What Are Considered Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
If you have been injured, suffered property damage, or another kind of loss due to another person’s negligence, you may seek compensation from whoever caused or contributed to these losses. Legally, this type of compensation is referred to as “damages.” In these situations, there are different types of damages you may be entitled to.
There are four different categories that encompass most of the damages awarded in personal injury cases: economic (also called special), non-economic (also called general), punitive, and treble. The following information is not exhaustive, and contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa is the best way for you to learn about all your options and gives you the best chance at financially recovering from your injury accident.
Special or Economic Damages
“Special” or economic damages compensates you for the monetary expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury. These damages may include medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, property damage, or any other expenses you may accrue due to the injury. These damages are unique to the plaintiff in every case, and their worth can vary significantly from case to case.
It is important to keep track of all out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury — trips to the emergency room, medications, x-rays, physical therapy, and anything else necessary in the course of your recovery from the injury. There is, in most instances no limit to the amount that the injured party can claim, and reimbursement for medical bills begins as soon as the injury occurs and can cover both present and future medical costs.
Lost wages include any past or future earnings that are lost due to the injury. The calculation for these losses starts on the date of the accident and continues for as long as the plaintiff is unable to work. Even once the plaintiff is able to resume working, any necessary leave due to the injury can also be included in the calculation. In the event that the injury caused a permanently decreased capacity to work, lifetime lost wages may also be calculated into the award by subtracting the victim’s earnings potential before vs. after the accident.
Additionally, if you incurred any property damage during the accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for those items. It is crucial to keep all receipts and any other documentation related to the accident to ensure that you are compensated fairly for your injury.
General or Non-economic damages
General, or non-economic, damages are damages that are not able to be easily quantified. These damages may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium, or companionship, of a family member. These damages are called “general” damages because they address the harm that is generally sustained in an injury but does not carry a specific dollar amount.
Though these general damages do not require any receipts, in order to receive compensation for them, you would likely need to obtain a written statement from a mental health professional corroborating your claims. It is also best to document your ongoing experience in a “pain journal” while being careful to not do any activities inconsistent with the level of pain and debilitation you are experiencing.
Pain and suffering and emotional distress can take many forms: PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other long-lasting negative emotions. If you were seriously injured in an accident to the point that you can no longer enjoy the activities that you used to, you could claim a loss of enjoyment of life. For instance, if you received a long-lasting or permanent injury to your neck or spine, it could prevent you from participating in activities such as playing with your children, golfing, dancing, or other once-cherished activities.
Loss of consortium is also closely related to pain and suffering and may occur if you become so seriously injured that you can no longer maintain familial relationships. For instance, if you are so gravely injured that you may no longer be able to perform certain activities with your spouse, you could claim loss of consortium. These damages can also cover an instance when a wrongful death has occurred, as the relationship between the victim and their family ceases to exist at all.
These unfortunate situations do not come with pre-set price tags that determine their worth. However, these damages can have long-term effects that negatively impact the victim and their families.
The two types of personal injury damages mentioned above are also referred to as compensatory damages or damages that compensate for the injury being addressed in the case. However, there is another type of damage — punitive damages — that may be used by the courts to maximize the effects on the defendant, usually with the goal of deterring reckless or injury-causing behavior in the future.
These damages are awarded at the discretion of the court and are often designed to punish defendants for egregiously negligent actions. These may be used if the judge or jury feels that the other damages awarded won’t do enough to deter the defendant or other offenders from repeating the same action in the future. Additionally, the court may award punitive damages if they don’t believe the other damages amount to a reasonable punishment for the offending behavior. These damages are an extra settlement amount in addition to the compensatory damages awarded in the case.
Some statutory language allows a tort victim to recovery multiple times the monetary damages inflicted by the negligent party. This often takes the form of triple, or “treble”, damages, which amplify the award granted for all special damages.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Tampa
If you or a loved one were involved in a serious accident that caused physical, emotional, or property harm, call an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you navigate this difficult time.
Not only will an attorney from Darrigo & Diaz be able to assist you through this trying time, they can also help you gather the evidence and documentation you need in order to try your personal injury case in court. Your lawyer will be with you every step of the way and fight for you, giving you the best chance you have at receiving the compensation you need to be able to move forward with your life. Call (813) 774-3341 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential appointment now.