Determining Damages In A Personal Injury Claim
In any personal injury claim the question “what types of compensation (or damages) am I entitled to” comes up. Florida law sets forth the type of damages allowed for personal injury claims, including the legal threshold to recover damages. The purpose of the law on damages is to recover an amount of money equal to the amount of harm you have suffered. This “making a person whole” concept has been the cornerstone of personal injury claims that come before a jury to evaluate and consider when awarding money damages.
A good way to look at the issue of damages is to break down the types of compensation into two main categories; economic and non-economic damages.
Lets start with economic damages.
Economic damages are compensation for out of pocket expenses for things like medical care, therapy, medications, diagnostic studies like CAT SCANS, MRIs, X-Rays and nerve conduction studies.
Economic damages go beyond medical issues and involve the amount of money someone has lost by not being able to work. Wage loss is an important consideration in any evaluation of damages because a person’s ability to earn money (earning capacity) in the future may be affected.
When considering damages one must also consider property damage claims. Your car may have been damaged; your personal items such as clothing and other items in your car may have been destroyed in the crash. Each of these items is recoverable.
Non-Economic Damages ( Human Damages)
The largest component of damages are those damages that I call Human Damages. Human Damages are for things like the amount of pain a person has experienced due to the negligence of another. The pain often causes suffering, which is another legal component of human damages that is to be evaluated.
Florida law also allows a jury to award separately for the loss of consortium (or enjoyment of life) from an injury. Those activities you enjoyed doing before the accident that you can no longer do is to be taken into account in a personal injury award.
Unquestionably, injuries can cause mental anguish and emotional distress. Although one cannot see mental anguish or emotional distress, testimony of these injuries is allowed and a jury will consider all that you have been through.
In certain cases the at fault person’s conduct was so bad that you may be entitled to Punitive Damages. Punitive Damages are the types of compensation that go beyond the concept of making you whole. Instead, they are designed to punish the wrongdoer for injuring you in an amount that will act as a deterrent to them repeating the conduct.
Examples where punitive damages have been allowed include people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Other examples include people who cause accident because they were on the phone or were texting while driving. Studies have shown that driving and texting is as dangerous as driving under the influence. While the modern convenience of instant communication is great, it can also be deadly.
In addition, punitive damage claims have been allowed against companies whose hiring and retention of employees has been reckless. An example is not doing background checks for employees with criminal records, or failing to obtain the driving history of an employee who is given driving duties.
Putting the damage case together
What is important for you to consider is to hire an auto accident attorney that knows not only the legal elements of damages, but also knows how to put the total damage picture together in front of a jury for their consideration. Your claim should be handled by experience counsel familiar with the law on damages, and experienced with evidentiary considerations involved in presenting a claim to ensure a jury hears the right testimony.
We are more than willing to discuss with you any aspect of damages you are entitled to. Contact one of the auto accident attorneys at 800 360-7015 today and we will help.