David Faraci Discusses Recovering Economic Damages from Your Personal Injury Case
What are Compensable Damages in Personal Injury Cases?
Below are some examples of the types of compensable damages that may be awarded to an injured party:
• Medical Care: The most obvious form of compensable damages from personal injury claims is the cost of all medical care associated with the injuries from the accident. Medical care expenses include those already incurred, as well as a reasoned estimate, supported by evidence, of all medical care expected to be needed in the future for the injuries suffered.
• Loss of Wages: If the accident left you unable to work or had an impact on your salary and earnings, you may be entitled to loss of wages compensation. This can be critical if, for example, the injured party is a business owner and her inability to work causes substantial damage to the business. It is also important to note that you may also receive “loss of earning capacity” damages if the injuries affect your future ability to earn wages
• Personal Property: If any personal property is damaged in the accident, such as a vehicle, clothing, or other items, the injured party can seek damages to pay for the repair of the items, or the fair market value of the property if not repairable.
• Pain & Suffering: If you suffered serious pain or discomfort due to the accident, or if you will continue to suffer in the future, you may receive compensable damages.
• Emotional Distress: When a serious accident or injury occurs, the injured party may suffer emotional distress such as anxiety, fear, depression and sleep loss. These psychological injuries may also be compensable.
• Loss of Enjoyment: If the accident results in injuries that prohibit you from enjoying day-to-day life and the activities you used to enjoy, such losses may also be compensable.
• Loss of Consortium: “Loss of consortium” damages are meant to compensate for injuries that result in a negative impact on the injured parties’ relationship with his or her spouse – for example, the loss of companionship or the inability to maintain a sexual relationship. Some states have also started considering the separate impact on the relationship between a parent and child when one is injured.
It should also be noted that there are certain situations where the injured party’s conduct can result in a decrease of their damages award. Depending on the jurisdiction, examples include:
• Comparative Negligence: If you are at fault, or partially at fault, for the accident, the defense will try to assert comparative negligence. If the defendant is successful with a comparative negligence argument, any damage award you receive will reflect the degree to which the accident was your fault.
• Contributory Negligence: Some states follow the doctrine of “contributory negligence”, which means that if you are at fault in any way (even 1%) for the cause of the accident, you cannot recover damages. Most jurisdiction do not follow such a harsh rule, and may offer hybrid of contributory and comparative – in Massachusetts, for example, an injured party may recover damages taking into account his or her percentage of fault (if any), unless that fault exceeds fifty percent, in which case there can be no recovery.
• Failure to Mitigate Damages. Injured parties may have a duty to take reasonable steps to minimize or “mitigate” their losses after an injury. For example, if you are left with a known broken leg as a result of an incident, it would be most reasonable to seek available medical treatment as soon as possible, rather than wait several weeks before making an attempt to get the proper care. In such an instance, the resulting damages award might be reduced.