When you or a loved one are suffering as the result of an injury caused by someone else, you will also have medical bills and other financial obligations to compound your struggles. For many people, the undue financial burden presents a hardship that is difficult to surmount without help. Fortunately, personal injury claims provide a way for you to receive compensation for your injuries, offsetting or eliminating the financial damages you accrued after the incident.
In fact, the potential for compensation is the chief reason people file personal injury lawsuits. However, it is important to know as much as possible about how compensation works before beginning legal proceedings. Knowing what to expect can help you temper your presumptions and provide some peace of mind when it comes to your case and the potential amount you may receive – consider the below points when requesting legal representation.
What Is Compensation?
While the general understanding of “compensation” refers to a payment in exchange for work done or a negative event, the legal definition is a bit more nuanced. In fact, the official term for compensation is actually “compensatory damages.” The term refers to the negative effects the incident and the resulting injury had on you and the monetary award that addresses them.
In short, when you receive an injury due to the fault, carelessness, or negligence of someone else, your life is disrupted in a number of ways that affect you financially. The practice of seeking compensation for these damages is meant to restore you to the undamaged state you were in prior to the incident. The amount of compensation you can receive directly correlates to the calculated sum of the damages you received from the incident and is either determined by a judge or jury during a trial or decided via settlement before the case goes to court.
What Types of Damages Could You Experience?
There are multiple forms of compensatory damages you could experience as the result of your personal injury claim, depending on the nature of the incident, your injuries, your expected recovery, and more. Compensatory damages can include:
- Medical bills. The most obvious form of financial disruption after an injury is the associated medical bills you experienced. When you file a personal injury claim, you will include the total amount of medical bills accrued so far. In many cases, you can also include an estimate of future medical expenses, including additional appointments, surgery, and medical equipment costs.
- Lost wages and lost future wages. Another common type of compensatory damage included in a personal injury lawsuit is lost wages. If you were forced to miss work, experience reduced hours, or generally lost wages as the result of your injury, be sure to include pay stubs and payment history as part of your damage claim. Similarly, if your medical team concludes your injuries will also prevent you from returning to work in the future, you may include lost future wages with your damages. You will need to produce proof of past wages and your expected recovery time to claim a loss of future wages.
- Pain and suffering. While lost wages and medical bills are a concrete example of financial damages and can be compensated with a dollar amount that reflects the lost funds, pain and suffering are more difficult to define. In most cases, the attorneys involved – as well as a judge or jury – will consider the extent of your injuries, the type of injuries, length of recovery, and the lasting effects of the injury when deciding whether you deserve compensatory damages for physical pain and suffering. Similarly, if your injuries caused you a great degree of emotional distress and suffering, they can similarly qualify you for compensation.
- Loss of consortium. Rarely, a judge or jury may award damages for loss of consortium. In a basic sense, loss of consortium reflects your inability to provide your spouse with adequate companionship after your injury. However, this type of damage is usually reserved for wrongful death or personal injury incidents that resulted in very serious injuries, such as brain or spinal cord injuries.
While compensatory damages must be present to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, there is another type of damage worth mentioning. Punitive damages are much less common than compensatory damages and result from a plaintiff’s gross negligence or malice. If the plaintiff acts maliciously or with intent to cause harm, the courts may award punitive damages to punish those involved.
Questions Regarding Your Potential Compensation?
While the types of damages and compensatory value damages like medical bills and lost wages may hold are relatively straightforward concepts, other aspects of compensation are more difficult to define. In particular, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of consortium, and punitive damages are largely dependent on your unique case. As a result, it is best to consult with a skilled attorney to determine your eligibility for compensation.
If you or a loved one have received injuries through no fault of your own, contact the professionals at Black & DePaoli, PC. You can schedule a free consultation with our Folsom personal injury attorneys to determine whether you are eligible for compensation and begin determining the reimbursement amount you may receive. Reach out to our legal team as soon as possible for more information.