As trusted personal injury attorneys serving New York, we specialize in advocating for the rights of injury victims. If you suffered injuries and other losses in an accident caused by someone else, you deserve compensation. Schedule a free consultation online to learn more.
A person’s behavior doesn’t have to be criminal in order to hurt somebody else. In fact, some of the most devastating injuries aren’t caused by maliciousness, but by a lack of care. In the world of personal injury law, there’s a name for this type of recklessness: It’s called negligence.
Victims of negligent actions can suffer a wide range of injuries and losses, from bodily harm to financial devastation to poor quality of life. Despite sustaining considerable losses, many injury victims assume they’re ineligible to pursue compensation; after all, the person who hurt them didn’t do so intentionally. Luckily, that’s not true.
If you suffer serious harm because someone else couldn’t be bothered to act with reasonable care, you have the right to pursue compensation from them. As personal injury attorneys, it’s our job to ensure you have the necessary tools, resources and guidance to secure the compensation for all of your damages.
Unsure about what you’re owed? Don’t worry—this article will explain everything you need to know about damages, including what constitutes damages, types of damages and how a personal injury attorney can help you recoup your losses after a serious accident.
Are you struggling to recover after a devastating accident? It’s important to understand that you have options, and the legal experts at Jacoby & Jacoby can help you find them. Call our law office at (888) 452-2629 to schedule a free case evaluation.
What Are Damages in Personal Injury Claims?
In everyday conversation, we use “damages” to refer to harm. However, it means something slightly different in legal terms.
When we talk about damages in a personal injury case, we’re referring to compensation given to the injured person by the person or company who are liable for their accident. Damages may also be paid by the person or company’s insurance provider.
Typically, damages are awarded during a negotiation between parties, their insurance companies and attorneys. When a settlement can’t be reached outside of court and a case goes to trial, damages are awarded by a judge or jury.
Most damages awarded in personal injury cases are compensatory, meaning they are intended to compensate the injury victim for their losses. Rather than applying strictly to financial losses, compensatory damages can cover a range of non-economic losses as well.
The goal of a compensatory damage award is to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again—at least to the extent that it’s possible. It requires assigning a dollar amount to all the consequences of an accident, and while some are easy to quantify, others aren’t so easy to assess.
Compensatory damages are typically divided into two categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages are easier to quantify and generally include economic losses like the following:
- Medical treatment. Medical damages include the cost of accident-related treatment the injury victim has already received, as well as compensation for the estimated cost of future accident-related treatment.
- Lost income. If an accident impacts an injury victim’s ability to work, they may be entitled to damages for lost income. This includes missed wages from when they were recovering, as well as money they could have made in the future, if not for the accident. Damages based on future income is called “loss of earning capacity.”
- Property loss. If an injury victim’s property, including vehicles, clothing and other items, are damaged in the accident, they may be entitled to reimbursement. Damages for property loss can include compensation for repairs or the fair market value of lost property.
Not every accident-related loss is tangible or easily calculated in a dollar amount. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t warrant compensation. Compensation for non-economic losses is often referred to as general damages and includes the following:
- Pain and suffering. Injury victims may be entitled to compensation for pain, suffering and serious discomfort related to the accident.
- Emotional distress. Emotional distress damages exist to compensate injury victims for the psychological consequences of a serious accident, including fear, anxiety, PTSD and sleep loss. Although some states include emotional distress in the category of pain and suffering, New York considers it a separate damage.
- Loss of enjoyment. Some accident-related injuries prevent victims from enjoying the day-to-day activities they once did. This may include hobbies, exercise and other types of recreational activities. These damages serve to compensate injury victims for those losses.
- Loss of consortium. This type of damage refers to the impact of a plaintiff’s injuries on their spousal relationship. It awards compensation for an injury victim’s inability to maintain certain aspects of their relationship, such as their inability to resume a sexual relationship, for example.
The above-mentioned damages are far from a comprehensive list; rather, they represent some of the most commonly awarded general damages to injury victims.
In rare cases, a court may award punitive damages to the plaintiff. Unlike compensatory damages that are meant to compensate the injury victim for accident-related losses, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for particularly egregious and reckless behavior. In addition to punishing the defendant, they are meant to discourage similar behaviors in the future.
Jacoby & Jacoby: Top Personal Injury Lawyers in New York
At Jacoby & Jacoby we understand that navigating the legal system, its terminology and processes without a guide is challenging. That’s why we provide top-tier legal advocacy for injury victims of all kinds.
If you’re suffering under the weight of accident-related consequences, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact Jacoby & Jacoby online or call our law office at (888) 452-2629 to explore your legal options with a professional today.