In personal injury cases, the worth of your case is directly related to the extent of your injuries. Medical expenses, along with other injury related costs, are largely considered in the court’s calculation of a damage award. It’s a difficult task to estimate the exact value of your claim, especially for intangible damages like pain and emotional distress. An experienced Charlotte injury attorney can prove extremely helpful with this task.
There are various elements to a personal injury claim, so it’s important to understand what you can include in your claim. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate you for the losses of your injury, and there are two types: special damages and general damages.
Among the two, special damages are the easiest to quantify. These expenses are generally well documented, only requiring that you gather the evidence. These include:
- Medical costs, which can be documented through receipts and billing statements. They include emergency medical services, doctor’s visits, surgical costs and pharmaceutical expenses. Rehabilitation costs and lab tests are also included as medical costs;
- Loss of income, which is demonstrated through pay stubs and tax returns. You can also submit documentation from your employer about your rate of pay and the amount of income you have lost since the accident. If your inability to work is to continue, you can also include loss of future wages in your claim for compensation, as long as you have a definite return to work date;
- Property damage, which is generally quantified by the fair market value of the property at the time of damage. In some instances, like the repair of a vehicle, the cost of repair is used to document the amount of loss; and
- Out-of-pocket expenses, which are costs indirectly related to your injuries. Medical assistance devices and over-the-counter medications are included in this category.
General damages can prove more challenging to calculate. Though they are legitimate and valuable damages, the exact value is sometimes a matter of personal opinion. Your determination of the value may greatly differ from the insurance company’ determination of value. Examples of general damages include:
- Pain and suffering – This claim is an attempt to quantify the amount of physical pain caused by the injury. it is largely dependent on the types of injuries suffered, along with their duration. More serious injuries, like those requiring numerous surgeries and substantial recovery time, are worth larger compensation amounts. It is also important to consider whether the injuries will continue into the future, which also adds to the value. Long term and permanent injuries generally result in the highest compensation amounts. If your injuries resulted in any of the following conditions, consider raising your pain and suffering claim amount:
- Sleeplessness – Traumatic injuries often interfere with the victim’s ability to get proper rest;
- Depression – It is common for victims with significant and prolonged physical pains to experience depression; or
- Loss of family engagement – If your injuries have substantially limited your ability to interact and engage with family members, this adds to your resulting suffering.
- Loss of consortium – This is a claim involving the loss of sexual intimacy between you and your partner, due to your injuries. It may include medical disability or the emotional pain of divorce if the loss of consortium was a cause; and
- Emotional distress – The pressure and stress of serious injuries often leads to various types of emotional distress. If you require treatment for psychological or emotional conditions following the injury-causing incident, you may be able to collect special damages for your distress.
Punitive damages are more likely to apply in cases involving recklessness and gross negligence. The court uses these damage awards for two basic reasons: punishment and prevention. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the actions of the responsible party, in situations where he or she acted in a reckless of particularly egregious manner. The court also awards punitive damages to deter the at-fault party from repeating the same behavior in the future.
Determining the worth of your case is a detailed and complicated task. To gain a glimpse at how the court may handle your case, it may prove helpful to view similar cases that have been heard by courts in your jurisdiction. Cases with similar issues and injuries can prove useful when trying to determine the worth of your claim.