By: Emily Stringer
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How Much is a Personal Injury Case Worth?
If you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit over a car accident, slip and fall, or any other kind of injury, you might wonder “What is my case really worth?” The answer comes down to “damages” — figuring out what your injuries have cost you monetarily, physically, and mentally. In some cases, this includes whether the defendant’s conduct should be punished).
In a personal injury case, damages are paid to an injured person (the plaintiff) by the person or company or person who is found to be legally responsible for the accident (the defendant or their insurer). A damage award can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement — among the parties, their insurance companies, and their attorneys, or may be ordered by a judge or jury following a trial.
Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory,” meaning that they are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for what was lost due to the accident or injury. Compensatory damages are meant to help injured plaintiff regain financial losses. This means trying to put a dollar figure on all the consequences of an accident. Some compensatory damages are relatively easy to quantify like property damage and medical bills. It is much more difficult to place a monetary value on pain and suffering because of physical limitations caused by lingering accident-related injuries.
Here are the different types of compensatory damages that are common in many personal injury cases:
A personal injury damages award almost always includes the cost of medical care associated with the accident or reimbursement for treatment you’ve already received and compensation for the estimated cost of medical care you’ll need in the future.
You may be entitled to compensation for the accident’s impact on your salary and wages. This also includes future income that cannot be generated duo to the accident. In personal injury legalese, a damage award based on future income is characterized as compensation for an accident victim’s “loss of earning capacity.”
If any vehicles or personal 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.
Pain and suffering
You may be entitled to get compensation for pain and serious discomfort you suffered during the accident and aftermath. This includes continuous pain caused by the accident.
Usually linked to more serious accidents, emotional distress damages are meant to compensate a personal injury plaintiff for the psychological impact of an injury such as including anxiety and sleep loss. Some states consider emotional distress a part of any “pain and suffering” damage 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.
Loss of consortium
“Loss of consortium” damages typically relate to the impact the injuries have on the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse. Some states also consider the separate impact on the relationship between a parent and their child when one is injured. Loss of consortium damages are can be awarded directly to the affected family member rather than to the injured plaintiff.