In the aftermath of experiencing a personal injury accident, many victims wonder how much compensation they can receive — or more specifically, what types of personal injury damages may be claimed in a lawsuit. When figuring out the amount of your claim, your attorney will discuss many aspects surrounding your accident and injuries to determine how much to ask — and in some cases, it amounts to more than the victim might have estimated on their own.
Personal injury damages generally fall into two basic categories, which are then further itemized by type of damage. These two categories are compensatory damages and punitive damages.
As the name suggests, compensatory damages are essentially intended to compensate the victim for any loss, and if possible, restore the victim to the financial, physical and emotional position he/she was in before the accident. It’s basically an itemization (or in some cases, a “best guess”) of what the accident cost the victim. These damages may be broken down into several different types:
- Medical expenses (both past and future)
- Lost wages/income
- Property loss — repairing or replacing any of the victims property damaged in the accident (e.g., a vehicle)
- Disability costs — any additional costs involved with living with a permanent or semi-permanent disability
- Funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
- Pain and suffering — this category is a bit more intangible because it attempts to affix a dollar amount to the physical and emotional distress the victim and his family experiences as a result of the accident.
- Loss of consortium — this attempts to assign a value to any relationship liabilities that result from the accident (for example, loss of affection, isolation from friends/family, sexual issues with a spouse, etc.).
The word “punitive” comes from the word “punish,” and it is a dollar amount awarded by the courts that is intended to penalize the defendant, rather than simply compensate the victim. If the accident caused exceptional damage, was malicious or otherwise egregious, you may have a stronger case for asking for punitive damages. If the courts seek to make an example of the defendant, you’re more likely to receive them.
Not every type of personal injury damage is appropriate for every case, and if you ask for too much just because you can, it can weaken your credibility and possibly affect your settlement negatively. When determining what damages to ask for, it’s best to consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you evaluate the true cost of your injuries and come up with a claim that is likely to result in a positive outcome. To learn more, call Sutton Slover at 404.768.0292.