Types of Personal Injury Compensation
In personal injury cases, you have the right to receive compensation from the person or company responsible for your injuries. You can get an award from the judge or jury of a trial, or you and the other party may agree on a settlement amount without having to go to court.
Personal injury cases happen when one person suffers harm because of the actions of another. The party to blame may be legally responsible for causing the accident or injury. The person harmed may then seek compensation for their personal injury case. Types of injuries can include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Workplace accidents
- Slip and falls
- Dog bites
- Product liability/defects
The Meaning of Compensation
Compensation, also known as damages, in a personal injury case is the award given to the injured party to pay for economic and non-economic costs due to the injury. States recognize two types: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages award the victim money to pay for losses occurring because of the injury. Punitive damages are to punish the responsible party.
When injured in an accident, you may need compensatory damages to pay for the things you lost because of the harm you suffered. There are two categories of compensatory damages: special compensatory damages and general compensatory damages.
Special Compensatory Damages
Special compensatory damages are quantifiable, which means you can place a dollar amount on the losses you received because of the accident. These damages may include reimbursement for:
After an accident, where you receive an injury, you may require medical treatment. These treatments are often not cheap and may add up quickly. You could receive payment to cover:
- Hospital room
- ER visits
When calculating the amount of damages, you can add the amount of income you will lose if you have to stay home from work. You can also estimate the future loss of income.
Property Damage or Loss
If your vehicle or other items got damaged because of the accident, you could receive money to reimburse you for replacing those items. The adjuster or judge may use the fair market value of the property to calculate the amount you receive.
General Compensatory Damages
General compensatory damages cannot have a monetary value assigned because they are non-economic losses. Common examples of general damages include:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering refer to the discomfort you feel because of your injuries. It also counts for any pain you may continue to have.
Emotional distress, which is the mental suffering you are going through because of the harm inflicted by the negligent party, is a basis for a claim for damages. Types of emotional distress can include:
Loss of Consortium
In layman’s terms, loss of consortium is the loss of companionship. This refers to the inability of you and your spouse to have a healthy marital relationship due to injuries sustained in an accident.
Punitive damages are punishment in the form of money. You may receive the damages if the court decides the other party’s conduct was malicious or intentional, but most states put a limit on the amount of damages awarded.
Factors That May Affect Your Award
Were you partially to blame for the accident or injury? Did you neglect to take care of your injuries after the accident? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then the amount of compensation you receive for your personal injury claim may decrease. States look at comparative and contributory negligence and any steps you took to minimize the damages caused by your accident.
Comparative negligence states that if you are partially or entirely at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, then the award will change to reflect that. States place a percentage on fault, so, in some states, even if you are 99% to blame, you may still receive an award if you can prove the other party is 1% at fault.
Other states follow the modified comparative fault model. There are two types of this model: the 50% rule and the 51% rule. Here, your damages decrease by your at-fault percentage. If you are over 50% or 51% responsible, then you will not recover any damages.
Contributory negligence maintains that if your injury is a result of your actions, then you will not collect damages from the other party. Only five states follow this concept:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
Failure To Mitigate Damages
Mitigate means to make something less severe or painful. Mitigation of damages requires the injured party to take responsible steps to decrease the pain and cost of what occurred after the incident. If the individual did not do so, the judge or the insurance adjuster may reduce the amount of compensation for your personal injury claim.
The Amount You May Receive From Your Personal Injury Settlement
As discussed above, the amount of damages awarded varies. As a result, you may get a different amount if you go to trial versus settling with the other party out of court. Insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys use formulas to calculate an amount you may want to accept. You can figure an estimate by:
- Adding your special damages together (medical, lost income, future lost income, property damage, etc.)
- Multiplying the total of special damages x 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 (the number depends on the severity of your injury)
The multiplier (1-5) is for general damages. It is difficult to quantify non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, so adjusters and attorneys use this multiplier. You may believe you deserve a higher number for general damages, but the adjuster might not agree. However, the insurance company will give you a starting figure, and you and your attorney can then negotiate.
Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Were you injured in an accident? Have you lost your job because of an injury and don’t know where you will get the money to pay your medical expenses? You need to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. Submit an online request or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer near you.