“What is my claim worth?” If I’ve had one injured client ask the question I have had a thousand do so. Falsehoods in the media often have people confused about what sort of monetary recovery they should expect when they are injured in a car accident, by a dangerous product, in a 18- wheeler case or from any other negligent cause. We have discussed issues related to claim values before but there is always more to be said. The first answer is that your claim value is the same as the value of the damages you incurred. Calculating what your injuries cost you financially, physically and emotionally (or mentally) is neither easy nor precise. Having an experienced eye work with you to do a complete and fair evaluation of your claim is one of the many benefits you get from hiring a good personal injury attorney.
When there is a personal injury lawsuit or claim money damages are paid to the injured person (called the plaintiff if a lawsuit is filed) by the person or company who is legally responsible for the accident and injuries (that person is called the defendant in the lawsuit.) The defendant’s insurer often pays the damages but insurance payments are limited by the policy limits of the insurance policy the defendant purchased.
Damages are calculated two ways: 1) they can be agreed upon (settled) by the parties, the insurance companies and attorneys, or 2) after a trial the judge or jury can award them. Settlements can happen many ways including informal negotiations or in mediation.
While there is no chart or graph or calculation that applies to a damages claim, there are some basic concepts to help you understand the various components that are evaluated to reach a value of your injury claim damages.
Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Most of the damages in a personal injury damages are compensatory damages. This means that they exist to compensate the injured plaintiff for what he lost as a result of the injury accident. The idea is behind compensatory damages award is to try to make the injured plaintiff whole again from a monetary standpoint. This requires trying to capture in dollar figure all the consequences of an injury accident.
There are some compensatory damages that are straight-forward. Things like reimbursing for damaged property or medical bills incurred are easy to calculate. It is more difficult to place a monetary value on things like the physical pain people endure, the emotional suffering they go through or the lost ability to enjoy a hobby because of physical limitations caused by an injury accident.
The basic types of compensatory damages that are common in personal injury cases include:
Medical care and treatment: Personal injury damage awards always include the cost of medical care caused by the injury accident. This consists of both reimbursement for treatment already received and payment for the estimated cost of medical care you’ll need in the future because of the accident. Just getting medical bills paid and be quite a process.
Lost Income: If the injury accident caused you to lose income and will cause you to do so in the future, you will have a claim for that income. These claims require substantial proof ofor self-employed people and commission sales people.
Pain and suffering. The law provides you compensation to make up for the pain and discomfort caused by an injury accident.
Emotional distress. Emotional distress damages exist to compensate a plaintiff for the psychological impact of an injury. This includes things like fear, anxiety, and sleep loss. In Idaho a claim for emotional distress requires that there be a “physical manifestation of the emotional injury” to have a right of recovery.
Loss of enjoyment of life. If an accident injury keeps you from enjoying your regular pastimes like hobbies, exercise, and recreational activities, you may be entitled to receive “loss of enjoyment” damages.
Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of the care comfort companionship of your spouse
Damage Caps. Idaho law imposes certain arbitrary limitations on the damages you can recover. Dealing with those limitations can take aggressive lawyering.
If you establish for an Idaho Judge that the defendant’s injury causing actions were “an extreme deviation from reasonable standards of conduct done with a “harmful state of mind” you can ask a jury to award punitive damages in addition to your compensatory damages. Punitive damages exist to punish the wrongdoer and express societies “sense of opprobrium.” They are to deter future people from doing the same thing. These damages are not to make you whole but rather to punish others.
This is very different from the role of compensatory damages, which is to make you whole. The goal of these kinds of damages is to punish the defendant for its conduct — to hit them in the pocketbook. For a more in-depth discussion of punitive damage look at this blog post.
If your actions played a part in causing the injury accident that can diminish the amount of damages you recover in your personal injury case. Idaho applies the concept of comparative negligence that connects damages to degree of fault in a personal injury case. Your recovery is reduced proportionally to the amount of responsibility you have for the accident injury.
Failure to Mitigate
As a plaintiff in a personal injury case you are required to take reasonable steps to minimize the financial impact the injury accident. This is called mitigation. If you do nothing but sit back and wait for an award of damages without trying to get better or get a new job or do something else to try to reduce the harm to you, the damages amount can be reduced.
Our goal is to be the Best Personal Injury lawyers in Idaho. Whether you need a Meridian accident attorney an Idaho Falls trucking collision attorney or a McCall boating accident lawyer or a top personal injury lawyer anywhere in the state, call Holzer Edwards at (208) 386-9119 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help you.