A Guide to Damages Available in a Personal Injury Claim

The purpose of damages in a personal injury claim is to compensate the victim. They help restore the victim to a financially “whole” position through monetary compensation, and in some cases, they act to punish the defendant for causing the accident.

The measurement used for damages varies by state, and other factors like the victim’s age, the severity of the injury, and the type of accident all play a role in determining compensation.

Property Damage

The measurement used for your property damaged in an accident is comparing the market value before and after the accident. If the property is destroyed, you receive fair market value for the item – including vehicles. Remember, the market value could be less than what you owe on your vehicle. Therefore, you would still be responsible for the remaining balance on that loan.

Lost Wages

Lost earnings consider the gross earnings you would have brought in had you not been injured. You must prove that you missed hours at work, the amount of income you lost, and then request compensation.

Loss of Earning Capacity

Sometimes an injury is permanent – therefore, your attorney will seek loss of future earnings. Showing the amount of wages you would have been able to earn over a determined amount of time, and the future period that these wages would be lost or decreased from your injury must prove this. This amount of time coincides with your physician’s diagnosis.

It will include all income potential, but not your Social Security or retirement income.

Medical Expenses

The most common form of compensation in an injury case is medical expenses. Victims can receive compensation for medical expenses immediately after the injury, during negotiations, and any future medical expenses associated with their prognosis. Medical expenses include over-the-counter medications, medical equipment, surgeries, hospitalizations, and all treatments associated with the injury.

Loss of Consortium

The consortium refers to services and relations. The law limits which parties can seek loss of consortium, and typically it is the spouse of the injured person. Damages are calculated based on the services lost by that loved one.

Wrongful Death

When the injury results in death, the law allows for family members to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one – including costs associated with the injury, death, and future costs. However, the claim has one strict requirement: the victim would have qualified to file a personal injury lawsuit had they not died from their injury.

The damages go to the deceased’s estate and include funeral and burial costs, medical expenses the family members pay, and loss of financial support. The estate distributes these assets to immediate family members, and personal injury rewards are not subject to creditors.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, the court may issue punitive damages. Not all cases qualify for punitive damages because they are not designed to compensate the victim. Instead, they exist to punish the defendant for instances involving malicious intent or gross negligence. They further serve as a public reminder of what happens if others act similarly.

Consulting an Injury Attorney is Key

It is best that you consult with an injury attorney to see what types of damages your case may warrant. Every case is unique – so your case may not qualify for all the damages listed here. Even two injury cases with similar types of accidents and injuries will have different amounts of compensation. The only way to know how much your case is worth is to consult with an injury attorney.