How are personal injury damages calculated?
I often get questions about personal injury damages. How is a personal injury verdict or settlement amount calculated? There is a lot of bad information floating around. It is important that you understand what you may be entitled to. First, it is important to know is that there are several categories of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages.
Economic damages are money losses that either have occurred or will occur. Common examples are past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past wage losses, future wage losses, property damages and the cost of substitute household services.
Non-economic damages are sometimes referred to as pain and suffering. A jury would be told to consider such things as: pain, humiliation, distress and interference with usual activities.
Punitive damages are relatively rare in personal injury cases but not unheard of. They apply in cases where there is misconduct beyond negligence. You are required to prove the defendant acted recklessly with an indifference to the safety or health of others. Or that the person acted with actual malice towards the victim.
Burden of Proof
The injured person must prove their economic and non-economic damages by a preponderance of the evidence. That means more likely than not. A simple tipping of the scales is enough proof for these damages. For punitive damages, the injured party must meet a clear and convincing evidence standard. A mere tipping of the scales will not be enough.
Damages In A Personal Injury Case
- Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Future Lost Wages or Lost Earning Capacity
- Property Damages
- Pain & Suffering