Personal Injury West Palm Beach, Florida
Personal injuries can have long term economic, psychological and physical consequences. The American Bar Association list injuries sustained in automobile accidents as the most common example of a personal injury claim, however, injuries stemming from other negligent behavior such as medical malpractice also form the basis of personal injury claims. Litigation entails proving the negligence or wrongdoing of another person or organization that caused injuries, economic or non-economic damage to a person’s property, reputation or rights. The complexities of these cases mean personal injury attorneys need to have a high level of experience and knowledge in the area of “tort law” to achieve the best results for their clients.
What Happens in a Personal Injury Case?
In successful personal injury claims, the plaintiff or injured person receives monetary compensation from the person or company (defendant) found to be legally responsible for the accident. Damage awards can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement by the attorney, between the parties, their insurance companiesor be ordered by a judge or jury following a court trial.
Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Damages in a personal injury case is typically classified as “compensatory,” because they are designed to pay or compensate the injured party for loss of income and pain and suffering due to the accident or injury. Compensatory Damage Awards help to pay for lost wages, treatment and medical bills that can restore normalcy to the individual’s life as it was prior to the accident to the extent possible from a fiscal standpoint. As such, this requires putting a dollar figure based on the severity of the injuries and the potential long-term consequences resulting from the accident.
Although some compensatory damages are fairly easy to quantify, in cases where injuries cause life changing disabilities that requires long term care or a death that causes economic hardship to a family the legal team must create reasonable projections of financial need.
Types of Compensatory damages in personal injury cases include:
- Income reimbursement. In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff initially loses time from work while recovering. As such, they are usually entitled to compensation for the accident’s impact on current and future wages. Damage awards based on loss of future income is referred to as “loss of earning capacity” for the accident victim.
- Medical Expenses. Successful outcomes of personal injury claims mean plaintiffs are awarded the cost of medical care associated with treatment already received as well as the estimated cost of medical care that may be required in the future.
- Property loss. In most motor vehicle accidents where severe damage prevents the use of the vehicle or those in which other property loss occurs, plaintiffs can expect to be reimbursed for repairs or fair market value of the property that was lost.
- Pain and suffering. Where there is serious injury that result in an initial period of suffering or extended chronic pain and discomfort; compensation for pain and suffering may be awarded if it directly relates to the accident.
- Emotional distress.The psychological impact of an accident can cause emotional distress and disruptions to an individual after an accident. Emotional distress damages are meant to compensate a personal injury plaintiff for destabilization of their emotional well-being through worry, fear, anxiety and disruptions in their regular sleep patterns to name a few. In most personal injury cases, emotional distress is usually considered and directly linked to compensation for “pain and suffering” damages that are awarded.
- Lifestyle changes. Injuries that severely impact the normal lifestyle of an individual to engage in day to day recreational activities, hobbies or that restrains their mobility are considered “loss of enjoyment” damages that accident victims may be entitled to.
- Loss of consortium refers to the impact injuries have on the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse or significant other such as the loss of companionship or ability to maintain a normal sexual relationship. In some states, the impact on the relationship that a parent has with their children are also considered as grounds for loss of consortium damages.
- Punitive Damages may be awarded if it is determined that the defendant’s conduct was extremely egregious or shockingly careless. Punitive damages can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. The goal of punitive damage awards is to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct that resulted in harm to another person. Because punitive damage can be in the millions in some cases, most states have set a cap on punitive damage awards in personal injury cases.
It should also be recognized that in personal injury cases, the action of the plaintiff or injured person may influence the amount of compensation received. This relates to comparative and contributory negligence. Comparative negligence refers to the plaintiff’s role (even partially) in the accident that caused their injuries. Contributory negligence may prevent you from recovering some or all compensation if it can be proven that you are partially to be blamed for the accident. This concept, however, is only recognized by a handful of states for personal injury lawsuits.
The law expects plaintiffs in personal injury cases to seek reasonable compensation in order to mitigate the impact of injuries caused by the accident. Failure to get appropriate medical treatment after an accident that result in worsening of injuries may result in significantly reduced compensation.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to unsafe the negligence of another, you may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. Contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath at For Your Rights at (561) 655-1990 for a free consultation. We can match you with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you seek compensation for your injuries.