If you have recently been injured in an accident and are trying to understand what to do next, you may have encountered the term “damages.”
While it’s a complicated term that warrants a deeper dive, to put it simply damages are financial compensation paid to accident victims by negligent parties as a legal remedy for the injuries and losses they have caused. It is often used interchangeably with the term “compensation.”
However, to fully understand what damages are and how they affect your case, we need to take a look at the three types of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. That said, each personal injury case – just like each accident – is different, which is why we recommend reaching out to a personal injury attorney to review your unique situation in detail.
Economic damages are the easiest to understand and quantify. They are intended to compensate injured victims for the financial loss directly caused by their injuries.
This can include immediate expenses, such as medical bills and property loss, but it also includes indirect economic loss. For example, if you are unable to work because of your injuries and it results in lost wages, you may be able to recover economic damages to compensate for these lost wages.
Further, economic damages can also include future expenses and losses. If, for example, you will need ongoing medical treatment such as prescriptions or physical therapy, economic damages may cover these expenses. Similarly, if you are unable to continue in your line of work, which impacts your long-term earning potential, you may be able to recover compensation for this long-term loss.
While future expenses may not be as simple to calculate as immediate expenses, we can rely on medical experts and other qualified professionals who can accurately testify to the long-term costs or losses associated with your injuries.
As you may guess by the name, non-economic damages have nothing to do with financial loss. Instead, the purpose of these damages is to compensate accident victims for the mental, emotional, and psychological consequences they are facing as a result of their injuries.
In some cases, particularly after serious accidents, the pain and suffering victims experience can be tremendous. For example, if a spinal cord injury makes it impossible to work, enjoy your hobbies, or live the active life you once led, you may be able to recover non-economic damages to compensate you for these challenges.
Non-economic damages may also include the effects an accident has on your relationships. Loss of consortium, for example, is a type of non-economic damage that seeks to compensate accident victims for the detrimental effects an injury may have on their relationships with significant others.
As with future economic damages, non-economic damages can be difficult to calculate. You can’t easily put a dollar number on pain and suffering. Nevertheless, there are accepted methods for calculating non-economic damages, including multiplying your economic damages by a number from 1 to 5, depending on the severity of your injuries.
An experienced injury lawyer can help determine the appropriate amount and help you fight for your right to non-economic damages.
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate accident victims for a loss. Instead, they are meant to punish negligent parties and set examples of them.
Punitive damages are much less common than other damages, only used when a defendant’s actions were so grossly negligent – even malicious – that the court feels additional punishment is warranted.
A good attorney can help your case in several ways. In terms of calculating damages, their breadth of experience can simplify questions about how much you deserve and are likely to recover.
More than that, though, a personal injury lawyer can fight for your right to fair compensation, which is often a significant challenge. Insurance companies are known to aggressively fight injury claims and they are good at trying to undermine your rights. An attorney can make sure this doesn’t happen while using their legal acumen and negotiating skills to hold insurance companies accountable.
Personal injury attorneys will also gather evidence, perform a thorough investigation, interview witnesses, and – if necessary – represent you in court.
As mentioned above, every case is different. How much your case is worth depends entirely on the details of your situation, from how severe your injuries are and how expensive your medical treatment will be to what effect the injuries will have on your career and quality of life.
One thing you should never do is trust what an insurance company says your claim is worth. They will likely offer you much less than what you deserve unless you hold them accountable.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, we have been fighting for our clients’ rights for over a quarter of a century. We believe that every person injured due to the fault of another has a right to pursue maximum compensation for all of their losses, and we are compassionate advocates for all accident victims in Indiana and Kentucky.
Please give us a call today for a free consultation. You can reach our office in Louisville, Kentucky, at (502) 222-2222 or in Jeffersonville, Indiana, at (812) 282-8500.