Breaking Down Damages in Your Personal Injury Case
Thomas Pyles | Category: Personal Injury | January 17, 2023
Whether it is a car accident claim or a slip and fall case, the ultimate goal is to recover fair compensation to cover your injuries and other losses. The compensation that you are seeking is referred to as “damages.” The challenge lies in determining what losses should be included in your claim for damages and ultimately what would be fair. This can be very difficult for non-lawyers, especially when you consider how confusing the terminology can be. To make sure that you get the compensation you deserve, your best option is to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The Fundamental Rule of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the basic rule is that you are entitled to be “made whole.” This means that you are entitled to compensation in an amount that would reflect what your position would be had the accident never happened.
In a nutshell, this means that you are entitled to compensation for more than just your medical bills. Many people assume that they do not need a personal injury lawyer because they have health insurance, only to realize when it is too late that they have other losses that their insurance won’t cover.
Another term for compensation is compensatory damages. These are damages that are intended to compensate you for your losses. In a sense, compensatory damages are the opposite of punitive damages – damages that are awarded not to compensate the victim for their losses but to punish the at-fault party.
In the majority of cases, the accident victim is seeking only compensatory damages. Punitive damages are awarded only rarely, typically in cases where the at-fault party was grossly negligent or their behavior was otherwise truly reprehensible. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will know when it is appropriate to pursue a claim for punitive damages in addition to whatever compensatory damages you are entitled to seek.
Economic damages are a subset of compensatory damages. Economic damages are those losses that can be reduced to a tangible monetary loss. Economic damages are typically proven by producing a bill, invoice, or other documentation that reflects a specific dollar amount. For example, economic damages would include the following:
- Your medical expenses
- The cost to repair or replace your vehicle (if you have a car accident case)
- Any current or future lost income because you are unable to work or had to miss work to get treatment
- Other losses such as increased transportation costs because you cannot drive or you need to make structural modifications to your home
Economic damages are objective and easily documented. That said, it is critical that you include all of your losses and have the necessary documentation to prove your claim. Furthermore, you should also be aware that the insurance company may challenge your losses. For example, they may claim that you had pre-existing injuries or that the treatment you received was unnecessary. A personal injury lawyer can not only help you gather the evidence you need but overcome any other challenges to your claim that you may face.
Non-economic damages are another subset of compensatory damages. As the name implies, non-economic damages are those losses that do not have an economic value that is easily identifiable. You cannot produce a bill or other documentation that reflects a precise dollar amount. They are subjective in nature, but they are nonetheless very real. Non-economic damages can include the following:
- Your physical pain
- Your mental anguish
- Your emotional distress
- Your loss of consortium
Family members who are pursuing a wrongful death claim may be able to pursue damages for things like loss of companionship and loss of support.
Non-economic damages can be a very significant portion of your claim. Because your non-economic losses are difficult to document, how you formulate this portion of your claim is very important. How you advocate for these losses may be even more important.
Accident victims should also be aware that Maryland imposes caps on non-economic damages that change every year. The current cap on non-economic damages is $920,000. The amount is higher for wrongful death claims but is lower for cases involving medical malpractice. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will know what caps apply to your claim and how to build a compelling case for the compensation you deserve.
Injured? Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer at The Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles, P.A.
You deserve fair compensation if you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. With over 30 years of results, personal injury attorney Thomas E. Pyles can help – contact us today at 301-705-5006 to schedule a free consultation.