Are you thinking of suing someone for harming you or your property? One of the first questions that probably comes to mind is what, specifically, you can request compensation for.
While there are numerous types of damages, you will in all likelihood only need to consider three or less. These three types of damages are economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Both economic and non-economic damages fall into the category of compensatory damages. If you are seeking damages for any kind of accident-related loss, you are seeking compensatory damages.
To receive compensatory damages, you will need to put together a strong case with convincing evidence. The kind of evidence you should collect depends on the nature of your case. It may include statements from witnesses, police reports, medical records, or other evidence.
If you are unsure of how much or what kinds of compensatory damages to ask for, consult a lawyer. Their knowledge of the law and of cases similar to yours can guide you as you prepare your lawsuit.
Economic damages are exactly what the name suggests—damages that cover the financial losses, costs, and expenses that occurred as a direct result of the accident or incident you are suing over. Among the many types of economic damages that may apply in your case are the following.
- Medical bills, e.g., bills for a hospital stay, medication, physical therapy, homecare, etc.
- Repair bills, e.g., the cost of fixing or replacing your car or other damaged property
- Funeral bills, e.g., bills for buying a casket, arranging the funeral, etc.
- Loss of income, e.g., the wages you lost when you took time off from work to recover from or seek treatment for your injury
- Loss of earning capacity, e.g., the wages you expected to earn over the course of your career but now cannot due to a permanent disabling injury
While economic damages compensate for financial loss, non-economic damages cover everything else—the physical, mental, emotional, and so on. It may be difficult to put a price tag on non-economic damages.
How do you quantify something like psychological trauma or the pain of losing a loved one? This is another instance where a lawyer may be able to help you figure things out.
Among the many types of non-economic damages that may apply in your case are the following.
- Pain and suffering, e.g., short-term or chronic pain caused by physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental disorders caused by the accident, etc.
- Permanent disability, e.g., diminished use or loss of a limb, diminished use or loss of one or more senses, etc.
- Loss of companionship, e.g., the support, affection, and guidance you expected to receive from your loved one over the course of your relationship, but have now been deprived of due to their untimely death
- Reduced quality of life, e.g., your injury makes it more difficult for you to enjoy your life, spend time with loved ones, engage in work or hobbies, etc.
- Disfigurement, e.g., scars left behind once your injury has healed as much as it is going to
Some states place a limit on non-economic damages. For example, S.C. Ann. § 15-32-220 details restrictions on the dollar amount claimants can receive in non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits in South Carolina.
O.C.G.A. § 51-13-1 does the same in the state of Georgia. You will want to be aware of the applicable laws in your state or hire a lawyer who is already aware of such laws before filing a lawsuit for non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are very rare and will probably not affect your case. They are only awarded in cases where the claimant can demonstrate truly egregious misconduct on the defendant’s part.
Punitive damages only apply in cases that go beyond mere negligence. You must prove the defendant knew that their action (or inaction) could cause harm and refused to change their behavior despite that.
In these uncommon instances, a jury may award punitive damages not to compensate the claimant, but rather to punish the defendant for their reckless behavior.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Calculate Your Damages
Now that you know what the three types of damages are, you are better equipped to make decisions about your lawsuit and better prepared for your meeting with a lawyer, should you choose to consult one. If you would like a free case review, call the office of George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers or fill out our online form today.