If you are at this step, then you have already hired a skilled personal injury attorney, liability has been resolved and attributed to the defendant, and you have finished treatment for your injuries. The basic purpose of judicial remedies is to place a party who has been wronged, as nearly as possible, in the position that party would have been in if no wrong had occurred. However, there are exceptions discussed below to get beyond mere compensation.
These damages are broken down into three traditional categories. Those are medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced due to the accident. This is the largest and perhaps most general category. Additionally, the tortfeasor is responsible for any damages that were foreseeable as a result of their negligence. This is a term of art, and it will take a competent attorney to assist you with this.
- It is only fair and unsurprising that a tortfeasor should have to pay for your hospital bills if they caused your injury. Why should you have to foot the bill for injuries that you did not cause? Medical bills can cost thousands of dollars and you may not be able to pay for these on your own. And even if you are, it is certainly burdensome. Notably, the medical expenses must be related to the injury caused by the tortfeasor. In the legal sphere, this is called “causation”.
- Additionally, you may have missed time from work. You have bills to pay and may not be able to afford to miss time. And why should you if it is not your fault you were injured? The law does afford you the right to obtain compensation for lost wages so long as the time off was excused by a doctor. Moreover, if you are no longer able to work the same job as before due to your injury, and you have to settle for a job that does not pay as well, the law protects you here as well. A common scenario where this may apply is in a job requiring manual labor of some kind.
Pain and Suffering
- The third, broader category, is pain and suffering. This is a noneconomic damage. The extent or severity of the harm need not have been foreseen. This is known as the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. As this category can be infinitely broad, the underlying significance of this category is that you may be able to recover for pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma related to an injury. Another traditional aspect of this is the loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life.
The exception here is if the harmful conduct is intentional, malicious, outrageous, or otherwise aggravated beyond mere negligence. In such a case, the court may award punitive damages. The purpose of this category of damages is to punish and deter. Unlike the other category which compensates, this is a rarer instance where civil law punishes a tortfeasor. This is a higher bar and requires a skilled attorney to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence.
An example where punitive damages may be applicable is in a nursing home abuse case. This is because there is likely malice because the worker knows what he or she is doing. There are aspects to damages that, of course, are too complicated to be explained in a more general article such as this. This article is meant to educate and is not to be relied on without proper guidance from an experienced attorney. Each of these categories of damages is not guaranteed and each will depend on your individual case. Further, proving these damages is more complicated than understanding it, which is why it is important to call for a free case consultation to better understand your rights against the person who caused your injury.