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Types of Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases

You may not realize how many different types of damages you can claim in a personal injury lawsuit. If you don’t seek recovery for each type of damage, you won’t be able to receive all of the compensation you’re entitled to.

Talk to your personal injury lawyer about each of the following types of damages. Make sure you aren’t missing any relevant expenses or losses in your demand letter or court complaint.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are purely financial. They represent your financial losses after an accident. They are easy to calculate and prove using invoices, receipts, or fairly simple estimates of your wages or future earning capacity.

You may be able to request compensation for each of the following types of economic damages.

Medical Bills

Medical bills are a primary concern after a car accident or any other type of personal injury case. Medical costs can include many different kinds of expenses, such as:

  • Visits to the doctor
  • Cost of ambulance or emergency medical services
  • Surgeries or operations
  • Extended stays at the hospital
  • Physical therapy appointments
  • Medications
  • Home health care expenses

If you have a continuing disability from your injuries, be sure to also consider the costs of ongoing treatment for the duration of your disability.

Lost Wages

You might have missed a lot of time at work after your accident. Hospital visits or injuries may have prevented you from working.

Track every hour of work you miss. You may need a letter from your employer to support your claims, along with proof of your current rate of pay.

Loss of Earning Capacity

Serious injuries can change your entire career trajectory. You may not be able to return to the job you’ve spent years training for, which can impact your future ability to make a living.

If you can’t work at all, you may need to request compensation for the loss of earning capacity for the rest of your career. If you need to change your profession, you may still have a significant loss of earning capacity.

For example, suppose a highly-paid electrician suffers a serious back injury and can no longer perform the job duties he was trained for. He may be able to work a sedentary job, but he will still experience a loss of future earning capacity because he now receives a lower pay rate.

Property Damage

You can claim damages for any property that was damaged due to another person’s negligence. This could include the cost of your vehicle or motorcycle, as well as any other personal property that was damaged.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

You may need to incur additional expenses related to your injuries that you must pay for out-of-pocket. This could include any of the following types of expenses:

  • Childcare
  • Housekeeping services
  • Transportation to doctor’s appointments
  • Costs of wheelchairs or other medical equipment not covered by insurance

These expenses must be both reasonable and necessary. They must also be related to your injuries or treatment of your injuries. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for the physical, mental, and emotional toll you’ve paid for your injuries. These damages are non-financial and therefore harder to calculate. A variety of formulas may be used.

The following damages are the most common types of non-economic damages that are claimed in personal injury cases.

Pain and Suffering

Being in pain has a dramatic negative impact on your quality of life. Damages for pain and suffering compensate you for having to go through this experience.

The amount of pain and suffering damages you can recover will depend on the severity and duration of your injuries. For severe injuries that result in permanent disabilities, the damages for pain and suffering may be higher than your economic damages.

Mental and Emotional Distress

Some people experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental issues after a severe accident. This may be caused by either the circumstances of the accident itself or the mental stress of dealing with serious physical injuries.

You’ll need to substantiate your claim for these damages. This can be done with a psychiatric diagnosis of PTSD or other mental health problems and other medical records showing your symptoms.

Loss of Enjoyment or Loss of Use

Loss of enjoyment damages relate to activities or experiences that have been taken from you due to your injuries. For example, serious injuries may prevent you from horseback riding, golfing, or participating in many other recreational activities that give you pleasure. These damages will depend on your specific injuries and what particular activities you can no longer perform.

Loss of use damages may compensate for the loss of use of a limb or other body part. These damages can depend on what body part is injured and whether it has partially or totally lost its functionality.

Loss of Consortium or Companionship

Loss of consortium or companionship damages may apply if you’ve lost a loved one in an accident. You may also claim these damages if your spouse has been so severely injured that it’s changed the nature of your relationship.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not commonly awarded in personal injury lawsuits. These damages punish a defendant rather the compensate an injury victim.

Negligent behavior alone won’t support a claim for these damages. Instead, Florida law requires a finding of intentional misconduct or gross negligence in order for punitive damages to be awarded.

How to Request Compensation for Damages

You will generally need to send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company to request compensation for your damages. You will list out each damage and the amount you are requesting for each category.

If you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll include your claim for damages in your legal complaint. 

How to Calculate Each Category of Damages

Economic damages are based on the amounts you paid for expenses or the amounts lost due to missed time at work. Non-economic damages may be calculated using formulas based on the severity of your injuries.

For example, the multiplier method multiplies your economic damages by a number of 1 to 5 to get the amount of damages for pain suffering. If you have economic damages of $100,000 and a multiplier of 3, you would receive $300,000 of pain and suffering damages.

Each category of non-economic damages will vary from case to case. Ask your personal injury lawyer for an explanation of how these damages may be determined in your specific situation.

If you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, your recovery may be reduced based on your fault percentage. However, you can still seek compensation as long as the other party was also at fault under Florida’s comparative fault law.

Because there are some categories of damages, you may miss some if you try to deal with the insurance company on your own. Contact a personal injury lawyer for help understanding the full value of your damages.