Understanding Personal Injury Damages
Have you been hurt or injured? If so, you may be able to collect personal injury damages. Personal injury caused by accidents or negligence is not only disruptive, it can be exceptionally expensive and even life-changing. Fortunately, laws have been created to protect you from the costs of injury caused by the negligence of others.
The most common causes of personal injury claims include car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, assault, and workplace accidents. Filing a lawsuit can be a confusing process. If you decide to take legal action, you are going to need an experienced personal injury attorney with a proven track record.
Types of Damages Available to a Plaintiff
To understand how the law protects you when you suffer a personal injury, you have to know what kinds of damages can be awarded to you in a lawsuit. There are three. All three will require proving negligence as the cause of your “damages”.
- Economic Loss. This class of damages is meant to relieve you of the direct financial cost of your injury. This could include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, or the cost of living with a disability. Economic damages are the easiest form of damages for an insurance company to pay because the actual dollar cost is easy to establish.
- Noneconomic Damages. These damages are those that are not easy to pin a dollar amount on. This includes pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages are difficult to assign a value to. Consequently, they are the damages insurance companies defend against the most.
- Punitive Damages. Punitive damages can only be awarded when the defendant has committed a criminal act that resulted in your injury. Punitive damages are very difficult to get in Arizona. The Arizona Supreme Court has declared that punitive damages are only appropriate when the defendant’s conduct was such that it was guided by an “evil hand and evil mind.” If you seek punitive damages, you definitely want to use an attorney that has successfully tried these types of cases before.
How Are Personal Injury Damages Calculated?
Let’s assume you have established the defendant’s negligent actions or failure to act are the cause of your personal injury. That can actually be a big assumption because even if the negligence is obvious you have to prove it is the cause of your injury and subsequent financial and non economic losses.
As mentioned, economic loss is pretty straightforward because there are receipts for each expense. But how do you put a price tag on noneconomic damages like pain and suffering?
Like most everything in the legal system, precedent is important. In other words, what has been decided in the past is very influential on how a similar current case should be decided. This concept applies to calculating personal injury cases as well.
There are many elements that go into determining losses. For example, loss of future wages due to a disabling injury will be different for a 30-year-old plumber and a 50-year-old software engineer. Pain and suffering are even more difficult to define as people react differently. So, unless there are exceptional circumstances in your case, insurance companies, your attorney, and likely the judge or jury, will look to past similar cases for a dollar amount.
In smaller cases, insurance adjusters will often use a simple formula as an opening offer. They take your economic costs times 1.5 to 3.0 to come up with a number. In some instances, this is totally fair but in some, it will be way short of the real value.
If you live in the Scottsdale area and have been injured visit Massey Law Firm and review their case results. Specialists in personal injury law, the Massey Law Firm encourages you to contact us today for a free case evaluation. Learn what your case is worth and what the next steps should be in seeking a claim.
– Massey Law Firm, your Scottsdale Personal Injury Attorneys