If you’ve been injured in an accident because of someone else’s negligence, you’re likely wondering how much compensation you may be able to recover through a personal injury claim. The first thing you should know is that the amount you could receive in compensation is completely dependent on your unique situation.
If you look at our results, you will see verdicts and settlements ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. There are a number of reasons these results vary so widely, but one of the most important differences from case to case is the extent and seriousness of the damages.
“Damages” is a broad term that encompasses everything from medical bills to pain and suffering. Understanding these damages is where we begin when calculating how much a specific personal injury claim is worth. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to economic, non-economic, and, potentially, punitive damages.
Economic damages are fairly straightforward. They are losses that cost accident victims a specific amount of money. That said, the compensation you are due isn’t always as simple as paying for a medical or property damage bill.
If you’ve ever been taken to the hospital by ambulance, had surgery, or received any specialized medical treatment, you know just how expensive it can be. In some cases it is necessary to not only pursue compensation for past medical expenses but future medical expenses as well.
When calculating your medical expenses, it’s important not only to look at your immediate expenses, but also to consider any long-term expenses you might face, including therapy, rehabilitation, and more.
Serious accidents generally lead to time missed from work. For many workers, this means a direct loss of income.
Fortunately, accident victims can be compensated for lost wages through a personal injury claim.
Lost Earning Capacity
For some victims of serious injury, the impact on their job or career is not just a short-term loss of income. If your injuries are severe enough, your ability to make more money throughout your career could be affected. You may even need to change careers.
For example, if you work in the construction industry and rely on your physical abilities to do your job, a debilitating physical injury could mean you have to change careers and make less money.
Your personal injury lawyer will calculate not only your immediate lost income but the wages you would have stood to earn in the future. This often involves conferring with your doctors and vocational experts to determine the impact of your injuries on the ability to do your job.
There may be other expenses related to the accident you need to consider. Examples include a handicap-accessible vehicle, new bed, or more basic needs such as mileage and travel expenses.
Your attorney can argue that these expenses should be covered by the negligent party.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages do not directly relate to financial loss. As a result, they can be more difficult to calculate.
Nevertheless, non-economic damages are legitimate losses. It is crucial for you and your attorney to consider the full extent of your losses – financial and otherwise – when calculating your total damages.
Pain and Suffering
While serious injuries are often expensive to treat, the financial impact and ramifications are only one part of the story. The other part is the pain and suffering accident victims experience as a result of the injuries.
Serious injuries often result in chronic pain. They can also impact your emotional well-being. You deserve to be compensated for the pain and suffering you have to endure.
Beyond long-term physical pain, accident victims can also experience long-lasting emotional distress. After a serious accident, it is not uncommon for victims to suffer anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dealing with any form of mental distress can be extremely difficult. As with physical pain and suffering, you deserve compensation for the impact on your mental health.
Loss of Consortium
In the strictest sense, loss of consortium refers to the impact of a serious injury on the victim’s relationship with a significant other. The accident may lead to long-term, challenging ramifications for a relationship, including loss of physical intimacy and spousal services. In a broader sense, loss of consortium refers to the loss of society and companionship with family members generally. If you have children, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of parental guidance (changes in the ability to parent your child or children) as well.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life can take on many forms. Generally, this loss is calculated as part of your personal injury claim when the injury makes you unable to enjoy the activities you loved before the accident.
For example: If you are an avid runner and the injury makes it impossible for you to run, you may be able to attain compensation for this loss. You may also be able to recover compensation for losses such as the inability to go on trips and engage in other family rituals and activities with your significant other and/or your kids.
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, the reason for punitive damages isn’t related to compensating the victim for a loss. Instead, the goal is to punish the negligent party and “set an example of them,” so to speak.
West Virginia law states that punitive damages can only be awarded if the “plaintiff establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the damages suffered were the result of the conduct that was carried out by the defendant with actual malice toward the plaintiff or a conscious, reckless and outrageous indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.”
In other words, if the person who hurt you was DUI, driving at an outrageous rate of speed, or doing some other reckless or outrageous act, then you may be able to recover punitive damages to punish the responsible party. It is important to discuss with our WV personal injury lawyers whether or not we can seek punitive damages in your case.
Contact Our WV Personal Injury Lawyers
As you can see, understanding exactly how much a personal injury case is worth is no small task. It requires not only a thorough understanding of the law but also an understanding of how much other accident victims have been awarded in the past for cases like your own.
That’s why Colombo Law is here. Our personal injury lawyers are passionate advocates for accident victims throughout West Virginia. Please call (304) 599-4229 today for a free consultation.