Personal Injury: Evaluation Guide

Personal Injury Evaluation Guide
Personal Injury: Evaluation Guide
February 4th, 2020

If you were involved in a car accident or a slip and fall incident or sustained any other form of injury due to another party’s negligence and carelessness, then you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit is defined in the American legal system to hold and penalize the party responsible. Personal injury lawsuits are designed to get you the rightful compensation you deserve. But before filing the case, the most likely question to pop up in your head is, “How much compensation would I receive if I opt to file a personal injury lawsuit?” The simple answer to the question is evaluating the extent of the damages the personal injury has caused. 

In personal injury cases, the injured person (plaintiff) receives monetary compensation from the party (an individual or company) found legally responsible for partaking in the affliction of the injury. The compensation is paid by the individual (the defendant) or their insurer. The damage award or compensation could be negotiated by both parties involved in an out-of-court settlement or ordered by a judge/jury after a court trial. Given below is the list of damages that most commonly impact the compensation awarded. Personal injury damages can broadly be classified into the following two categories:

Compensatory Damages

Most damages caused by a personal injury fall under the compensatory damages category. These are meant to compensate the injured plaintiff monetarily for all the damages caused by personal injury. Compensatory damages account for evaluating the extent of the damages caused by the personal injury and calculating the money that could monetarily compensate for the losses. Compensatory damages are further divided into two categories based on the complexity of quantification. The categories are:

  1. Economic Damages – The damages can be quantified easily and have a fixed amount of monetary compensation associated with them. Let’s take a look at the different types of economic damages you can take into consideration for evaluating the compensation you are likely to get:
  • Medical Expenses: Compensatory damages for a personal injury almost always include the expenses incurred to treat the problems caused by the accident. Therefore, the compensation considers the treatment you have already received and the expenses you are likely to incur in the foreseeable future. 
  • Loss of Income: The personal injury or accident may lead to a loss of daily wages and salary and is taken into account when calculating the compensation you are entitled to. Like medical expenses, the income that was lost and the one you may lose in the future will be included and compensated for. 
  • Loss of Property: You are entitled to be compensated for any loss or damages to the property caused by the accident that resulted in the personal injury. Damages to clothing, vehicles and any other items are reimbursed according to their fair market values.
  1. Non-economic Damages: The monetary translation of these damages is difficult to quantify. Unlike economic damages, these damages do not have a fixed amount of money associated with them. Therefore, the calculation of non-economic damages requires extensive research, self-assessment, and the help of experts. The following are classified as non-economic damages:
  • Physical and Mental Pain Suffering: Both physical and mental pain and suffering are covered under a personal injury case. The severe discomfort caused in the aftermath of sustaining the personal injury could cause depression, phobia, anxiety, along with severe medical pain. While putting a fixed number to quantify the trauma caused is difficult, most states and juries calculate the compensation by multiplying the total of medical bills and lost income with a multiplier which lies in the range of 1.5 to 4. Thus, the compensation is labeled as special damages in personal injury legalese. 
  • Loss of Enjoyment: You are entitled to a loss of enjoyment compensation if the personal injury proves a hindrance that stops you from pursuing your hobbies or any other recreational activities. 
  • Loss of Consortium: A plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse or family may be strained due to the accident and considered part of the compensation. The loss of companionship or the ability to maintain a sexual relationship with the spouse, for instance, is an example of the loss of consortium. The law also considers the damage to the relationship between a parent and a child when one is injured in the accident. 
Personal Injury Law

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded on top of compensatory damages if the defendant’s conduct is legally proved to be outrageously careless. Although these damages involve awarding the plaintiff with monetary compensation, the objective of the punishment is to deter the defendant from not repeating the mistake. Punitive damages can easily cost the defendant thousands to millions of dollars. Consequently, most states have set a certain type of cap on the money that could be awarded under the category in personal injury lawsuits. 

Apart from these factors, your own action or inaction could impact the personal injury compensations you may receive. Here is how:

Comparative Negligence

If your negligence also partially contributed to the personal injury, it is likely to impact the damage award you will receive. This is because most state courts follow a standard known as “comparative negligence,” where the damage award is calculated based on the degree of the defendant’s fault. 

Contributory Negligence

A policy followed by a few states across America, contributory negligence would nullify compensation for personal injury cases if the plaintiff’s negligence was partially the cause of the accident. 

Failure to Mitigate and Limit Damages

The plaintiff is expected to take the necessary measures to limit and mitigate the impact of damages caused by the accident. If a plaintiff avoids doing so, it significantly reduces compensation awarded for the aggravated damages. A denial to get the required medical treatment after sustaining the personal injury, for instance, falls under this umbrella.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney and Claim Your Rightful Compensation

Personal injury cases require specialized supervision of experts who have the experience to put a value on the damages caused by the accidents. Absurdly high demands or quick negotiations will likely make you end up dissatisfied and with less compensation than you deserve. Personal injury attorneys are seasoned experts in the legal industry and can help you recover the compensation you deserve. These attorneys know the intricate details of personal injury cases that can play in your favor or against you. They then draft a formal personal injury demand letter outlining the compensation you intend to receive and negotiate a settlement with the defendant. Their expertise allows them to evaluate and weigh whether out-of-court settlements or a court trial would get you closest to the figure you expect in compensation. Sign up on The Legal Helpers today and find an expert personal injury lawyer to help you with your case.

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