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Understanding Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, the American judicial system affords you certain rights. Among those is the right to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered during the incident.

Damages in a personal injury lawsuit are calculated by considering several factors that aim to fairly compensate the injured party for their losses and restore them, as much as possible, to their pre-injury condition. The calculation of damages in a personal injury lawsuit involves several different categories of damage, which we’ll explain below.

The first type of damage — economic damage — is perhaps the most easy to understand.

Economic Damages

Economic damages play a crucial role in personal injury cases, serving to compensate the injured party for specific financial losses incurred as a result of the accident or incident. These damages are tangible and measurable, making them easier to calculate and prove compared to other types of damages. Economic damages typically encompass various categories, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other related out-of-pocket costs.

Medical expenses constitute a significant portion of economic damages. This category covers costs associated with medical treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, prescription medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing therapies. The goal is to reimburse the injured party for the actual monetary outlay they’ve had to make due to their injuries, ensuring the medical consequences of the incident do not financially burden them.

Lost wages are another vital aspect of economic damages. These damages account for income that the injured person couldn’t earn due to the injuries sustained. This includes not only the wages lost during the recovery period but also potential future income if the injuries lead to a reduced ability to work or even permanent disability. Documentation such as pay stubs, employment records, and expert opinions may be utilized to calculate and substantiate these damages.

Property damage economic damages pertain to compensation for any damage to the victim’s personal property, such as vehicles in a car accident. The goal is to restore the individual to the financial position they were in prior to the incident, factoring in the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property.

Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury can also be claimed as economic damages. These might include costs for transportation to medical appointments, assistive devices like crutches or wheelchairs, home modifications for accessibility, and any other verifiable expenses incurred directly due to the injuries sustained.

Non-Economic Damages

General damages, also known as non-economic damages, refer to the losses that a plaintiff suffers after a personal injury. These damages are typically intangible and difficult to quantify in monetary terms. Unlike economic damages, which cover tangible losses like medical bills and lost wages, general damages compensate the plaintiff for the subjective impact the injury has had on their life.

General damages are designed to address physical, emotional, and psychological suffering caused by the injury. They can include compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship. These damages aim to restore the plaintiff to the position they were in before the injury occurred.

Juries and judges rely on their experience, knowledge, and empathy to determine a fair amount for general damages, considering similar cases and the overall impact on the plaintiff’s life. However, there are limits to the amount of compensation you can receive.

Arizona has three damage tiers:

  • Tier 1—damages of $50,000 or less
  • Tier 2—damages of more than $50,000 but less than $300,000
  • Tier 3—damages of $300,000 or more

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit are a type of monetary award that aims to compensate the injured party for the losses they have suffered from the accident or incident. These damages are designed to make the injured person whole again, to the maximum extent possible, and to alleviate the financial burden and hardships they may have faced due to the injury.

The assessment of compensatory damages considers various factors, such as medical expenses incurred due to the injury. This includes costs related to emergency treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, therapy, and ongoing medical care. It also accounts for future medical expenses that may be necessary for the injured party’s recovery and ongoing wellbeing.

Additionally, compensatory damages may cover any loss of income or decreased earning capacity caused by the injury. This takes into account the plaintiff’s ability to work and earn income before the injury and compares it to their current situation and potential future limitations. If the injury has rendered the plaintiff unable to work or compromised their ability to earn the same income as before, damages may be calculated to compensate for the financial impact.

Pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, are also considered when assessing compensatory damages. These damages are subjective and evaluate the physical pain endured by the plaintiff as a direct result of the injury. This can include the pain experienced immediately after the incident and any ongoing discomfort. Emotional suffering covers the mental anguish, distress, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life caused by the injury.

To determine an appropriate amount of compensatory damages, a number of factors can be taken into account, such as the severity of the injury, the impact on the plaintiff’s daily life, the duration of recovery, and any long-term effects or disabilities resulting from the incident. Medical reports, expert testimony, and other evidence may establish the extent of the damages and their monetary value to provide fair compensation to the injured party.

In a personal injury lawsuit the goal for your legal counsel in calculating damages in a personal injury lawsuit is to provide fair and just compensation for our client’s physical, emotional, and financial harm. The purpose is not to punish the defendant but rather to restore the injured party as much as possible to their financial position before the accident occurred.

Special Damages

Special damages, a form of economic damages, are a key component of a personal injury lawsuit. These damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for specific financial losses that they have incurred as a direct result of the injury or accident. The scope of special damages can vary depending on the individual case but commonly include medical expenses, both past costs and future medical needs. This can include hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, medication expenses, and fees for long-term health care.

Special damages can also account for lost wages or income due to an inability to work or diminished earning capacity. Additionally, they may cover property damage caused by the accident, such as repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle. To claim special damages, the plaintiff must provide supporting evidence, such as medical bills, receipts, employment records, and expert opinions. These documents help establish a clear and comprehensive picture of the financial impact endured by the injured party. The personal injury attorneys at Torgenson Law will work with you to gather the information required to make a compelling case for compensation.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit are a type of compensation awarded to the plaintiff on top of the more common compensatory damages. While compensatory damages aim to reimburse the victim for the monetary harm they have suffered, punitive damages serve to punish the defendant for their conduct and to deter similar behavior in the future, thereby promoting safety and accountability.

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not tied directly to the individual plaintiff’s harm. Instead, they are assessed based on the defendant’s behavior, typically when it is considered willful, wanton, or grossly negligent. Punitive damages are usually reserved for situations in which the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, such as those accidents resulting in wrongful death.

Contact Torgenson Law for a Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed in an accident, let the personal injury lawyers at Torgenson Law provide a clear and honest evaluation of your case and claim for damages.

Determining damages in a personal injury lawsuit can be a challenging and complex endeavor. However, our attorneys have tried hundreds of cases for clients just like you, and we know how to build a strong case for fair and adequate compensation. While every case is unique, call us at 602-726-0747, and we will walk you through the entire process that your claim requires.

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