“What is my case worth” is one of the most common questions. The true answer is relatively easy; your case is worth whatever a jury decides it is worth. However, clients want more than pithy lawyer sayings. At a basic level, the value of a case (or “damages”) is case dependent. This guide is intended to give a basic understanding of the different types or aspects of damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Not all damages are the same
There are mainly three different types of damages available in a personal injury case; 1) economic damages; 2) non-economic damages; and 3) punitive damages. The following is a breakdown and explanation of these three types of damages.
Economic damages are a type of compensatory damage that is intended to reimburse Plaintiffs for actual economic losses sustained as a result of an accident. These include lost wages, medical provider costs and prescription medication costs. Damages for economic losses can be recovered for losses that have already taken place and losses that are reasonable likely to be incurred in the future. Usually, future costs are proven through expert testimony. Economic damages are also described as “out of pocket expenses” that have caused the Plaintiff an actual economic loss.
Non-economic damages are more ethereal in nature and more difficult to describe and prove. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life and loss of comfort and support. This is a non-exhaustive list, but it gives a brief example of non-economic damages. Non-economic damages can also be recovered for past and future losses. Usually, non-economic losses are proven through the testimony of the Plaintiff and her/his friends and family.
Punitive damages are damages meant to punish a defendant. They are awarded to a Plaintiff, but they are not meant to compensate the Plaintiff. Punitive damages are not available in most cases. A more detailed explanation of punitive damages can be found here.
Each case is unique and has a unique value and set of damages. If you believe that you have been injured and suffered damages as a result, please contact us.