Understanding damages and their calculation is key to navigating a personal injury case in the USA. ‘Damages’ refers to the monetary compensation victims seek to cover losses from an accident or injury. They encompass various aspects like medical bills, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and more. However, calculating these damages isn’t straightforward, as it considers numerous factors like the severity of the injury, future prognosis, and more. This blog will delve into the different types of damages and provide a breakdown of how they are determined in the American legal system.
For example, suppose you are a resident of California. In that case, personal injury compensation is typically calculated by combining economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages, with non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. The latter is more subjective and may be influenced by the severity of the injury, the impact on the victim’s lifestyle, and other personal factors.
On top of that, California follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule in personal injury cases. This means that the compensation a claimant receives will be reduced by the percentage of their liability in the incident. For instance, if you are found to be 30% at fault in an accident, your compensation will be reduced by 30%. Importantly, this rule allows you to recover damages even if you are 99% at fault, though your compensation will be significantly reduced.
This applies to all places – be it the capital city of Sacramento, the technological hub of San Jose, or the historical town of San Mateo. Understandably, this can be confusing for any layperson. By hiring personal injury lawyers, you can focus on defending your rights and get the maximum possible compensation for the damages incurred.
But we also believe in making informed choices since knowledge is power. Let’s simplify and understand all about calculating damages related to personal injury.
Types Of Damages
Damages are essential in personal injury proceedings because they compensate the harmed party. Let’s explore the types of losses and their importance in obtaining adequate compensation following a personal injury.
Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages intend to reimburse the injured party for the losses incurred due to the personal injury. For example, if you had a slip and fall incident and unfortunately fractured any bone – the medical expenses will be compensated after presenting all sorts of medical records. However, these damages are further classified as economic and non-economic.
i. Economic Damages: Economic damages are tangible losses that can be easily quantified or equated in monetary terms. They include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and any other financial losses directly resulting from the injury. Medical bills, hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation costs, and ongoing medical treatment expenses are all considered when calculating economic damages. Additionally, the loss of income due to the inability to work, both in the present and future, is also considered.
ii. Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages include intangible losses that are more difficult to measure. These damages are granted for physical and mental suffering, emotional discomfort, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-monetary losses. Non-economic damages are calculated subjectively by the court or jury. It considers elements such as the severity of the injury, its impact on everyday life, and long-term repercussions on the individual’s well-being.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are the opposite of compensatory damages. They are meant to penalize the perpetrator and discourage such behavior in the future. For example, if a man (A) pushes man (B) with the intent to hurt – the damage that occurred would be considered in this category. Punitive damages are often granted when the defendant’s acts were purposeful, malicious, or reckless concerning the safety of others. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are rarely awarded and are subject to particular limits under state law.
Factors Influencing Damages Calculation
Several factors come into play when calculating damages in a personal injury case. Each case is unique, whether an accident, slip, fall, or other unpleasant event. That is why calculations are done based on the severity of loss. Here are the following considerations to typically taken into account:
The Severity Of An Injury: The injury’s extent and severity directly impact the damages awarded. More severe injuries often result in higher compensation, significantly impacting the victim’s life. For example, the payment for an injury that caused surgery will be higher than for a hand fracture.
Medical Expenditures And Treatment: During the computation, the entire medical expenditures incurred, including past and future costs, are evaluated. Medical treatments, surgeries, drugs, therapy, and rehabilitation are all included. So, don’t forget to present every medical proof to strengthen your case.
Wages And Earning Capacity: The loss of revenue due to missing work or reduced earning capacity due to the injury is considered. Imagine that you had an accident where the recovery lasted about six months. In this case, the lost earnings for particular months will be compensated. In short, if the damage impacts the victim’s ability to work long-term, future earning potential may be evaluated.
Suffering And Pain: Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, are assessed based on the seriousness of the injury, the length of the pain, and the effect on the person’s quality of life. In short, the jurisdiction also pays attention to emotional damage and concludes compensation. But first, the attorney must prepare this point for a trial or an argument.
Insurance Coverage: The available insurance coverage, both the responsible party’s liability insurance and the injured party’s own insurance plans, might influence the assessment of damages. For instance, if the third party is faulty in an incident. The insurance amount will be debited from their policy, and the compensation amount will be fixed accordingly.
Expert Opinions: Healthcare professionals, vocational experts, economists, and other professionals’ testimony and studies may be examined to offer an impartial evaluation of the impact of the injury and the accompanying damages.
It is crucial to remember that the particular variables and their weight in assessing damages might vary based on jurisdiction and the facts of each case. An experienced personal injury lawyer may give important insight into the variables pertinent to your unique circumstance.
In personal injury cases, comparative negligence is a legal notion used to establish the amount to which each individual involved contributed to the accident or harm. Under comparative negligence, the injured party’s damages are lowered in proportion to their own level of fault. For example, if the injured person is found to be 20% at blame for the accident, their compensation will be reduced by that amount. Comparative negligence laws differ by jurisdiction, with some states using a pure relative negligence system and others using a modified or contributory negligence system.
Calculating damages in personal injury lawsuits is a complicated procedure that requires evaluating many criteria and loss categories. Hiring competent personal injury attorneys can assist you in navigating this complex procedure and ensuring adequate compensation for your injuries. You might be better prepared to pursue your claim and obtain the compensation you deserve if you understand the various types of damages and the elements that determine their calculation. So, contact the best lawyers in town for a detailed view of the compensation amount calculation and damages.