One common question a potential claimant will have when pursuing a personal injury case is how much compensation can he or she get. In other words, how much is his or her case worth? Three elements affect how much your case is worth, these are:
1. Who is at fault?
Who is at fault?
The value of a person’s personal injury claim is affected by whether or not the claimant is at fault wholly or partially. Their action or lack thereof after the accident could also be a factor.
Comparative Negligence: Most states adhere to the “comparative negligence” standard which means that a plaintiff who is partially or fully responsible in causing the accident will have their compensation be reduced, usually in a similar amount to how much the plaintiff was at fault.
Contributory Negligence: Very few states follow the “contributory negligence” standard which means that a plaintiff will not be able to recover any damages at all from the defendant if he or she is even partially responsible for causing the accident.
Plaintiff’s actions after the accident may also affect the worth of his or her claim. Most states expect plaintiffs to make an effort to mitigate the ill effects caused by the accident. If a plaintiff unreasonably fails to do so, the potential compensation for damages may be significantly be reduced. For example, a patient deliberately rejects or delays getting medical attention or care causing the condition to worsen. In these cases, the defendant, his or her lawyers or insurance company can argue that the plaintiff’s injuries may not even come from the accident but from the plaintiff’s own actions. It is always best to immediately seek medical attention following an accident.
A claimant in a personal injury claim can be awarded two types of damages: Compensatory and Punitive Damages.
Compensatory Damages are awarded to plaintiffs to compensate or to make up for what was lost during the accident, or to “make the plaintiffs whole.” These are damages that are easily measurable. These include:
Medical Treatment – A plaintiff who sustains injuries in an accident should seek immediate medical help to treat such injuries. Reimbursement for expenses already made will be part of a plaintiff’s possible compensation, as well as expenses that will be made for future care still necessary because of the accident. It is best to keep all records and documents related to your medical care.
Loss of Income – Loss of wages because of the accident, as well as because of the necessary treatment will be included in a plaintiff’s potential award. If the plaintiff was made permanently unable to work because of the accident, the defendant may be required to pay the lost wages he or she would have made over the course of a lifetime.
Property Loss – If personal belongings such as vehicle or clothing were damaged in the accident, the plaintiff would most likely receive reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the damaged property’s market value.
Pain and Suffering – A plaintiff may be entitled to get compensation for pain and suffering resulting from the accident and its aftermath.
Emotional Distress – Usually given to more serious injuries. A jury may award a plaintiff compensation when he or she has experienced serious emotional or psychological damages including fear, anxiety and sleep loss.
Loss of Enjoyment – When an accident keeps a plaintiff from enjoying his or her day to day experiences, hobbies, and other recreational activities, he or she may be entitled to a compensation for “loss of enjoyment.”
Loss of Consortium – This refers to the impact of the accident to the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse, for example, the inability to maintain a sexual relationship because of the accident. A state may award compensation directly to the spouse rather than to the injured plaintiff.
Punitive damages may be awarded when a defendant has acted in a particularly negligent or wrongful behavior. Unlike Compensatory damages that are given to make the plaintiff “whole,” punitive damages, while also given to plaintiffs, serve as a punishment to the defendant as well as the deterrent for such behaviors and actions.
Finally, even when the other party was clearly at fault, and serious injuries were sustained by the plaintiff, he or she may not recover damages fully. A third element that affects the worth of a personal injury case is the ability of the defendant or his insurance to cover the compensation.
If an at-fault person only has the minimum amount of insurance which is not enough to cover the plaintiff’s losses, then the plaintiff will not be able to recover fully. His or her recovery will be dependent on the at-fault person’s policy limits. If the at-fault person does not have any insurance at all, the plaintiff may not be able to recover anything.”