When you are injured as a direct result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. However, before you file that personal injury case, it’s important to know the types of damages you can recover as part of your case.
There are two major categories of damages that you can recover in a personal injury case:
Economic Damages. These are the most common types of damages that get recovered in a personal injury case. This category of damages covers compensation for things such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Since many medical bills or wage losses occur well after the personal injury case begins, economic damages can often include losses that are “reasonably certain” to occur in the future.
Non-Economic Damages. This category of damages covers many different intangible damages that you may suffer after an injury—such as pain and suffering, distress, psychological trauma caused by loss, and other factors not directly reflected in a medical bill or property loss report. It is often very difficult to prove non-economic damages or to measure the dollar value of these damages.
In some rarer cases, a third category of damages called punitive damagescan be applied to a personal injury case. Punitive damages are only applied in cases where the defendant demonstrates a willful and reckless disregard by their actions, and most of the money in a punitive damage case goes to the state, not the victim.
As the name implies, punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant monetarily.
How Claim Types Affect Your Personal Injury Case
There are many factors that can affect your personal injury case. Where you were injured, the severity of the injury, circumstances of the injury, how quickly you file your case, and the degree to which you are deemed responsible for your own injury are just a few of the factors that can influence your case.
The type of claim or claims you file can have a significant impact on your case.
Generally speaking, economic damage claims are easier to prove and have a more predictable dollar amount—largely because they’re fixed at a portion of the provable damages you incurred as a result of your injury.
Non-economic damages can be much less predictable—assuming you win them at all. Emotional/psychological trauma is much harder to prove and put a dollar value on. You may or may not be able to receive non-economic damages based on trauma related to your injuries.
Punitive damages are much less common than the other claim types, so they’re not often considered. Also, the majority of a punitive damage claim goes to the state, not the injured party.
When you’re considering filing a personal injury case, be sure to consult with a personal injury attorney at some point. While using an attorney doesn’t guarantee success, that attorney can help you assess your case, organize evidence, and present your case before a judge or jury.