When you are hurt because of the negligence of another, the law seeks to have that person repair you to pre-accident status. Most people carry insurance because they cannot afford to pay out large sums of money that might be necessary to make people whole. An accident victim may require adding up many different types of damages in order to truly be put back to the position they were prior to the accident. It is important to remember that there are some incompensable harms. Some injuries are so debilitating that no amount of money could truly get someone back to the level of happiness that they were prior to the injury. For most injuries though, getting a certain dollar amount can at least serve as a nice consolation after one has been forced to spend a great deal of time injured and frustrated. Because the intention of this money is to compensate the victim for their losses, the majority of damages are referred to as compensatory damages.
The first type of compensatory damage that must be taken care of is Property Loss. The is considered a special damage because it is easy to calculate. By getting estimates from a few body shops for a repair, or by looking at comparables in the case of a total loss, insurance companies are able to value your property damage to your car and other things in your car quite easily.
The second compensatory damage to be taken care of is Medical Treatment. This is also considered a special damage because it is easy to calculate. This number can be obtained by simply adding up all of the medical bills from each and every provider that treated the victim for injuries that are related to the accident.
Once those special damages are taken care of, general damages need to be given a value. These damages are called general damages because we value them generally. We typically do not have precise amounts. The first general damage to consider is called Pain and Suffering, this is to compensate for the physical pain one was forced to endure. Coupled with that amount is often Emotional Distress damages, this amount is supposed to compensate the victim for emotional harms that they suffered such as stress, sadness, depression, anger, fatigue and anxiety as a result of their accident and related injuries.
The next general damage to attempt to put a value on is called Loss of Enjoyment of Life. As opposed to compensated an injured victim for the bad emotions that he or she experienced, this amount is to compensate for the loss of good emotions that the victim would have experienced but for the injury. These generally include things like having to give up a hobby to do a physical limitation, or possible missing a vacation with friends or family.
The next general damage to consider is called Loss of Consortium. These damages are meant to make up for the loss of human relationships that a victim may have suffered after their accident. The most common being the physical relationship that may be lost for a time between the injured victim and his or her spouse. People derive a great deal of their happiness in life through their relationships with others. These loss of consortium damages help account for some of that.
The final category of damages is one that is not compensatory. Punitive Damages have the direct intention to punish the bad actor for his or her behavior. Adding these damages can be an extra deterrent to future negligent behavior. These are the awards you see being given out by the millions in the movies. That does not actually happen very often. There is an extremely high threshold that must be proven to be entitled to recover punitive damages and most cases do not ever consider them.
Valuing each particular type of damages can be extremely tricky. A qualified personal injury attorney can help you figure out the value of your claim.
This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.