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What Are Damages In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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Meaning Of Damages In An Injury Lawsuit

If you’re dealing with a personal injury lawsuit, you may be wondering what Damages are and why you keep hearing about them so much. Well, damages in a personal injury lawsuit loosely translates into the amount of money that you have lost due to the injury you suffered in the accident. Typically this comes down to monetary costs like medical bills and lost wages due to the injuries sustained, but also includes extra compensation for things like the pain and suffering you went through, loss of quality of life and other things. In some situations, there may even be extra damages that are awarded as a punishment for acts that were extremely dangerous.

what are damages in personal injury lawsuits

In all civil cases, the at fault party is forced to pay for the damages they caused to the injured party. You can only receive compensation for damages if you have a valid personal injury claim though so make sure you speak with a qualified personal injury law firm to see if you are entitled to damage compensation or not.

Types of Damages In Personal Injury Lawsuits

Damages can be broken down into 2 main categories: Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages. Compensatory damages are the most common and are the main type of damages that every personal injury claim is based on. Let’s dive into the details of each type of damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the injured party for the adverse events that they have had to endure as a result of the at fault party’s negligence. Since the only legal way to pay someone back for an injustice done to them is to give them money, compensatory damages are the framework for what exactly should be compensated for.

Due to the fact that monetary costs are not the only thing that you may have to deal with, the compensatory damages category is further broken into two categories called economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages have an exact price tag for each issue, whereas non-economic damages cover things that don’t have a specific value tied to them. Let’s get into the details of each type.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are costs that you had to pay due to the negligent party’s actions that have an actual price tag for each item. This includes things such as lost wages, medical expenses, physical therapy costs, property damages, costs related to your injuries and anything else that cost you money as a direct result of the at fault party‘s negligent actions.

Since these all have a specific price tag to them, your settlement package will cover all of the costs associated with this accident and total them together to get your economic damages number. This is the bottom dollar that you will get for your settlement, but it is not the only form of compensatory damages that are authorized under Colorado law.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are another sub-set of compensatory damages that are meant to reimburse you for losses that do not have an exact dollar amount tied to them. This can be pain and suffering you endured during the accident & during your recovery process, mental anguish, loss of mobility, loss of quality of life, disfigurement, loss of limbs, scarring, permanent disabilities, loss of consortium, emotional distress and more. Since all of these types of losses don’t have an exact dollar value tied to them, they fall under the classification of non-economic damages and will be compensated for in addition to your economic damages.

The amount you receive for these non-economic damages will vary drastically depending on how severe your injuries and recovery process were. For instance, if you suffered the loss of a limb from the accident, you will likely be compensated much greater than someone who was able to make a full recovery from their injuries. The amount of non-economic damages will also vary based on what method each party uses to determine a fair value for this type of compensation and will likely have to be negotiated between the opposing parties as well before coming to a final number that can be agreed upon.

It is no secret that insurance companies try to low-ball the amount of non-economic damages they will agree to pay out. They typically do this by using economic damages as a baseline, and adding a percentage on top of that amount to account for non-economic damages. This is rarely, if ever, the fairest way to account for non-economic damages, which do not necessarily correlate with the amount of billed medical expenses. If you had a shoulder surgery that cost $30,000 but it took you an entire year to recover, during which you could not sleep well and had to miss out on family and other events during that time, you would not feel that you would be properly compensated for your pain and suffering, inconvenience, frustration, and other non-economic damages by getting a check for $15,000, for example.

The decision on the appropriate way to calculate non-economic damages is one that you should make on an individual basis after conferring with your attorneys. Do not accept an insurance company’s method of calculating these damages, as they are not designed with your best interests in mind.

Punitive or Exemplary Damages

Punitive or exemplary damages are meant to punish the at fault party for their actions and these damages are to be paid in addition to the compensatory damages. This is a very rare type of damages that is reserved for only the most reckless of actions that caused harm to another person, or acts that were done on purpose rather than negligently or by accident. Since the at fault party is already going to be held liable for the repayment of economic and non-economic damages to the injured party, punitive damages are only given out if the at fault party acted with severe disregard for the law or safety of others or acted with intention to harm. For example, someone that was driving drunk at 100 mph in a 55 zone and crashed into another car may be hit with exemplary damages because they knowingly broke the law in multiple ways and willingly put others in danger.

It is important to note that punitive damages are not awarded in most personal injury lawsuits. These are more the exception than the general rule. It depends upon the type of case, as well as the behavior of the at-fault party.

Situations Where Damages Can Be Claimed

Damages can be claimed in any personal injury case where there was an injury due to another person or company’s negligence, or purposeful act. Those negligent or purposeful actions must have caused an injury and those actions must be the direct cause of the injury. If all of those factors are present and the injured party suffered damages, then you have a valid personal injury claim and you can pursue compensatory damages.

Personal injury claims happen all the time and are most commonly a result of car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, aviation accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, rideshare accidents, premises liability accidents and boating accidents. Those are the most common accidents, but any other type of accident where the person acted negligently and caused an injury to another person could also become a personal injury lawsuit.

How To Calculate Damages

Calculating damages comes down to adding up all of your economic damages and then figuring out a way to calculate fair non-economic damages on top of that number. Unless you are a personal injury attorney, we don’t recommend trying to guess this number, because everyone calculates non-economic damages in a slightly different way, so it’s best to not have expectations when it comes to non-economic damage calculations and just leave it up to the experts of your case. Your compensation will include the sum of your economic damages as well as your non-economic damages and in the very rare case that punitive damages are awarded, you may get some extra from that (but don’t count on it).

How To Get Maximum Compensation

Getting maximum compensation for your personal injury claim is not going to be easy. The at fault party will likely have an insurance company and an attorney on their side that will battle you at every turn to try and lower your settlement package. So the best way to combat those experts is to have your own experts with an evidence backed lawsuit ready to go to war for you.

Injury claims have a lot of moving parts and for anyone that is not extremely familiar with the nuances of personal injury law and the tactics that are used to sway these cases, it can get very messy, very fast. Always make sure you have a top rated personal injury lawyer on your side before going to battle, otherwise the other side will take advantage of your lack of knowledge of the law and get away with giving you the least amount possible in compensatory damages.

Don’t let that happen to you, get help from our attorneys at Rector Stuzynski LLC. We have been fighting for injury victims for decades and have a long list of extremely happy clients to prove just how good we are at personal injury litigation. From start to finish, you can expect expert level legal representation and a compassionate team of staff members keeping you informed about your lawsuit progress every step of the way. Our law firm offers free injury claim consolations 24/7 over the phone or feel free to stop by our office in Colorado Springs, CO and speak with one of our lawyers in person.

Areas We Serve

We serve clients injured in slip & fall accidents anywhere throughout the state of Colorado, but we focus on residents of these areas: Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Briargate, Monument, Black Forest, Pueblo, Canon City, Larkspur, Security-Widefield, Peyton, Falcon, Calhan, Castle Rock, Teller County, El Paso County, Elbert County, Park County, Douglas County and beyond.

We serve clients injured in the following zip codes: 80907, 80909, 80918, 80917, 80931, 80932, 80933, 80934, 80935, 80936, 80937, 80941, 80942, 80946, 80947, 80949, 80950, 80960, 80962, 80977 ,80995 ,80997 80901, 80912, 80904, 80915, 80905, 80910, 80923, 80922, 80919, 80920, 80916, 80939, 80914, 80951, 80924, 80927, 80938, 80906, 80840, 80829, 80902, 80809, 80841, 80911, 80908, 80929, 80819, 80921, 80925, 80132, 80926, 80913, 80863, 80817, 80831, 80133, 80930, 80860, 80814, 80813, 80118, 80106, 80928, 80866, 80816, 80808, 80104, 80116, 81008, 80864, 80135, 81240, 81007, 80109, 81290, 80107, 80108, 80425, 81215, 81221, 80117, 80827, 81212, 80134, 80835, 81003, 80131, 81226, 81001, 80138, 80125, 81002, 81009, 81010, 81011, 81012, 80124, 81244, 80126, 80820, 80130, 80163, 80433, 80129, 80833, 80112, 80832, 81025, 81005, 81223, 81006, 80470, 80127, 80122 and beyond.