What Are Damages in Relation to Personal Injury
Personal injury cases are typically based on the fact that the plaintiff has an injury that requires a significant amount of money to recover from. As you speak with a lawyer about your injury, the word “damages” might come up fairly often. What are damages and which can you seek?
Definition of Damages
If you don’t understand damages in your personal injury case, it might be helpful to understand the meaning of the word itself. In common law, “damages” are what you are given as a monetary award for injuries and other losses. Many of those losses are financial, but damages can be given for non-financial losses as well.
For damages to be given, you would need to prove that another individual was negligent, caused your injuries and there were losses as a result. If you think that legal counsel may be of benefit to you, then an Elizabeth, NJ personal injury lawyer from a firm like The Law Office of Wade Suthard, P.C., may be able to help.
Three Types of Damages
In a personal injury case, there are three main types of damages. They are economic, non-economic and punitive:
- Economic – Economic damages are financial losses that are easily quantifiable. When economic damages are awarded, they are meant to take some of the financial burden off of the plaintiff. To come up with an amount, the court will generally look at the current fair market price, in addition to documents such as medical bills. Some economic damages are lost income, medical costs, disability costs, personal care costs, property damage and other similar expenses.
- Non-Economic – Non-economic damages do not come with a set monetary value like economic damages do. Though they are less tangible, the court can determine an amount for non-economic damages based on what the victim has experienced, as well as the amount awarded for economic damages. Some non-economic damages might include loss of reputation, loss of companionship, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and the loss of joy.
- Punitive – In some cases, the court determines the defendant was particularly reckless or malicious in his or her act that caused your injury. This is when punitive damages might be awarded. Although you receive the award for these damages, the ruling is meant as a way to punish a defendant that is particularly careless, showing others that this behavior is unacceptable.