are automatically entitled to recover every type of damage. The types of damages available in your case will depend on the type of injury you sustained and the circumstances surrounding the accident. To better understand the role an Orlando personal injury attorney can play in this process, read our article; What can a Personal Injury Attorney Do For Me?

Compensatory Damages

The word “compensatory” comes from the Latin roots that mean “to weigh together.” The image is of a judge placing something in one side of a balance scale and something in the other. The goal is to make the scale balance perfectly. Therefore, compensatory damages are defined as those that restore balance to a situation by giving a victim back what he or she has lost.

Unfortunately, many personal injury victims cannot really recover exactly what they have lost, so money must be substituted instead. A dollar amount is assigned to the victim’s emotional, physical and financial damage to compensate the victim for those losses.

Monetary Losses

Compensatory damages include compensation for physical, emotional and monetary losses. Monetary damages are the most specific as the victim can present written proof that he or she has sustained these losses. In our article How Insurance Companies Value Vehicle Accident Personal Injury Claims, we provide guidelines on how to determine what your injury claim may be worth. Monetary damages might include:

  • Medical expenses. Many accidents involve the need for medical treatment. Sometimes this treatment is very brief while in other cases it may go on for years. Once a lawsuit has been filed, the victim must account for all past medical expenses and estimate the need for future medical treatment based on life expectancy.
  • Disability costs. When an injury results in a permanent disability, the victim may have to pay money for someone to do things that the victim used to do alone. For example, if a victim is confined to a wheelchair after an accident, the victim may have to pay not only for the medical supplies but also for costs of future assistance in and around the home.
  • Lost income. Whether the victim is a wage earner or owns his or her own business, there may be a substantial loss of future income if the victim is unable to work after an accident. In these cases, the victims can claim the amount he or she would have made had the accident never happened.
  • Property damage. Many accidents involve the loss of personal property such as a vehicle. The value of this loss is calculated based on fair market value.
  • Funeral expenses. When someone is killed in an accident, the family members may be able to claim the amount of funeral expenses for the victim.

Non-Monetary Losses

Non-monetary damages are much more difficult to calculate than monetary damages. It is up to the judge or a jury to decide on the amount appropriate for non-monetary damages, which can include:

  • Pain and suffering. Victims often suffer debilitating pain, emotional distress, fear and other mental issues after an accident and can claim damages for this suffering.
  • Loss of consortium. Family members may be able to claim the loss of emotional support, love and affection, comfort and companionship and the general society of a victim.

Punitive Damages

The final type of damages awarded are punitive damages. They are not designed to compensate the victim but to punish the person who caused the accident for outrageous conduct. In most cases gross negligence must be proven in order to be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are not awarded in every case and may not be appropriate in some cases.

Structured Settlements

Many large settlements are not paid in lump sums but in structured payments over time. You should discuss with your personal injury attorney the best way to set up payment of your compensation.

The Personal Injury Attorney’s at David & Philpot, P.L. have a solid understanding of how damages from an accident are determined and work hard for every client to obtain the maximum compensation they are entitled to. Contact us today for a free review of your case.