What Types of Damages Are Available in Personal Injury Cases?
Without ever planning for it or seeing it coming, you or a loved one may be involved in a serious accident that causes severe injuries. When a traumatic accident occurs, the situation can feel totally helpless, and you may have low expectations about the future.
While there is no doubt that a serious personal injury can change your life, and may even leave you with a life-long disability, there may be hope for your financial recovery. By filing a personal injury claim against the responsible party, you may be able to recover compensation for the full value of your losses. Attorney Marc Brown is here to help. Learn more about the types of damages that may be available in a personal injury case, and contact us today to request a free consultation.
The first category of compensatory damages—damages that are designed to compensate the victim—is economic damages. Sometimes, these are also referred to as special compensatory damages. Generally, economic damages refer to monetary compensation for actual, calculable economic costs that the plaintiff has incurred or is expected to incur as a direct result of their injury. Types of economic damages that may be available in a personal injury case include:
Medical expenses. When a person is injured in an accident, they will inevitably require medical care. In the United States, healthcare costs are some of the most expensive in the world. A person who requires serious care may incur large amounts of medical debt, even facing bankruptcy in some cases. Through a personal injury claim, you’ll reserve the right to seek compensation for the full value of your medical expenses and future medical costs. This includes any costs of prescriptions, medical equipment, hospital stays, surgeries, therapies, and more.
Property damage. Depending on the type of accident in which you were involved, you may have incurred property damage costs in addition to physical injuries. If this is the case, you can seek compensation for the full value of your lost property, such as the value of a totaled vehicle.
Lost wages, earnings, and benefits. A serious injury doesn’t just mean economic losses in the form of medical bills. It can also mean a disability or injury that prevents you from being able to return to work in either the short- or long-term. When this is the case, you deserve to be compensated for the full value of any lost wages you have suffered, as well as future lost wages. You also have the right to seek compensation for other earnings and benefits you would have accrued but for the accident, such as the value of wages of the promotion you were expected to receive, the retirement savings you would have accumulated, etc.
Other economic losses. If you have suffered any other economic losses as a result of your accident, you can seek compensation. For example, travel expenses to and from the doctor, the costs of a personal aid to assist you after your accident, etc.
Noneconomic damages, also called general damages, are harder to quantify and cannot be calculated in a precise and totally neutral manner. That’s because these damages are not reflective of actual economic losses that a person has suffered. Instead, they represent the value of a person’s intangible losses. Types of noneconomic damages that are recoverable in a South Carolina personal injury claim include:
Pain and suffering. These damages are awarded to individuals who have suffered injuries that have resulted in physical pain and suffering. These damages may be calculated using the per diem or the multiplier method. The opinion of an expert who can testify to the degree and duration of pain and suffering will be necessary.
Physical impairment and disfigurement. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, an individual who experienced physical impairment and disfigurement that is lasting will likely be entitled to compensation for this harm.
Emotional distress and mental anguish. In addition to suffering physically, serious injuries can also take a toll on a person mentally, too. Emotional distress and mental anguish, including the development of psychiatric conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, may affect someone who’s been involved in a serious accident.
Injury of reputation or humiliation. Injury victims are also able to recover for any impairment to their reputation and standing in the community, personal humiliation, shame, and disgrace caused by the actions of the at-fault party.
Loss of enjoyment of life. Individuals who have suffered injuries are entitled to compensation for being limited in their ability to participate in and get pleasure from the normal activities of daily life. Injury victims should also be compensated for the inability to pursue his/her talents, interests, and/or hobbies.
Wrongful death general damages. Loss of consortium, loss of society and companionship, etc. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you can bring forth a wrongful death claim for damages. In addition to the above damage types, you can also seek compensation for the value of the loss of the deceased’s companionship, guidance, and love.
Finally, the third type of damages recoverable in personal injury cases is punitive damages. Punitive damages are not designed to be compensatory. Instead, they are designed to punish a defendant for egregious wrongdoing. While compensatory damages are uncapped in South Carolina, there is a cap on punitive damages. This cap is $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater. (South Carolina Code Section 15-32-530). Note, however, that there are some exceptions. If the trial court finds that the defendant had an intent to harm, for example, then there is no cap on punitive damages.
Get Legal Help Today
Just because there is the possibility of recovering compensation for the full value of your losses does not necessarily mean that you will be able to recover all that you deserve. The value of a personal injury settlement is based on many factors. By working with an experienced injury lawyer, however, you can significantly improve your chances of recovering the settlement you deserve. For help with your case, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm today and request a free initial consultation.