When an individual is injured due to another person’s lack of due care, the offending party is guilty of negligence. The injured party has the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain damages equal to their current and future losses. However, there is some confusion amongst the general public as to what the term “damages” means.
A Brief Explanation of Damages
In personal injury cases, “damages” is the money provided to the injured party to compensate for the harm endured as a result of the offending party’s negligent, intentional or reckless behavior. Personal injury damages are divided into two distinct types: economic damages and non-economic damages. Both economic and non-economic damages can be sought in a personal injury case. If the plaintiff endured a personal injury, it is possible to obtain economic damages to cover the cost of medical expenses. The plaintiff can also push for compensation to account for lost income caused by the accident. If the injury is serious to the point that the plaintiff endured pain and suffering, loss of companionship or another intangible loss, it is also possible to push for non-economic damages.
Economic Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, are financial compensation provided to the injured party for losses endured due to the defendant’s actions. Economic damages can be quantified with receipts for medical bills along with other forms of documentation. Examples of this type of damage include: lost income, diminished earning capacity, medical bills, property damage to an automobile and the cost necessary to replace an automobile that has been completely totaled.
The cost of replacing damaged property after an auto accident is easy to quantify as the victim’s amount of lost income can be measured down to the penny. If the defendant paid to repair or replace damaged items or if his or her medical bills are available, it will not be difficult to quantify the cost of replacing damaged property. Let’s take a look at an example for further clarification.
Consider an individual texting while operating a motor vehicle. This negligent driver drives straight into another vehicle. The collision results in a totaling of the victim’s vehicle. This unfortunate driver paid $40,000 for the new vehicle a few months ago. This means the cost of replacing the automobile is right around $40,000 minus depreciation. Determining the cost of replacing damaged property becomes that much more complicated when a price tag is placed on medical care that will be required in the days, months and years to come. Our experienced personal injury attorneys led by Richard Schibell are here to help quantify these costs across posterity and obtain appropriate compensation.
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, stem from the at-fault party’s negligent action. However, it is more challenging to quantify non-economic damages as the type of harm in question is not tied to damaged property, medical bills or lost income. As an example, consider an individual hit by an automobile while traversing a crosswalk. The victim suffers a broken leg that causes considerable pain for months after the collision. The victim cannot walk. Nor can the victim get out of bed without assistance. The pain is so severe the defendant is limited to a wheelchair and cannot sleep at night. In such a situation, the victim can be awarded non-economic damages for pain and suffering. Additional examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, loss of companionship and/or consortium, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement.
If you are a loved on has fallen victim to a personal injury, call Schibell Law today for your free consultation.