Now that you have made the important decision to hire a lawyer to investigate your accident and resulting injuries, the question then becomes – what’s next? After retaining a qualified personal injury lawyer, an investigation will begin as to the legal cause of your accident, i.e. – negligence, as well as the damages available to you—financial compensation—under the law.
What are Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?
One of the goals of filing a civil lawsuit, such as those for personal injury damages, are to make the plaintiff “whole” after her injury. That is, the plaintiff will seek the necessary compensation to place her in the same or similar financial situation had the accident never occurred. While calculating this number can be difficult, there are some general categories of damages available to plaintiffs.
Types of Personal Injury Damages
The first, and probably most obvious category of damages available is compensation for medical bills and treatments resulting from the accident. Often, after an accident, whether it be from a trucking accident or a defective product, medical treatment is necessary. These treatments can range from physical therapy or chiropractic care to long-term hospitalizations and expensive surgeries. In the most catastrophic cases, a person can become disabled and require long-term medical and nursing care. Texas law allows personal injury plaintiffs to recover past and future medical care, meaning compensation for the bills already incurred, as well as compensation for the cost of your long-term medical care in the future.
In addition to compensation for past and future medical bills, a person injured as a result of another’s negligence can also receive compensation for lost wages. Lost wages is compensation that a plaintiff lost as a result of having to miss work as a result of the injury, as well as having to miss work to seek treatment for one’s injuries. If, however, after your accident you are unable to return to work at all, a personal injury plaintiff can make a claim for their lost wages in the future for the money they would have reasonably earned if it were not for the accident.
Lastly, in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff can make a claim for any and all property damage sustained as a result of the accident. In the instance of an 18-wheeler accident, for example, the property damage would include the replacement value of your vehicle and any other property damaged during the accident.
Texas law also allows for a plaintiff to recover non-economic damages in addition to their economic damages. Non-economic damages are a bit more difficult to articulate to a jury. These damages include pain, suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress. Simply put, these damages are those which cannot readily be assigned a dollar value, but which have had a significant impact on your life.
Who decides how much compensation I receive?
Your total amount of compensation, at the end of your case, will be determined by a jury. Your attorney will present competent legal evidence as to your past and future economic damages, as well as your past and future non-economic damages. Often, these amounts will be presented to the jury through expert testimony. If your case is scheduled for mediation prior to trial however, you are able to control the process a bit more. This non-binding process involves negotiating directly with the defendant in an attempt to seek a resolution of the dispute prior to the jury trial.
The total amount of damages available to a plaintiff is different for every case. Please do not attempt to determine if you have a compensable case. You must consult a relevant liability attorney who has the expertise and extensive knowledge necessary to determine who ultimately caused the harm and injuries you or a loved one suffered. Contact us for a free case evaluation here.