During personal injury lawsuit proceedings, the injured party’s attorney works tirelessly to get them compensation. The compensation a plaintiff receives is called damages. Here are the main types of damages in personal injury cases that you might expect, laid out simply for your understanding.
Are all personal injury damages economic?
Some types of personal injury damages are based on economics while others are not. These two categories — economic vs. non-economic — make up all the types of damages in personal injury cases. While they all involve some type of monetary payment, the difference is this:
Economic damages result from direct financial loss (like medical bills), while non-economic damages are compensation for suffering that may not have been directly financial (like emotional distress, pain and suffering). It’s up to the insurance company or jury to attribute a dollar amount to non-economic damages.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury
For our purposes, we’re separating the possible personal injury damages into five categories:
1. Medical bill compensation
This is the most common — and straightforward — form of personal injury damages. Basically, the court considers all of the costs of testing, treatment, hospital stays, nursing home stays, physical therapy or other medical care of any kind that the plaintiff endured. As you can imagine, these costs can easily skyrocket, which makes damages all the more necessary.
Medical damages should consider past, ongoing and future costs for injury-related care. The compensation may go to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s health insurer, depending on who’s been paying the bills.
2. Lost wages
When someone is injured, they may be unable to work — which leads to lost wages or income. So lost wage damages are compensation for that missed time and salary. This includes paid time off that the plaintiff was unable to take, too.
When an injury is so severe that the plaintiff is out of work for good, a lifetime’s worth of earnings from the point of the injury must be calculated. If the injury affects some but not all future earning potential, the defendant must still pay a portion of lifetime earnings.
3. Pain, suffering and emotional distress
Since there’s no hard-and-fast number, these non-economic personal injury damages develop from perceived value. Because juries are likely to award pain and suffering damages — especially in the case of significant injury — insurance companies often settle. So how do insurance companies figure out the value of pain and suffering? Through something called a pain multiplier. They might multiply economic damages by a specific number to arrive at their value.
For emotional distress, the plaintiff must present psychiatric records and diagnoses.
4. Wrongful death and loss of companionship or consortium
These types of personal injury damages are both presented by family members of deceased or significantly altered individuals. If they can prove negligence or intentional malice, the damages will be higher. Spouses and parents of children can take the lead in this situation. There are specifics to every circumstance, including who can claim a lawsuit for whom.
Loss of consortium is rather specific. It refers to a partner’s lost ability for intimacy, and it may provide the spouse an opportunity to sue.
Punitive damages in personal injury cases are rare. Instead of serving the purpose of appeasing the plaintiff, they’re basically punishment for defendants who act in disregard of other lives and are outright harmful.
In the state of Florida, there are limitations to punitive damages. For instance, punitive damages are only permitted in the event of gross negligence (which must be proven through evidence showcasing reckless disregard for others).
What are damage caps?
In many states, the court caps certain damages in personal injury lawsuits at a maximum. Florida in particular caps punitive damages at three times the compensatory amount, or a max of $500,000–$2 million. Considering the rarity of punitive damages in personal injury cases, this isn’t a common award.
Helping you achieve the personal injury damages you deserve
If you’ve been injured in the state of Florida, the Porcaro Law team wants you to know one thing: you deserve compensation. Our personal injury attorneys work hard to help our clients win or settle cases — and if we don’t, they don’t pay us a dime.
If you’ve been injured within the last two years and want to get started on your proceedings, contact us for a free consultation. With all you’ve been through, it’s time to see your personal injury damages come to fruition.