A Primer On Personal Injury Damages, Part 1
In personal injury civil lawsuits, injured parties may collect damages or financial compensation from the party that is at fault. The purpose of awarding damages in a personal injury case is to “make the plaintiff whole” after an injury. While it is not always possible to make the plaintiff whole, as well as difficult to place a dollar amount on non-economic losses like pain and suffering, the goal is still to put the injured person into the position he or she would have been in, had the injury not occurred. Here is part one of a short primer on damages in a personal injury case:
Categories of damages are divided into economic and non-economic. Economic damages are awarded as a proximate or direct result of the actual financial loss caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional act of the defendant. Examples of such losses are medical bills and lost wages, which can be easily and readily ascertained to a sum certain. Non-economic damages are those which are harder to quantify and include losses like pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Many states have capped or limited non-economic damages. Pennsylvania does not limit either economic or non-economic damages, which are the two main categories of compensation that an injured party may receive.
The types of damages that are available in a personal injury claim vary based upon the type of case, the circumstances of the accident and injury, and Pennsylvania law. Personal injury damages generally include the following:
Compensation for medical expenses
Physical and medical injuries require treatment, which in turn creates a high financial burden for the injured plaintiff. Care in the form of things like physical therapy and hospital stays are expensive, especially in cases in which a plaintiff has suffered a permanent disability and is in need of long-term medical care. This portion of damages should include every expense that the plaintiff has incurred over the course of receiving medical treatment.
Lost wages or income
Compensation for lost wages income is another facet of a plaintiff's award of damages. This includes time lost from work because of the injury or because of the injury's treatment. Any reduction in future earning capacity will also require that the defendant compensate the plaintiff accordingly. In fact, any permanent disability may require that lost wages over the course of an entire lifetime be paid by the defendant.