Possible Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuit
Accidents can result in significant personal injuries that create many expenses for the victim and can cause extreme financial hardships for the victim and the victim’s family. It seems unfair that a victim should have to suffer the physical and financial consequences of an accident for which the victim was not at fault. Therefore, the law allows personal injury victims to bring lawsuits against the person(s) responsible for their injuries. All United States jurisdictions allow plaintiffs who bring successful cases in state court to recover damages. While each jurisdiction may differ on the dollar amount of damages provided in individual cases, there are some common types of damages that are allowed in most jurisdictions.
Personal injury damages are intended to put a personal injury victim back in the position that he or she would have been had the accident not occurred. While a lawsuit cannot erase the physical pain and emotional suffering of an injured victim, or his survivors, a lawsuit can provide relief from the financial suffering that the victim and his family incur as a result of the accident. Specifically, damages may include:
- Compensation for Medical Expenses: this may include past, current and future medical expenses and rehabilitation costs that are related to your injuries. You may submit evidence of bills already received and doctor and therapist estimates of your future medical needs;
- Compensation for Actual Expenses Incurred as a Result of the Accident: your injuries may leave you unable to care for your minor children, unable to care for an elderly relative, unable to clean your home, unable to cook your meals or unable to run your own errands. It can be very expensive to hire people to take over these responsibilities for you and you may be entitled to compensation for these expenses if you are successful in a personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, if the personal injury victim dies as a result of the injuries sustained in an accident then his family may be entitled to compensation for his funeral costs;
- Compensation for Lost Income: If your injuries leave you unable to work, unable to work as many hours as you did prior to the accident, or unable to remain in the same job that you had before the accident then you may be entitled to lost income that you are now unable to earn because of your injuries. You may also be entitled to compensation for lost income if a family member whom you relied upon for income (such as your spouse or parent) died as a result of personal injuries from an accident;
- Compensation for Pain and Suffering: personal injury victims, or their survivors, may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering that you incur as a result of your injuries. Your spouse may also be able to recover damages for loss of consortium as a result of your injuries.
- Punitive Damages: in extreme and extraordinary cases of negligence, some jurisdictions may allow the court to award the plaintiff punitive damages that are not meant to compensate the plaintiff but, are rather meant to punish the defendant.
Personal injury law seeks to put the plaintiff back in the financial position that he was prior to the accident. The law recognizes that there is no way to undo all of the harmful effects of an accident but monetary damages can be important to a victim’s financial, physical and emotional recovery.