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What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Personal Injury and Wrongful Death |

Damages are one of three basic, and equally important, factors to consider in determining whether you might have a legal right to compensation. These factors are 1) Liability, 2) Damages, and 3) Recoverability, and must all be present in order to have a successful personal injury or wrongful death case. For a general overview of the three factors, please see this article: How Do I Know If I Have A Strong Personal Injury Case?

Various types of damages can result from a personal injury case for which you may be entitled to compensation. In general, damages in a personal injury case can be divided into economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages, such as medical costs, lost income, and the destruction of personal property, can be determined objectively, because these are actual costs that have clear monetary values.

Assessing non-economic damages is a more subjective process. Assigning a value to permanent injury, scarring, disability, and other non-economic damages is more complicated because it involves subjective analysis, expert witness opinions, physical as well as psychological manifestations, etc. Especially in traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, there can be numerous hurdles to overcome, in proving that such damages exist and that they are caused by the accident at issue, in order to win your case. This makes it crucial to have an experienced legal team, such as Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., at your side from the start.

The following is a list of some of the more common damages sought to be recovered in personal injury and death cases:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes coverage for all necessary medical treatment stemming from the injury, such as hospital bills, surgeries, medication costs, physical therapy, rehabilitation, medical equipment, and any other healthcare expenses directly related to treating the injuries sustained in the accident. These amounts are recoverable even if paid by health insurance or other insurer.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to the inability to work following the accident. This may include wages, salary, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of income that the injured party would have earned had they not been injured and unable to work. Lost wages can extend to the past and future, depending on the severity and duration of the injuries. These amounts are also recoverable even if paid by disability insurance or other insurer.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages awarded for the physical and emotional distress experienced as a result of the accident. This includes the physical pain and discomfort endured due to the injuries, as well as the mental anguish, emotional trauma, and diminished quality of life resulting from the accident and its aftermath.
  • Property Damage: Reimbursement for the repair or replacement of damaged property. In the case of a car accident, this covers the costs associated with repairing or replacing the damaged vehicle, and replacing personal items destroyed or damaged in the accident (glasses, cellular telephones, computers, luggage, etc.)
  • Permanent Disability or Disfigurement: Compensation for long-term or permanent injuries resulting in disability or disfigurement. This includes injuries that result in permanent physical impairment, such as paralysis or an amputation, as well as disfiguring injuries that significantly alter the individual’s appearance, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) which may not be physically visible but which can have permanent and life altering consequences.
  • Loss of Consortium: Damages awarded to compensate for the loss of companionship, affection, support, and intimacy resulting from the injuries sustained in the accident. This applies to the impact the injuries have on the injured party’s relationship with their spouse, significant other, or immediate family, including the loss of love, care, and guidance.
  • Loss of Potential Future Earnings: Compensation for the income the injured party would have earned in the future had the accident not occurred. This is calculated based on factors such as the individual’s age, occupation, education, earning capacity, and the extent of their injuries. For death cases, this is calculated utilizing the Social Security Administration (SSA) Actuarial Life Tables (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html) to determine the decedent’s remaining life expectancy as a basis for future lost income and support.
  • Punitive Damages: These are additional damages or compensation awarded in cases of extreme or “gross” negligence or intentional conduct on the part of the at fault party, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, engaging in reckless behavior, or intentionally causing harm. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at fault party/ defendant for their egregious behavior and to deter similar misconduct in the future. These damages are typically awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions are reckless, malicious, or intentional.

Unfortunately, the more severe the injuries and the further an injured party is removed from the location of the accident at issue, the more difficult it can be to make a claim for damages. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s core mission is to assist those with cross-border legal matters.

Where the damages are so severe that the injured party cannot effectively work with us, we can work with the assistance of family members and other trusted third parties. This may include working with foreign country court appointed guardians. In death cases, we work with the survivors and family of the deceased to seek compensation for their damages. We are also aware that facing a legal proceeding for damages in the United States of America may seem like an impossible task from a foreign country. However, we routinely handle such cases and utilize the latest technology and legal innovations to ensure a smooth proceeding with very limited or no need to travel to the United States of America.

If you want to watch a short video of John Urban, head of litigation at UTPA, speaking on the topic of damages please follow this link: What are Damages?