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Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases

By: Anapol Weiss

When you are injured due to another person’s negligence and are looking to purse a personal injury case, there are different damages you may be entitled to recover. The plaintiff who receives damages from the negligent party may be able to receive economic or non-economic damages depending on the severity of their injury.

It is recommended to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Philadelphia immediately following your injury so that all documentation can be collected and calculated properly.

It’s important to focus on healing your injuries instead of trying to understand all of the rules to win a case. Your personal injury attorney will be able to research settlement amounts in similar cases and fight for fair compensation for your damages to ensure you receive a correct amount.

Special Damages

Economic, or “special” damages, are monetary amounts that are able to be calculated such as medical bills, lost wages, property damages and any out-of-pocket expenses. It is important to keep all medical documents for services like: emergency room visits, ambulance services, chiropractic visits, x-rays, rehab and lab tests. Reimbursement for medical costs begins on the date of the accident and can cover the present bills and into the future.

Lost income includes earnings lost as a result of the injury endured in an accident. Payment for lost income begins the day of your injury and continues as long as you missed out on work. Your employer can provide you with documentation stating the days you were out of work due to your injury.

The out-of-pocket expenses following an injury can include: medications, physical medical aids, parking fees, rental car and other costs that you are forced to pay due to your injury.

Lastly, if you had property damage to your vehicle or personal items during the accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for these items. It is crucial to keep all receipts to document all the bills you paid for during your injury so that you may be reimbursed fairly.

General Damages

Non-economic, or “general” damages are ones that are not able to be measured such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium. These general damages require no receipts and are not available in every case.

Depending on the severity of your injury and the duration of pain and suffering, you may be entitled to receive money from the at-fault party. In order to prove emotional distress following an injury or accident, you will likely need written evidence provided by a mental health professional to give credibility to your case. Emotional distress can take on many different forms such as: depression, anxiety, PTSD and other lasting negative emotions.

If you had an able body before your injury and enjoyed doing activities that you are now not able to enjoy, this would constitute as loss of enjoyment of life. For example, if you endured a serious spinal injury in a car accident and have less range of movement, you may be missing out on the active experiences you cherished before like talking long walks, dancing or playing with your children outside.

Lastly, if you experienced injuries so severe that you lost out on the benefits of family relationships, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation. For example, if you had a debilitating injury and are no longer able to care for your children, this would constitute as loss of consortium.

Although these situations do not have price tags to determine their worth, these non-economic damages can have profound negative effects on those who endured serious injuries.

Punitive Damages

If you were injured by someone who was deemed by the court to be incredibly careless in their actions, you may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are an extra financial settlement amount on top of your compensatory damages awarded in the case.

Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania is a state that follows the ‘Comparative Negligence’ rule which essentially means you are still able to recover financial damages from the alternate party who caused injury to you as long as you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. For example, if the court was going to award you $100,000 for all damages, but found you to be 20% responsible for the accident, you would walk away with an $80,000 settlement.