The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

The short answer is that you are entitled to be put back into the position that you would have been in had the incident not occurred. Unfortunately, no matter how good your lawyer is or how sorry the premise owner is for your injuries, no one can turn back the hands of time. Accordingly, what happens (assuming you prevail) is that you will receive a sum of money, either through a settlement or verdict. The amount you receive is supposed to be an amount to reasonably compensate you for what you have been through.

Certain aspects of your damage claim will be fairly precise numbers. For example if you earn $500/week and you missed one week of work due to your injuries, you will have a $500 lost wage claim. Of course, defendants will argue that you should receive nothing if you had sick days or if the missed time is not as a result of doctor’s orders. Further, if you are in the 1/3 tax bracket, defendant will want to subtract this amount as well.

You also will be entitled to receive the cost of your medical expenses incurred because of the wreck. Once again, it will be your burden to prove, often by very expensive ($1,000/hour or more) testimony from your doctor that your injuries, more likely than not where caused by the incident, that the medical treatment rendered was necessary to heal and cure you, and that the cost of the medical treatment was reasonable compared to the cost for similar treatment in your community. In addition, if you have health insurance, defendant will argue that all you are entitled to is the amount of your "out of pocket" co-pays and deductibles and the amount of your health insurer’s subrogation claim. Forget that you have had $800/month deducted from your paycheck for the last 20 years to pay for this coverage.

The hardest to quantify area of damages generally is referred to as "pain and suffering" and mental anguish/emotional distress. It amazes me sometimes how people think that if you hurt someone and pay their out of pocket medical bills, that the injured person has been reasonably compensated. How about the inconvenience of going to numerous doctor visits; the stress of worrying about bills that aren’t getting paid because you can’t work; the pain you feel from the injury; the inability to do things that you like or need to do because of the injuries you suffered – for instance, not being able to go on along-planed vacation, not being able to exercise, sometimes not even being able to do the normal activities of daily living, like driving, dressing, cooking, cleaning etc.? These are the types of things that a pain and suffering award is meant to compensate. Just because it is harder to quantify monetarily should not mean that it is any less real and therefore simply should be forgotten.

Finally, in some rare cases, you might be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate you for what you have been through; rather they are designed to punish defendant for reprehensible conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, but in certain cases, they do have their place.

Comments are closed.