In the last blog, we discussed the first two components of a personal injury claim—negligence and proximate cause. The third and final component is damages.
The third component is damages that were proximately caused by the negligence of the other party. In the prior blog example, the injuries received by you in the car accident are those proximately caused by the negligence of the other driver. There are many different damages you can recover under the law when injured by the negligence of others. Here are some:
Medical expenses: This includes the medical expenses you incur as a result of the collision as well as future medical expenses if needed.
Past lost wages: If your injuries cause you to be off work, then you are entitled to recover the lost wages.
Future loss of wage earning capacity: This requires more of an explanation. If you are a professional baseball player and as a result of someone else’s negligence, your arm is amputated, then it is rather obvious you will not be able to play baseball anymore. Your career is over. You will be able to get some job, but it most likely will not pay what you earned as a professional baseball player. You should be compensated for those earnings you would lose in the future if you had not been injured. Again, this can be difficult to prove and many times it requires an expert, such as an economist, to testify as to the amount of your loss.
Pain and Suffering and Mental Anguish: Anyone who has suffered a serious injury realizes pain and suffering and mental anguish is involved. This aspect of your case is more difficult to quantify given there is no set formula or economic calculation you can refer to. There is no predetermined formula to determine how much you should be awarded for pain and suffering and mental anguish. Rather, it is up to the jury to determine this amount if you go to trial and is based on the testimony and evidence.
Physical Disfigurement: If you suffered an injury that physically disfigures your body, then you can seek to recover damages for this disfigurement. An example is a burn case. I represented a client who suffered third degree burns and no amount of plastic surgery was going to correct the scarring associated with the burns or the change in pigmentation of her skin. She was entitled to seek compensation for this disfigurement. Again, similar to pain and suffering, there is no formula for calculating these damages. Rather, it is up to jury to determine the amount if you go to trial and needs to be based on the testimony and evidence presented.
Physical Impairment: If you are physically impaired, this a separate element of damage. I once represented a young man injured in a vehicle accident where his car rolled over. During the rollover, the roof of the vehicle crushed down into the passenger compartment, forcing his head forward and down, and breaking his neck. As a result, he was a quadriplegic never able to walk or have full use of his hands again. His remaining years were confined to a wheelchair. He had a right to seek damages for his physical impairment.
You must have all three components (Negligence/Causation/Damages) in order to recover money from the responsible party.