Determining the Value of Personal Injury
When you have suffered a personal injury, you may be immediately aware of the some of the financial implications. You may be unable to work, and you may have substantial medical bills. These costs, however, will likely be only a part of what you can potentially recover. An experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a realistic assessment of the total value of your case, of what you can expect as the full measure of recovery for your losses. What are the factors that go into that determination?
The Different Types of Damages Available for a Personal Injury
When the negligence or carelessness of another person causes you loss or physical injury, you can seek compensation for the following types of losses:
- Compensatory damages — Compensatory damages refer to actual out-of-pocket expenses, or to any lost income due to the injury. This includes wages, salary or any other income that is not earned because of your injuries. It also includes un-reimbursed medical expenses, including the costs of physical therapy or rehabilitation. These damages must be proven with specificity. You must show exactly what your income was, what income was lost, any current or expected medical expenses, and the cost of replacing or repairing any damaged personal property. You can also recover for travel expenses resulting from your injury.
- General damages — These are damages that cannot be demonstrated with specificity, but which you have nonetheless incurred. Examples include physical pain and suffering, mental distress, disfigurement or permanent scarring, the inability to engage in activities that you love, or the simple loss of enjoyment of life.
Other Factors Affecting the Value of Your Case
Other factors that can have an impact on how much you recover include:
- The extent to which your actions contributed to your injury—If you were partially negligent, your carelessness will potentially reduce your damage award, and may negate it entirely.
- Whether you took reasonable steps after your accident to minimize or “mitigate” your losses—If you fail to get necessary medical treatment and your condition worsens, your potential damage award can be reduced.