The Losses that May Be Recovered after an Accident
When you have been hurt because of the negligence or carelessness of another person, you have the right to file a legal claim, or lawsuit, asking the at-fault party to pay “damages” for your losses. Damages are generally an amount of money paid by one party because of a breach of duty to that party. In a personal injury lawsuit, damages are typically a consequence of the breach (by the defendant) of the duty to act reasonably under the circumstances.
The Types of Personal Injury Damages Available
In a personal injury lawsuit, a defendant may be required to pay two different types of damages: compensatory and punitive damages. As a general rule, punitive damages are extremely difficult to obtain. Accordingly, nearly all damages awarded in personal injury lawsuits are compensatory (designed to compensate the injured party). There are six specific types of compensatory damages a jury may award:
- Lost wages or income—This may cover actual lost income resulting from the accident, as well as projected lost income, should the injury keep the plaintiff from working in the future. For injuries that prevent a person from ever working again, lost wages are calculated to a reasonable date of retirement.
- Unreimbursed medical expenses—An injured person may only recover those medical expenses not covered by insurance or otherwise paid for
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering—This includes past and future physical and emotional discomfort or distress
- Loss of companionship or consortium—This includes loss of the benefits of an intimate relationship with a spouse, as well as the loss of comfort, affection, love and guidance of other family members
- Loss of enjoyment of life—This covers the inability to engage in activities that brought joy, fulfillment or meaning before the accident, including the ordinary activities of daily life
- Property damage—The jury can award compensation for the loss of property, or the loss of value in personal property