One of the most frequently asked questions we are asked when someone is considering pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is “How much is my case worth?”. This is also one of the most difficult questions to answer immediately.
What Are Damages?
“Damages” is the phrase used to describe the amount you have lost due to an accident – while the compensation awarded may be monetary, damages can include money lost as well as the physical and mental harm experienced.
So when someone says they have been awarded “damages” it means they have received compensation for their losses.
What Factors Are Taken Into Consideration?
The purpose of awarding damages to a plaintiff is to “make them whole”. While permanent damage may have been done, the hope is that an appropriate monetary sum will help to make their lives more manageable.
Common losses that are claimed in personal injury lawsuits include;
- The Cost Of Medical Treatments: The cost of medical care in the United States is not cheap – even for those who have insurance. For example, if a contractor incorrectly installs a ceiling fan, the fan falls and strikes someone in the head and causes a traumatic brain injury, the expected medical treatments for that condition are anywhere from $80,000 to $3,000,000. That’s much more than the average American can afford.
- Lost Income: If the injured worker is unable to return to work and as a result losses income or even vacation days as a result, compensation may be available.
- Physical Trauma: As much as doctors would like it to be otherwise, not every injury is 100% curable. Sometimes the damage stays below the surface and causes lifelong pain. For others, the damage is a visible reminder due to scarring or an amputation.
- Emotional Distress: Sometimes accidents leave emotional scarring. In fact, nearly 20% of the U.S. is diagnosed with PTSD during their lifetime from a traumatic experience.
- Loss Of Enjoyment: If the physical injuries that were sustained keep the victim from doing activities that they previously enjoyed on a regular basis, damages may be awarded.
Punitive damages are typically given in cases where the judge and/or jury believes that the defendant willfully ignored a situation that they knew was dangerous or if they were extraordinarily careless.
Punitive damages also serve as a warning to other individuals who may find themselves in a similar situation – in other words, do the right thing or you will be punished.
It is always important to keep in mind that the plaintiff’s actions can impact the damages that are awarded.
Pennsylvania law allows a plaintiff to pursue a complaint even if they were partially at fault unless they were 51% or more responsible for the accident. However, it is likely that any award that is given will be reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff is found at fault.
When you have been involved in any kind of accident, it is expected that you will do everything in your power to minimize the financial impact that may come from the harm caused. For example, if you cut yourself but don’t wash out the wound or seek medical attention and the wound becomes infected, requiring hospitalization and surgery, it can be argued that you failed to mitigate damages.
So What Does All Of This Boil Down To?
Basically, until one of our attorneys reviews your case, we can’t give an appropriate estimate of how much you may be able to recover. To learn more about what your case might be worth, contact us today.