How are Damages Determined in a Personal Injury Case?
Though most victims of a personal injury or wrongful death case will tell you they’d rather have their full health, ability, or lost loved one more than money – lost income, medical bills, and other expenses are how these cases are resolved. When attorneys use the term “damages” it simply means the amount of financial “damage” that has been sustained by the victim or plaintiff. When a case goes to trial, the plaintiff is requesting monetary compensation that covers past, current, and future damages related to the personal injury or wrongful death incident. If found liable for wrongdoing or negligence, the defendant in a personal injury case is ordered to pay those damages to the plaintiff in order to “make them whole.” What’s important for plaintiffs to remember is that there are two categories of damages – Compensatory and Punitive.
Compensatory damages are those related to actual expenses or losses sustained by the victim or plaintiff. These are typically such costs as insurance deductibles, medical bills, lost wages, loss of property (such as when a vehicle is rendered undrivable), pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment (such as being able to play your favorite sport), loss of consortium (damage to the relationship with a spouse, child, or loved ones). These are calculated by totaling actual out-of-pocket costs as well as expected and anticipated ongoing costs related to the incident (such as future lost wages).
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are those meant to punish the responsible party, often for their deliberate or willful disregard for safety or blatant carelessness that caused the injury or death. These are meant to set an example for other individuals or corporations that may cut corners when it comes to unsafe situations, and also compensate victims beyond their compensatory damages.
At Greening Law, P.C., we invite all new clients to contact us for a free initial consultation so we can give you an accurate estimate of what you might expect.