Any type of accident can result in disastrous personal injury. These injuries can leave you physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally drained. And that is not even going into the amount of time and energy they take just to recover from. If you have suffered an accident as a result of somebody else’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek out legal help and compensation for your damages.
You may be wondering what “damages” even are. Filing a personal injury claim can seem intimidating when you are not familiar with the territory. There is some jargon that you may have never heard before, and it is very likely that the work that goes into successfully resolving a claim is much more than you might expect! In this blog post, we will give you a brief overview of all these things and more.
The idea of damages in a personal injury case is really quite simple. According to R. v. Agat Laboratories Ltd., damages may be defined as “money adjudged to be paid by one person to another as compensation for a loss sustained by the latter in consequence of an injury committed by the former.” If this is still too complicated for you, we can break it down even further. Simply put, damages are meant to compensate you for any losses you suffered as a result of your personal injury accident.
Such damages are intended to make the plaintiff “whole” again after injury. It can be difficult to quantify just how much money will do this when there are non-monetary factors in play, such as pain and suffering (and yes, victims can be compensated for pain and suffering). At the end of the day, the primary goal is to return the victim back to the state of wellness they were in before the accident occurred.
“Damages” is a broad term that can be broken down into even more specific subcategories. As we established earlier in this blog post, damages are meant to cover both economic losses (e.g., medical expenses) and non-economic losses (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder). Because of this, there is a long list of the types of damages that you may be able to receive. Here, we will talk about some of the most common.
When you think of suffering a personal injury, you probably think first of the physical toll it takes on your body. After all, many personal injury victims even suffer accidents that leave them with lifelong disabilities. These lifelong conditions can, in turn, lead to lifelong medical treatments.
Even if the injuries you suffer are not that severe, it is likely that any personal injury victim has been left with a substantial amount in medical expenses. These medical bills incurred only as a result of the accident and would not have happened otherwise. Thus, they become the legal responsibility of the at-fault party to pay for. These damages should also factor in any potential future costs.
However, it is important to note that there are cases where the victim must turn over some or all of this money over to their health insurer. This applies in cases where the health insurer was paying for the expenses before the settlement or damage award. There is even the potential for insurance companies or healthcare providers to put out a medical lien on an expected future damage award. They do this in order to be sure that the defendant will make payment for all relevant medical costs.
It is not uncommon for victims to experience pain and suffering or otherwise severe emotional distress following an accident. Many people experience their accidents as traumatic incidents and process them accordingly. However, such experiences must usually be proven by psychiatric records. Official diagnoses can also help tremendously to back up claims of distress.
Because such losses are non-economic in nature, it may be difficult to truly quantify the damages. However, juries tend to award large damages for pain and suffering, particularly when the victim has suffered significant injuries. This does influence insurance companies to settle. In fact, when settling personal injury cases, insurance companies may often employ techniques such as “pain multipliers.” These techniques are meant to assist in arriving at a fair and reasonable amount for pain and suffering damages. In most cases, they go about doing this by multiplying actual financial losses by a number deemed appropriate by the insurer.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a special type of personal injury lawsuit brought to the defendant by the family members of the deceased. These are civil cases rather than criminal cases, meaning that they cannot be initiated by the courts or law enforcement. Wrongful death cases may only be filed if the deceased was killed as a direct result of an accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence or otherwise wrongful acts.
These cases can only be opened by family members with the proper standing. Every state allows spouses to bring such actions about, and parents are also allowed to bring an action on behalf of any minor-aged children. However, there are varying rules when it comes to whether or not parents can sue for the wrongful death of their adult-aged children.
While compensatory damages are meant to simply restore your quality of life, punitive damages are meant specifically to punish the defendant. Such damages only apply when the defendant’s behavior has been deemed to be particularly reckless, negligent, or otherwise egregious. They are meant to deter the defendant from repeat behavior. Be aware that these damages are not allowed in all cases or even in all states.
No matter what type of accident you were injured in, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide personal injury attorneys. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.