The amount of an award to a plaintiff in a personal injury case does not follow a specific formula, but the judge or jury will evaluate the claim in several areas of potential damages. The goal in any damage award is to compensate the victim for various types of economic or non-economic harm. Additional types of damage awards may be designed to punish the one at fault for extreme cases of negligence.
All of the following types of harm can be included in the value of a damage award, depending on the facts of the case and extent of injuries suffered.
1. The Actual Cost of Medical Care
Any actual medical costs incurred by the victim from hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation or home care can all be compensated. Those medical bills can be introduced to prove the costs incurred. Future medical costs can be included in this category if they can be estimated with accuracy, and recovery is ongoing.
2. Loss of Wages or Income
An injury can often prevent the victim from working for a period of time, and any wages lost or projected into the future can be included in the award. For employees this is easy to calculate. Those who are self-employed will have to establish their real income and potential earnings to realize this type of compensation.
3. Damage to Personal Property
If you have lost personal property from an accident, such as a vehicle or other belongings, the verified replacement cost can be included in the award as well.
4. Pain and Suffering
This type of harm is less specific, and the award will be derived from the extent and seriousness of your injuries. If there is ongoing pain and loss of bodily functions then this kind of harm can be compensated, even though there is no specific dollar amount calculated for all cases.
5. Emotional Distress
The trauma and impact of an accident or injury may be more than physical, and the law allows for victims to be compensated for this kind of emotional or psychological distress. As with pain and suffering , the amount of award is more subjective and open to interpretation.
6. Punitive Damages
In some cases, such as with product liability awards, the degree of recklessness by the party at fault is so extreme that an award will be designed to punish their behavior. The calculation of punitive damages will depend on the degree of fault, the actual injuries sustained as well as similar awards in other cases. In some cases these awards may be millions of dollars if the victim’s life has been permanently affected.
Calculating a damage award requires the knowledge of a Boise personal injury attorney who is experienced in personal injury and has seen many cases. While there is no guarantee of an excessive award, most types of economic harm will be easily ascertained and awarded to an innocent victim. Damage awards can be reduced to the extent the victim may have contributed to the injury or accident, and an attorney can be helpful in assessing this factor.