Types of Damages in Personal Injury
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck or because of someone else’s negligence and are considering filing a personal injury case, you may be wondering how to assess the financial implications of your case. How do you calculate damages? How do you know the long-term ramifications of your injury and how they may impact your ability to continue working in your chosen field? Will you need long-term care, and can you be compensated for that? What about the ongoing pain and suffering you’ve faced – both emotional and physical?
The word “damages” refers to a specific legal framework that allows an injury victim to be financially compensated for the physical, mental, financial and emotional harm caused by another person’s negligence. Financial recovery for negligence on the part of another person often is construed as unseemly in media and culture, but the hard truth is that there is no more effective tool to compensate an individual for non-criminal but substantial harm.
While different states have varying approaches to how they define the different types of personal injury compensation, the state of Texas divides damages into three main categories: economic, non-economic damages and exemplary or punitive.
Economic Damages Explained
An injury victim may claim economic damages for losses that are easily quantified. Examples may include medical bills for treatment of injuries, lost wages for time off work due to injury, repairs to your vehicle in a car wreck and other expenses incurred after an injury that can be verified or documented. Simply put, if you can generate an invoice or a receipt for the cost, it’s an economic damage. Here are some other examples of economic damages:
- Lost wages for time off work during your recovery
- Loss of future earning capacity if you are no longer able to perform the duties of your chosen profession
- Loss of household services if the victim was a homemaker
- Caregiver costs if the victim requires long-term care
- Childcare costs if the victim was the primary caregiver for their children
- Medical treatment costs both immediate and long-term
- Loss of a vehicle and the cost of alternative forms of transportation
Non-Economic Damages Explained
Hard economic costs like lost wages are much more directly quantified, but the art of a personal injury case is often in the details of the non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are those costs that don’t have a price tag but are nonetheless a substantial loss or cause of suffering.
Before you brush aside the term, consider these questions which get to the heart of non-economic damages: How much would someone have to pay me to lose my ability to work in my chosen profession, lose a loved one, lose the use of my legs, etc.? The examples given are specific examples our clients have suffered and that we have pursued on their behalf in our Dallas personal injury practice. When it comes to personal injury law, these are the questions our legal process must answer for injury victims in addition to securing compensation for the economic hard costs of lost wages and medical bills.
Here are some examples of non-economic damages:
- Mental pain and anguish
- Physical pain and suffering
- Physical impairment and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium (applies only to spouses and children of injured parties)
- Loss of enjoyment of quality of life (e.g. unable to enjoy hobbies, play sports or engage in activities that were previously central to the person’s life)
- Loss of reputation
Punitive Damages Explained
The majority of personal injury cases do not include punitive damages but there is a place for them in our legal process. Punitive damages are awarded when the actions of the defendant are so egregious that they go beyond the more common idea of simple negligence. Economic and non-economic damages are awarded to restore the victim of an injury; punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant. An example of this would be awarding significant financial damages in a defective products case to punish a a corporation for placing defective products on the market.
Got a question about damages and or whether you should pursue a personal injury claim in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant or Denton County and beyond? Our firm has secured millions in damages for our personal injury clients, and we can help you navigate the complexities of a pursuing damages while also supporting you throughout your recovery. There is no cost to talk to use. Call us today for your free case evaluation.