According to the National Center for Health Statistics, around 31 million people are injured in accidents in the US every year. While some accidents and injuries are inevitable, many are preventable or avoidable.
If you’ve been injured as a result of negligence on behalf of another person, an employer or an organization, you may be thinking about claiming compensation. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at personal injury claims and how compensation works.
An Introduction to Personal Injury Compensation
In a personal injury case, a plaintiff, the individual who has been injured, seeks compensation for injuries or wrongs they have suffered. Plaintiffs are entitled to compensation in cases where they were not at fault for an accident or an injury and another party can be held accountable, whether due to negligence or direct action.
There are a wide variety of types of personal injury claims, including road traffic accidents, workplace injuries, accidents in public places and slips, trips, and falls.
If a personal injury claim is approved, the plaintiff will receive compensation in the form of damages. There are two categories of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are awarded to the plaintiff in recognition of the harm they have suffered as a result of an accident or injury. Compensatory damages are further classified as either special or general damages.
Special Compensatory Damages
Special compensatory damages are unique to each plaintiff and can vary significantly from one individual to the next. These types of damages cover monetary losses which have been sustained as a result of an injury or poor health. There is no limit to the amount of compensation an individual can claim when an injury or an incident results in loss of earnings and expenses.
Examples of special compensatory damages include:
- Medical expenses: If you incur medical fees as a result of your injury, you should be able to claim compensation to cover the cost of healthcare expenses. Medical treatments and procedures, medications, therapies and rehabilitation costs can add up quickly, and making a claim can help to alleviate financial stress and pressure.
- Loss of income or earnings: If you have an injury that has prevented you from working, you’re unable to return to your job due to illness, or you face an uncertain future in regards to your occupation as a result of your health, your compensation claim should take loss of income and future earnings into consideration. The amount of compensation you can receive will depend on the extent of your losses and the projected reduction in income in future earnings.
- Property damage and household expenses: Your compensation claim will also cover the cost of household expenses and property damage, if applicable.
General Compensatory Damages
General compensatory damages are non-monetary damages which arise as a result of a personal injury.
Common examples include:
- Pain and suffering: Any type of accident or injury can contribute to distress, suffering, pain and discomfort, which you can claim compensation for in addition to medical expenses.
- Emotional distress: Often, the emotional impact of a personal injury is more severe and long-lasting than the physical injuries themselves.
- Loss of consortium: “Loss of consortium” is a phrase used to describe the impact on relationships and family life as a result of injuries, wrongful death, or poor health.
- Wrongful death: In the case of wrongful death damages, compensation is awarded to the family members of the deceased. Damages may include funeral costs, costs of medical care incurred prior to death, emotional distress experienced by relatives, and loss of financial contributions. The amount of compensation awarded in the case of wrongful death is often influenced by the number of dependents and the financial impact, both in the present and the future, of the loss of a loved one.
Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff in cases where the behavior or actions of the wrongdoer are deemed reprehensible or disgraceful. Examples of scenarios that may result in punitive damages include violence, sexual assault, or fraud.
If an individual files a personal injury case against a prescription drug manufacturer, for example, and the defendant is found guilty of providing defective medicines, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant was aware of the defect and purposefully withheld that information.
Punitive damages are awarded less frequently than compensatory damages, and the processes involved in making a claim are more complex.
Work with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury compensation is designed to benefit people who have been injured or harmed through no fault of their own. If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, or you’ve sustained injuries as a result of somebody else’s negligence, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you claim the compensation you deserve.
Working with a reliable personal injury lawyer eliminates stress, simplifies the process of filing a claim, and strengthens your chances of receiving maximum compensation.