In personal injury cases, it’s important to know your legal rights and what you can reasonably claim damages for. This not only helps your overall understanding of the legal process, but also increases your chances to recover compensation at the rate you deserve. You may be asking yourself, what exactly is a personal injury case? What is the full list of things you can sue for in such a case? Our team at Lipton Law can answer all the questions you have about your personal injury claim.
At Lipton Law, we have the experienced attorneys you need to help you seek compensation. Call us today at (248) 557-1688 to schedule your free consultation.
What Is a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases are legal disputes that happen when one person suffers harm or injuries from an accident, and someone else is legally responsible for that harm. In order to have a successful claim as the injured party, you must be able to prove negligence on the part of the other party.
Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury is a very broad field of law that includes several types of injuries. However, there are a few types of personal injury cases that are particularly common in the United States. Some examples of the most common personal injury claims that can be pursued are:
- Michigan car accidents
- Medical malpractice lawsuit
- Product liability lawsuit
- Wrongful death lawsuit
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability lawsuit
- Dog bite lawsuit
- Catastrophic injuries
- Breach of contract cases
What Damages Can I Sue for in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The damages caused by an accident or other case may vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. The value of those damages from the accident also depends on multiple factors. Understanding the damages available in a personal injury case is useful when negotiating a settlement agreement for your personal injury claim.
The damages for an accident claim generally fall into one of two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Juries generally only award punitive damages if the behavior of the responsible party was particularly egregious. In other words, you’re unlikely to see punitive damages being awarded in small claims court and in most other personal injury claims. You may see these damages if the responsible party exhibited a reckless disregard for human life.
Economic Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
Economic damages are easily calculated and quantified. They are the financial losses that you incur because of an accident. Examples of economic damages include the following.
Medical bills can build quickly, especially if your medical issues and injuries will require extensive treatment. When documenting your injuries, we recommend including all expenses from the time of the accident, including your initial doctor’s visit or ambulance ride. The most common medical expenses that plaintiffs claim in a personal injury lawsuit include the following.
- Hospital bills
- Surgical costs
- Ambulance fees
- Lab testing fees
- Physical therapy costs
- Primary care doctor fees
- Pain management costs
- Cost of prescription medication and other regular treatments
Permanent Injuries and Disability
A permanent injury is a type of damage that results in chronic pain, disfigurement, or the ability to carry out day-to-day activities after a personal injury accident. It’s typically pretty simple to prove damages related to a permanent injury if you can prove elements of your life, whether they are physical, emotional, financial, or social, and had a permanent impact as a result of your incident.
A loss of income refers to wages or benefits that were lost due to the injury. In most personal injury claims, a victim can recover lost income from his or her injuries in monetary damages. Income does not need to be lost all at once to make a claim for loss of income. If you will be out of work during the course of your case and a small amount afterwards, you can still collect for lost income in the future also.
Loss of Earning Capacity
A loss of earning capacity refers to a decrease in the person’s ability to earn an income. This is often referred to as an impairment of earning power. In order to qualify for a loss of earning capacity, there is a complex calculation that must be performed to arrive at a settlement value. A few things that will be considered include:
- Reviewing your work profile and earning history
- Reviewing your talents, skills, education, and abilities
- Hiring a medical expert to determine the extent of the injury
- Using current market values and wage rates to determine how much the plaintiff would earn today, as well as in the future.
Property damage is damage to real or personal property through another’s negligence. This may include harm to a vehicle, fence, tree, home, or any other piece of property. The amount one can recover for property damage can be calculated by evidence of the object’s replacement value, repair costs, or loss of use until repaired or replaced.
How Are Economic Damages Proven?
Generally speaking, economic damages may be proven using such evidence as follows:
- Receipts and other records of payments
- Medical records that show the extent of an injury and the care that was required to treat it
- Estimates for the car repair to show the extent of the damage
- Invoices, especially for mechanic’s and automobile body shop repairs, etc.
- Insurance records showing billing for medical treatment
- The testimony of experts as to the fair market value of property lost and other issues
In addition to documents, the testimony of people who have personal knowledge of facts at issue in the case is often used in a personal injury trial. For example, a doctor who treated the victim may be called to testify about the extent of a person’s injury.
Non-Economic Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
Non-economic damages represent the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident and your injuries. These types of damages cannot be easily quantified or calculated. Many attorneys use special formulas to calculate their client’s non-economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages include:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to both the physical and emotional damages that a victim suffers after an accident. If you experience a great deal of pain or emotional distress following your accident, this may qualify as damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury case. For example, if you suffer from anxiety and depression after the accident, you may be able to claim compensation for this. If you’re unsure of how to prove pain and suffering, an attorney can be a great help in this area.
How Much Can I Recover for Pain and Suffering?
Every personal injury case is different, therefore the calculations for pain and suffering will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. There is no clear pain and suffering calculator, either for a judge and jury or for an insurance company. Typically, pain and suffering damages are based on a percentage of your special damages. This is usually between 1.5 and 5 times the special damages from your claim. However, the law does not provide guidelines concerning how to calculate those pain and suffering settlement amounts. There are several elements that come into play when determining the amount awarded for pain and suffering.
Emotional distress, in personal injury law, is an umbrella term for non-physical, emotional trauma or pain that results from someone’s accident or injury. It is highly subjective in nature, and therefore can differ greatly from person to person. One’s emotional distress claim may be very general or very specific.
How Much Can I Recover for Emotional Distress?
The compensation for emotional distress varies depending on the situation and the specific circumstances of the case. Some factors that affect your compensation are as follows; evidence, severity of injuries, and your personal injury attorney.
Loss of Consortium
A type of pain and suffering experienced by family members following the death of their loved one. Due to a family’s grief and mental anguish following a preventable accident, they may receive special awards for the pain and suffering felt by the remaining family members grieving their loved one.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life describes the ways in which a serious injury impacts someone’s quality of life. In other words, the victim gets less enjoyment out of the things they did before the accident occurred. These damages are not as easy to explain as economic damages, which include easily calculable losses such as medical bills and lost income. However, calculating your loss of enjoyment is imperative in order to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after a serious accident.
How Are Non-Economic Damages Proven?
Non-economic damages do not leave a paper trail. They are invisible or intangible ways in which the victim was affected by the accident. Rather than receipts and financial documentation, a victim may need to provide evidence such as an injury journal, testimony from friends and family members, and mental health diagnoses to prove non-economic damages.
How Is the Value of a Personal Injury Case Calculated?
There is no set dollar amount that you can receive in your case. In determining an amount for compensatory damages, you must provide proof that their injury resulted in any of the above mentioned damages, therefore negatively impacting your livelihood. Medical expenses, legal fees, and loss of income are calculated to determine the amount of money you’ve lost after your incident occurred. Our legal team may then multiply this amount by a number we believe to represent the level of physical, emotional, or financial distress you experienced as a result of your personal injury.
Contact a Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer at Lipton Law
As you can see, there are a variety of damages that an injured person can claim in a personal injury case. To ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, make sure you demand compensation for all of your economic and non-economic damages. Call us today at (248) 557-1688 to schedule your free consultation and ask our experienced Michigan personal injury attorneys any questions you may have.