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What Damages Apply to Your Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury case damages seek to place a dollar amount on the effects of an injury. The end goal of this process is to restore the victim to their previous condition and remedy the situation so it seems as if the injury had never occurred.

Of course, this process isn't always so simple. Disability, lifelong injuries, and trauma can make eliminating an injury's pain and other aftereffects impossible. To further complicate matters, judges and juries often have difficulty assigning value to nonmonetary damages.

While all personal injury cases have unique needs, some basic guidelines can help you determine if going to court merits the effort. Read on for a more in-depth explanation of common personal injury damage awards.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages seek to mitigate the effects of an injury-they should compensate for the victim's losses.

You generally have two ways to divide compensatory damages: special damages and general damages. Special damages include damages with a monetary value, while general damages involve non-monetary losses.

Monetary Losses

  • Medical care: Awards for personal injuries nearly always cover the cost of medical care. Medical care includes any treatment you have already paid for and any necessary care in the future. Future care might involve hospital or assisted living stays, physical therapy sessions, testing, or lifelong nursing care.

  • Property repair, replacement, and renovations: You can claim damages for any property loss or damage from the incident. You can also claim renovations if your home needs to be redesigned around a disability.

  • Lost wages: This covers any wages lost while you were unable to work due to injuries or recovery. These awards also include any loss in earning capacity. If you will suffer from a lower income as a result of an injury or a disability, your damage award will factor it into your compensation. This damage also compensates for any sick days or vacation you had to take while injured.

Non-Monetary Losses

  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress is one of the more common non-monetary damage awards. Physical pain not only includes the pain you have already experienced, but also any ongoing, long-term pain. Emotional distress can include fear, anxiety, sleep loss, and frustration. Psychiatric records or a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis can increase settlement or compensation offers.

  • Wrongful death: Spouses or parents of minor children can claim this if a family member dies as the result of another's negligence, carelessness, or intent. Learn more about these cases on our Wrongful Death (!wrongful-death/c1w44) page.

  • Loss of consortium/companionship: These damage awards compensate for elements of loss in a marriage or family. Between spouses, this can include loss of affection, help and assistance, and sexual relations. The court will assess the stability of the marriage, the affection shown before the accident, and the amount of care and companionship shared between the couple. Florida also acknowledges that unmarried, dependent children can also file for loss of consortium.

  • Loss of enjoyment: This loss can apply to a range of conditions, but damages tend to fall among things that affect your day-to-day enjoyment. They can include things like missed social opportunities, an inability to perform a hobby or exercise, and the inability to enjoy recreational activities

Because general damages don't carry a clear monetary value, correcting the damage often proves difficult. However, insurance agencies use a damage formula, also known as a pain multiplier, to solve this problem. This formula takes the cost of medical expenses and multiplies them by a scale of numbers, 1.5 to 5, based on the severity of the injuries.

Various factors affect the severity of your situation. These factors include things like the painfulness of the injury, the visibility of the injury, the intensity or length of medical treatment, and recovery time.

Insurance agencies will then add lost wages to this number to create a starting negotiation point. Because the agency could use any number between the spectrum of 1.5 and 5, your negotiating point can fall between a wide range of offers.

From this starting point, insurance agencies and victims assess a broader view of the situation to agree on a final damages award.

Punitive Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to "make the injured party whole again." Punitive damages, however, serve a different purpose.

These damages are awarded not to help the victim but to punish the offender. They act to harm the defendant and deter others from similarly reckless or negligent behavior. These damages aren't awarded in every case-only in cases where the defendant's behavior is particularly reckless or irresponsible.

If an accidental or intentional accident has affected your life, you likely face pain and stress already. While a legal battle may seem like just another burden, it can be necessary to provide you and your family necessary long-term care.

Use the information in this post and talk with a lawyer to determine if your situation warrants a personal injury claim.

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