Economic recovery is something many victims are unaware they’re entitled to before seeking legal representation after an accident. After suffering trauma due to an accident, malpractice, or injury victims must seek expert legal advice as quickly as possible once they’ve sought to stabilize anything life-threatening on the medical side.
After suffering an accident as severe as a traumatic brain injury, there may be a wide range of reasons a victim may be entitled to compensation. Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, and the general prognosis made by medical professionals (known as “expert witnesses” should the case move to trial), victims may qualify for various routes of compensation such as damages which include economic recovery. A Board Certified accident lawyer is the best way for victims to seek out sound legal advice as to what they’re entitled to under the law.
Without an experienced lawyer to represent the best interests of the injured party, a person who has sustained serious and even life threatening injuries may be missing the chance to obtain compensation which could include damages. The term economic recovery is broad and covers a wide range of available tools that can benefit a victim and help the process of restoring their quality of life.
What information is available to victims?
In this article we’ll thoroughly explain the types of economic recovery available to victims and their families and how a Personal Injury lawyer obtains these damages from a legal standpoint. As with any determination of damages, the jury must have substantial proof of what the accident or wrongful death is “worth” to be able to award compensation on behalf of the victim.
A lawyer with years of trial experience can explain all the options available after an accident (Alternative Dispute Resolution methods may take the place of a trial and have an equally successful outcome). While there is no dollar amount that can replace a lost loved one after a wrongful death or fully restore quality of life to those who have lost a loved one or have become irreparably injured, it’s financial compensation after an accident that helps to relieve the burden of post-accident financial strain. It’s highly plausible that damages can be obtained after an injury or wrongful death caused by the negligence or recklessness of another either during a process known as mediation, or by taking the case to trial, where a judge will rule on a verdict.
Pain and suffering: what is it?
Personal Injury lawyers use the term “pain and suffering” frequently, though the term is broad and must be clearly defined over the course of the case (mental anguish, physical pain, and PTSD are all forms of “pain and suffering” and must be well established). Pain and suffering is simply a broad legal term that covers many aspects of Personal Injury litigation. However, the actual meaning of the term has become too often lost on inexperienced, younger lawyers that attempt to take on cases they’re not yet experienced enough to see through to resolution.
“Pain and suffering” itself is not only determined by the physical, visible aspect of the accident, for instance an amputation injury which can be seen and would not be disputed should the case go to trial. Unfortunately for the emotional and mental aspects of a victim’s case, the court must place a monetary value on the victim’s suffering in order to determine the damages to be awarded. To determine damages, the judge (together with a jury) takes into consideration the following:
- The extent of the injury or injuries sustained by the victim
- The definitiveness of future pain and suffering
- Is the pain chronic and lifelong?
What’s included when pursuing economic recovery related damages?
After an accident from which the injuries sustained leaves a victim in the hospital for days or weeks, medical expenses will add up quickly, and are not always fully covered by an insurance policy in the event of a catastrophic accident.
Before a verdict is rendered and a judge can determine the amount of damages to be awarded, he or she will look at the financial distress the victim was placed under post-accident, the cost of care (long or short-term) after hospital discharge, outpatient care such as follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy and rehabilitation, cost of medication, any ambulance fees incurred, emergency room fees, and other miscellaneous expenses incurred as a direct result of the accident for which it has been determined the victim was not at-fault.
How are mental trauma and economic recovery related?
The court always takes the mental trauma (PTSD–post-traumatic stress disorder) into consideration when calculating damages to be awarded. Mental anguish or trauma can include any terror, fear, nightmares, flashbacks or worry, feelings of lost dignity, isolation, and grief the victim may be feeling about the accident at any given time. If these feelings are determined to be consistent, permanent, and a cause of further suffering to the victim, damages may be awarded to compensate them for this anguish.
What’s considered lost quality of life?
Loss of quality of life isn’t limited to hobbies the victim once enjoyed and can no longer pursue (although this can certainly cause feelings of isolation and take away their quality of life!) it also includes Activities of Daily Living (known as ADLs) that the victim can no longer d without assistance. Activities of Daily Living are simple tasks that able-bodied individuals often don’t even think about doing. After a catastrophic accident that involves brain or spinal cord injuries, the victim may no longer be able to feed themselves, bathe unassisted, or get around their own home without the help of a home health aide. If this is determined to be the case, their quality of life has been nearly eliminated and they may find themselves bed-bound, isolated and alone.
A judge and jury will once again consider the factors as they pertain to the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as the expense a family incurs in an effort to seek treatment on behalf of their loved one.
What does a judge consider when determining damages?
After sustaining injuries due to accident or trauma in which the victim can no longer work or provide for a family as they once did, compensation that takes lost wages and the potential for future earnings into consideration will also be determined. If the case goes to trial, a judge must have certain factors on hand to make his or her determination. The plaintiff and their lawyer hold the “burden of proof” and must prove that their ability to earn future income has been seriously diminished or at the least, drastically impaired by their injuries. The court will take the following very specific factors into consideration.
These factors can include but are not limited to:
- A plaintiff’s age
- Life expectancy of a plaintiff (had they not become injured as well as following the accident that caused the injury)
- Occupation, any special talents the victim had that earned them income, skills the victim had that they can no longer utilize and as such will cause them to lose money
- The plaintiff’s job experience and their specific training in the job they performed prior to sustaining the injury
How does economic recovery improve quality of life?
As we previously expanded upon, victims often need help around the home or with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) after they are discharged from the hospital post-accident. After an injury such as a TBI or SCI, it’s difficult for victims to get back on their feet right away, if at all in the event of severe trauma. With TBI specific injuries, a victim may be experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, tremors in their hands, frequent and debilitating migraine headaches as well as a number of other symptoms they never experienced prior to the injury.
All of these factors are taken into consideration when presented by an experienced lawyer in front of the judge and jury.