In a personal injury case, there are certain kinds of damages and compensation that victims may be able to recover in a claim or lawsuit. Injury victims often sustain injuries due to another party’s negligence or malicious behavior. In these cases, the liable parties may need to compensate victims or their loved ones.
If you are new to personal injury cases, you might want to learn more about the different types of injuries and damages that come into play. Determining which damages factor into a case can help calculate the total amount of compensation that victims may be able to recover. Our experienced personal injury lawyers in Phoenix, AZ can help you get a good idea of what type of compensation you are looking at for your injuries.
The Types of Damages Involved in Personal Injury Cases
Victims in personal injury cases may receive several types of compensation based on the damages involved. These could include:
The primary type of compensation involved in personal injury cases is compensatory. These damages comprise both economic and non-economic damages. They impact victims on a financial, physical, and emotional level.
Economic damages, also known as special or monetary damages, are those that result in specific expenses that victims may face.
Some examples of economic damages include:
- Medical Bills. Victims may need to pay for certain medical expenses, including immediate and ongoing care costs. It is possible to calculate future medical expenses by anticipating the cost of future treatment based on current care and the patient’s treatment plan.
- Lost Income. Injury victims may experience lost income due to time taken off from work to recover, or they may be unable to work due to temporary or permanent disability. This includes any lost future income due to a loss of earning capacity resulting from an injury.
- Property Damage. Personal injury cases may involve numerous types of property damage, including damage to vehicles resulting from a car accident and damage to other belongings.
- Disability. Injuries could lead to partial or total temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on their severity. Disabilities can significantly impact victims’ lives and their ability to function daily. They may need to make certain modifications to their homes and vehicles to accommodate them, such as wheel-chair accessible ramps leading up to doors. These can come with costs that a personal injury case may help recover.
In addition to these economic damages, non-economic damages may contribute to compensation.
Non-economic damages are also known as general and non-monetary damages, and they may include specific damages such as:
- Pain and Suffering. Pain and suffering may refer to physical pain or psychological distress. Injury victims often experience a certain degree of physical pain along with emotions such as fear and general loss of enjoyment of life because of their injuries.
- Loss of Consortium. Victims may also suffer from the loss of a relationship when injuries affect their ability to maintain one. For instance, victims may suffer from loss of comfort, solace, assistance, sexual relations, and society.
- Disfigurement. When victims sustain disfiguring injuries, these disfigurements may cause extreme distress, resulting in a loss of quality of life, psychological anguish, and reduced self-esteem. Disfigurement could also prevent a person from performing certain day-to-day functions.
Wrongful Death Damages
If someone dies following an accident, the victim’s loved ones may be able to recover certain damages resulting from the person’s injuries and death. The help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate this difficult, trying time in life.
These could include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Mental anguish resulting from the person’s loss
- The cost of medical care prior to the victim’s death
- Loss of support and services
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of financial support
In rare cases, courts may award punitive damages to plaintiffs in addition to compensatory damages. Unlike compensatory damages that aim to help compensate victims for their losses and pain and suffering, punitive damages have the sole purpose of punishing defendants. They apply to cases involving gross negligence and malicious behavior. For instance, defendants may knowingly violate certain laws to cause accidents or engage in serious criminal offenses that cause harm to victims.
These damages make an example of the defendant, deterring them and others from committing similar acts. Some cases may also involve awarding punitive damages to punish companies for negligent acts, such as keeping defective products on the market when they know about the dangers their products posed.
How to Calculate Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Most economic damages are easy to calculate in personal injury cases. They consist of medical expenses and other items that come with clear costs. There may be many related expenses, but they are generally obvious and will not provide too much of a challenge when calculating compensation.
However, non-economic or general damages can be harder to quantify because they are not as tangible and financially transparent. When calculating these damages, attorneys and others may use a multiplier method that gives them a more accurate account of potential compensation.
How the Multiplier Method Works
The multiplier method of calculating non-economic damages involves multiplying the total amount of economic damages by a set number. This multiplier depends on certain elements, such as the severity of injuries, the type of medical treatment needed for the foreseeable future, and the ability of the victim to make a complete recovery.
The higher the multiplier, the more compensation a victim may receive for non-economic damages.
The Daily Rate or Per Diem Method
Another method that people can use to calculate non-economic damages is the per diem or daily rate method. This method entails deciding on a specific daily rate that accounts for the cost of living with injuries. You can then multiply the daily rate by the total number of days required to make a full recovery or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Often, it is possible to calculate the daily rate based on the plaintiff’s daily income, which is due to the perceivably comparable psychological stress of going to work and recovering from injuries.
How Can a Statute of Limitations Hurt a Plaintiff’s Chances of Succeeding
All personal injury cases have a statute of limitations restricting the time plaintiffs have to file a claim or lawsuit after an accident. The statute of limitations is typically two to four years and will vary from state to state.
You might think that the statute of limitations gives you plenty of time to file, but those years can quickly pass by, and personal injury cases can take a long time to settle.
If the case exceeds the statute of limitations, it will be much harder or impossible to file a claim or lawsuit against negligent parties successfully. Filing early on can also benefit injury victims by initiating the claims process to get compensation sooner, which will help cover medical bills and other costs related to recovery.
The statute of limitations typically starts on the day of the accident or injury involved, but it could begin when the victim becomes aware of their injuries, which may not be for days, weeks, or even months after an initial incident.
Statute of Limitations Exceptions
In some cases, the statute of limitations may differ if specific extensions apply.
For example, victims of personal injury may extend the deadline for filing because:
- The accident mentally incapacitated the victim.
- The victim was a minor at the time of the accident.
- The liable party in the case left the state after the accident.
What an Experienced Attorney Can Do to Help Recover Full Compensation
Regardless of the types of injuries and damages involved in your case, you may be able to recover total compensation with the help of an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases. The ideal attorney can help you in several ways, such as:
Providing Dependable Support
An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney will be familiar with personal injury cases of all types, with a deep understanding of the claims and legal processes involved. You should also ensure that the attorney you choose to represent you has experience handling similar cases. For example, if you are involved in a car accident, look for an attorney with ample experience handling car accident cases. If you are in a slip-and-fall accident, seek an attorney who advertises experience with these specific cases.
Negotiating With Insurers
If a personal injury case involves minor injuries and minimal compensatory damages, you may be able to negotiate with insurers without the help of a personal injury lawyer. However, you may face particular challenges if the damages are more extensive and the amount of compensation makes the stakes high.
Insurance companies never work in favor of injury victims. They want to minimize payouts as much as they can with every case. While insurers may be more willing to pay a fair amount when the amount of available compensation is low, they may work harder to minimize or deny a claim that is more costly for them. Insurance adjusters may appear helpful and eager to get you the compensation you deserve, but they are always looking for a reason to avoid large settlements.
Whenever an adjuster makes an initial offer, it is important to avoid accepting it before you know what your case is truly worth. Consulting with an attorney can help better calculate the compensation available to you. If an attorney chooses to take on your case, they could negotiate with insurers to reach a fair settlement.
Enabling Your Recovery from Injuries
If you are negotiating with insurance companies on your own when settling a personal injury claim, you will have to deal with a lot of paperwork and various tasks. This could cause stress and prevent you from making a proper recovery. When you hire an attorney to handle a personal injury case, you can focus on recovering while your attorney handles the more technical aspects of your case.
Collecting All Necessary Evidence
For any personal injury case, you must obtain and present sufficient evidence proving that another party was liable for accidents and damages. You must also have ample evidence of the damages you sustained. An experienced lawyer can help gather all pertinent evidence, including medical records and bills, photographic or video evidence, and witness statements. At the same time, you can continue to spend time recovering.
Building a Case
Once the attorney has collected enough evidence and details about the accident, the attorney can begin investigating the case and build a case in your favor. This could involve investigating the accident in depth to determine what happened and how it happened. The attorney will be able to help identify liable parties and begin seeking compensation from them or their insurance companies.
Representing Victims in Court
Most personal injury cases settle during the claims process and never end up in a courtroom. However, some cases may go to trial if victims cannot reach a favorable outcome with a claim. Lawsuits involve many complexities and require plenty of preparation to make a strong case.
If you do not have experience with the trial process, you could compromise your case by failing to prepare a strong case or making the wrong statement when representing yourself. If you have the right attorney on your side, you will be able to more efficiently navigate the legal process and avoid potential issues that come with self-representation.
Consult a Reliable Personal Injury Lawyer
If you want the best results from your personal injury case and successfully recover compensation, you should consider working with a reputable, trusted personal injury lawyer. The right attorney can handle every aspect of your case and provide the representation that victims need to get the compensation they deserve.
To learn about the options available to you when it comes to recovering compensation, contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case and rights.