Most accidents result in financial, physical, and/or emotional costs. These expenses and losses are referred to as damages. Generally, two types exist: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory are those awarded to help make the accident victim whole. They include economic and non-economic damages. Punitive are those ordered to punish the wrongdoer. They are granted only in cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was particularly heinous.
The damages you incurred because of your accident determine how much your case is worth. Getting just compensation from the at-fault party ensures that you have the funds necessary to take care of current and future expenses and losses. Thus, your damages must be accurately calculated. Because there is a lot to consider when evaluating your case, having a personal injury attorney on your side is helpful.
Compensatory damages give you the funds you need to restore your financial, physical, and emotional state. Essentially, the idea is that the money will help bring you to the position you were in before you were injured. Indeed, compensation cannot fully make you whole again. Still, it does ease some of the burdens arising from your accident.
Often, accident victims ask personal injury attorneys how much their case is worth, meaning what they can collect in damages. While this is an understandable and important question, it’s not easy to answer. The damages one person incurred will be much different than those of another person, which means no set formula can calculate the value of a case.
Instead, each matter must be fully examined individually to determine its value. The evaluation requires looking at the two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are those with a dollar amount attached to them. However, calculating them can be difficult because you must do more than simply add up out-of-pocket expenses. You may also need to estimate costs that might arise in the future.
Below are a few examples of economic damages and how they can be evaluated:
- Medical costs. This includes expenses stemming from treatment, prescriptions, and tests needed to diagnose and care for injuries. Treatment already received can be calculated by documenting bills and receipts. However, you may also be able to recover costs for future care. Because you haven’t received this care yet, you won’t know how much it will be. Thus, you may need to rely on the testimony of medical experts who can speak to the type of treatment you will still need and the reasonable expenses associated with it.
- Lost wages. Your injuries might cause you to miss work, leading to lost income. You can determine the amount of lost wages by reviewing your pay stubs or tax forms. Because you may also be entitled to collect compensation for lost future earnings, you may need the help of a medical expert to determine how long before you can go back to work and whether you will be able to return to your pre-injury position or must accept a lower-paying job because of your injuries. A financial analyst may be necessary to discuss what reasonable future earnings you’ll be missing out on.
- Repair costs. If the accident led to property damage, you might be entitled to compensation for the costs of fixing or replacing the item. The amount can be determined by repair bills or a determination of the property’s current value.
Non-economic damages are subjective losses arising from an accident. They are associated more with your personal well-being than with your financial burdens. Because non-economic damages do not have a dollar amount attached, they can be a bit more challenging to calculate than economic damages.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering. This refers to the discomfort you experience because of your injuries.
- Mental anguish. This deals with the psychological effects of your accident. The value may be ascertained by reviewing your psychiatric records.
- Loss of enjoyment. This concerns limitations brought about by your injuries, preventing you from finding pleasure in activities you once participated in. You may be able to evaluate this loss by documenting your pre-injury lifestyle.
Unlike economic damages, punitive damages are not awarded to restore your life. Rather, they are ordered to punish the at-fault party for their conduct.
Punitive damages are awarded only in a few personal injury cases when the other person’s behavior is deemed reprehensible.
Contact Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. for Legal Assistance
To determine how much your personal injury case is worth, you must know what damages you can collect and how to evaluate them. A Kansas City attorney can help seek just compensation.
To speak with a member of our team, please contact us at (888) 398-2277.