What Can You Sue For in a Personal Injury Case?
If you have been injured by another person’s negligence, you may have the right to compensation for your injuries. As you build your case, you might wonder what you can include as part of your personal injury claim. What losses deserve compensation, and how can you calculate them effectively?
The insurance company can have a very different idea of the compensation you deserve and what elements you should include as part of your claim. The insurance company can offer you a settlement amount, but you may not feel that the offer reasonably reflects your losses.
What can you include as part of your personal injury case? How do you know if the insurance company’s offer is fair? Ideally, a personal injury settlement should compensate you for your financial and non-financial losses from the accident. Ensure that the compensation includes all the essential elements and details. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can give you a better idea of what losses you should realistically include as part of your claim and how to calculate them.
1. Your Medical Costs
Typically, your lawyer will put together your claim by looking closely at the medical costs you sustained due to your accident. Your medical costs answer two key questions about your accident and your injuries. First, they show the severity of the accident and your injuries. If you have severe injuries, you will have high medical bills.
Your lawyer will review the medical expenses for your injuries, from the bills you’ve paid, like co-pays and deductible amounts, to the more extensive bills submitted by your provider after your accident. A lawyer can ensure you include all the costs associated with your treatment, from the initial ambulance transport to future procedures you need to treat your injuries.
Emergency Medical Transport and Care
Treatment can begin at the accident scene and proceed to your local emergency room. Ambulance bills are high, often more than $1,100. Emergency room treatment can run into thousands of dollars. While that treatment may prove essential to your recovery, it signals the beginning of your medical costs. Emergency medical care often proves incredibly expensive, even when you sustain minor injuries like broken bones or severe cuts and lacerations. If you need additional treatment, like emergency surgery, it may further extend your medical costs.
Did you have to go to the hospital after your accident? Did you end up spending significant time there during your recovery? If so, you may have extensive medical bills related to your hospital stay. Keep all your medical bills so that you can include them as part of your injury claim.
Once you leave the hospital, you will often need ongoing care to help you recover from your injuries. You may have to return to your doctor for repeated visits and consultations. The cost of essential treatment can add up. Furthermore, you may need additional procedures to help you recover from your injuries, including additional surgeries. Make sure you talk to your lawyer about your ongoing expenses related to your injuries and how to include them as part of your claim.
Depending on your injuries, you may need considerable therapy to recover. Therapy takes three types: physical, occupational, and psychological.
Physical therapy helps rebuild strength and flexibility in the injured part of your body. You strengthen the muscles around your injury or build flexibility through physical therapy.
Occupational therapy helps you remain independent and accomplish necessary tasks despite limitations caused by your injuries. Through occupational therapy, many patients discover strategies to cope with the losses they face from their injuries.
Finally, many people who have sustained severe injuries need to go through psychological therapy to help them recover mentally and emotionally from the challenges of the accident and injuries. Psychological therapy can help build coping mechanisms and put patients in a better position to deal with any symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, or depression related to the accident.
2. Any Future Anticipated Medical Costs
In many cases, your recovery will include future medical procedures that you may not need right now but will need within the next few months or years. You can file your claim before fully recovering from your injuries, which means continued, ongoing medical costs to consider as you determine your future.
As you put together the losses you sustained due to your accident, ensure you include the anticipated cost of future medical treatment. Talk to your doctor about what procedures you will need and their estimated cost so your lawyer can include them as part of your injury claim.
3. Home Modifications
Following an accident that ends in debilitating, lifelong injuries, you may need to make some modifications to your home to make it livable despite your injuries. Some simple modifications can go a long way toward helping to protect your independence and providing you with what you need.
However, these modifications can be expensive:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Widened doorways
- Modifications to the kitchen or bathroom to make them more accessible
You may include modifications to your home as part of your injury claim. Talk to your lawyer about what is reasonable to include in your claim. Cosmetic modifications do not count. Instead, covered modifications will enhance accessibility.
4. Your Wage Losses
Often, severe injuries cause significant wage loss. Many people find themselves unable to work immediately after a serious accident. The pain from your injuries, and the need to recover before you can move easily, may make it impossible for you to return to your workplace. Furthermore, many employers have policies regarding physical fitness: if you suffer severe injuries, you may have to stay away from work until a doctor clears you to return.
Focusing on your recovery, rather than worrying about work, can go a long way toward improving your overall energy levels and your odds of making a full recovery. However, it can also mean you lose your income source during your recovery. Talk to your lawyer about your wage losses.
Did you have to miss work right after your accident?
Did your injuries prevent you from going back to work? A long hospitalization or injuries that make it impossible for you to perform your job duties could count as missed work immediately following your accident. Talk to your lawyer about how long you had to stay out of work and what wages you missed.
Did you have to use vacation or sick leave to cover your time out of work?
Sometimes, you might use your employer’s leave policy to help compensate you during your recovery. You may need that income to help manage your finances and pay your bills throughout your recovery. However, this decision may cost you a much-needed vacation later. Talk to your lawyer about the time you used out of your vacation bank or any other leave policy held by your employer to discuss what compensation you might deserve for the leave you took during recovery.
Did you have to miss additional work due to follow-up appointments or therapy?
Most appointments with your doctor or physical therapist will occur during the normal business day. Even if you schedule them carefully to avoid overlap, they can drain your energy and make it impossible for you to head back to work immediately afterward. You may return to work after your appointment but still miss significant work hours and the corresponding income. Discuss your missed work time with your lawyer as you submit your injury claim.
Did you have to limit your work schedule after returning?
Many people jump back to work immediately after an accident. Working right away means that you receive your normal income. However, many people find they cannot return to their full-time schedule before their injuries. If you must limit your work schedule due to your injuries, discuss these limitations, and their impact on your income, with your attorney.
5. Pain and Suffering
Many accident victims note that their greatest losses after an accident had nothing to do with their finances. You may find yourself suffering substantial physical pain from your injuries. This pain often means a lifelong need for support and treatment. You may have ongoing limitations because of your injuries that prevent you from doing what you want, from going out with friends to engaging in the hobbies that once filled your life. In addition, many people struggle with the staggering loss of independence with serious injuries.
Some accident victims also note that their injuries substantially impact their relationships with friends and loved ones. They may lose many of these relationships or find them forever changed due to the injured party’s need for a caregiver or ongoing support.
As part of your injury claim, you can include compensation for the pain and suffering you experience after your accident. A lawyer can help you determine the ideal method for calculating your suffering as part of your claim so that you capture the full extent of your losses.
Do You Have Questions About Your Injury Claim?
Do you need help determining what compensation you deserve as part of your injury claim, including how to break it down and what to include? Working with a lawyer provides essential guidance for your claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about how to seek the compensation you deserve.