How is Compensation Determined During a Personal Injury Suit?

Personal injury lawsuits are civil claims. That means that they are filed by a victim against the person or entity responsible for an injury that they’ve suffered. The end goal is to receive compensation rather than to have the perpetrator sentenced to imprisonment (as is the case in a criminal trial pursued by the government.)

When a victim files a personal injury lawsuit, their concern is twofold — they want justice for the injury that they’ve suffered, and they want to receive compensation. That’s why one of the first questions clients ask their personal injury attorney is about the value of their case.  It is normal and understandable for a victim to want to know how much their case is worth, but the answer is not always straightforward.

Personal injury damages are generally split into different categories. The most easily understood is compensatory damages. These provide the victim with the dollar value of their injury, and this usually represents a combination of their past, present, and estimated future medical bills and expenses, lost wages and earnings capacity, and property loss. Emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life are also included in this category. Calculating these impacts is not as straightforward as it would seem, and attorneys often rely upon testimony from expert witnesses who are able to calculate their value and make it understandable to a jury.

The second category of damages that a defendant can be required to pay is punitive damages. These are assessed where the individual or entity is thought to have acted with malice or an unreasonable level of disregard for the victim. Punitive damages are meant to serve as punishment and to send a message to both the defendant and to others who might act in the same way in the future.

The amount of compensation a victim can receive is often impacted by other factors, including whether they are viewed as having contributed to their own injury. In some states, this results in defendants who are found guilty only having to pay a percentage of the total award.

Every case is unique, and compensation will depend upon numerous variables. For a fair assessment of the value of your personal injury case, contact our experienced attorneys today to set up a time for a meeting.