Whether you have suffered serious personal injury in an automobile accident, motor vehicle accident, trucking accident, eighteen wheeler accident, motorcycle accident, hit by a drunk driver, injured by a defective product, or by a dangerous premises condition, the goal of any lawsuit is to attempt to compensate the injured party for the damages incurred. Evidence concerning damages in personal injury cases must be thoroughly presented with competent and admissible evidence in order to ensure the injured client is fairly compensated. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, you will need an experienced personal injury trial attorney to properly prepare your case for trial and present the evidence to the Court and jury.
When I try a case in Court, I tell the jury the absolute truth. I tell the jury that my client would rather go back to the day before the accident and have his or her health back, as opposed to any amount of money. Unfortunately, such a request is not possible. Therefore, monetary damages is the only possible way we have to attempt to provide some type of compensation to seriously injured victims for the terrible and tragic damages sustained in accidents which should have not occurred but for the negligence of the wrongful party.
Common types of recoverable damages in personal injury lawsuits include the following:
Past and Future Medical Bills
After a serious accident, the injured victim may need medical treatment from an emergency room hospital, medical doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, pharmacies, rehabilitation centers, and more. Such medical treatment is expensive.
Tort law allows injured victims who have sustained personal injuries proximately caused by the negligence of another party to recover for their past medical bills if (1) the medical treatment was necessary, and (2) the charges (bills) for the medical treatment were reasonable at the time and place incurred.
Even if you are covered by health insurance, an injured victim is entitled to recover all medical bills paid and incurred (owed). The health insurance company will, in almost all personal injury cases, ask for reimbursement for the monies paid on behalf of the injured victim if the insured recovers for medical bills from a third party. This is called subrogation and without it the cost of health insurance would most likely increase dramatically.
If it can be shown during trial with competent evidence that the injured party will probably need medical treatment in the future due to injuries sustained in the accident, and that such medical treatment is necessary, the injured party is also allowed to ask the jury to award damages for future medical bills. Most of the time, testimony from a healthcare provider will be needed to establish evidence of the necessity of future medical treatment and the anticipated cost of such treatment.
Past Lost Earnings/Wages
Tort law allows an injured party to recover for loss of earnings/wages incurred in the past by the injured party if it can be shown with competent and admissible evidence that the party was unable to work due to injuries sustained in the accident if such injuries were proximately caused by the negligence of another party.
An effective way to prove that the injured party was not able to work due to injuries sustained in the accident is through testimony and records from the injured person’s medical healthcare providers. Establishing the amount of past lost earnings entails offering evidence of the average monthly amount of wages earned prior to the accident and then calculating the wages lost due to the time missed from work by the injured party.
Future Loss of Earning Capacity
An injured party is also allowed to ask the jury to compensate the party for loss of earning capacity damages which will probably occur in the future due to the party’s inability to work in the future as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident. Evidence such as past tax statements to show the person’s past earnings history is often used to predict the amount of earnings that most likely would have been earned by the injured person but were lost due to the injuries sustained in the accident.
It is also extremely helpful to elicit testimony and/or records from the injured party’s medical providers indicating that the injuries are permanent in nature and will most likely prevent the party from returning to their previous employment or in serious cases, any employment.
Past and Future Pain and Suffering
Tort law allows an injured party to recover pain and suffering damages endured by the party from personal injury sustained in the past, and which will probably occur in the future, if caused by the negligence of a another party.
An effective way to present pain and suffering evidence in Court is through the use of the injured party’s medical records and/or testimony by the party’s medical providers. Each time the injured party goes to a medical doctor or healthcare provided for treatment, the type, location, and severity of the pain is usually documented in the medical records. If the injured party sits at home hurt and does not go to the doctor for necessary medical care, not only does that person fail to receive the medical treatment that is needed for their health, no medical records are generated to document that person’s injuries and pain and suffering.
The jury determines the amount of monetary damages that would fairly compensate an injured party for pain and suffering. The jury could choose to award $5,000, $50,000, or $5,000,000. Each case is different because the circumstances surrounding an injured party’s pain and suffering is unique.
Past and Future Mental Anguish
Tort law clearly allows an injured party to be fairly compensated for past and future mental anguish damages. A person who has sustained serious bodily injury as a result of an accident, such as an automobile accident, typically also suffers some form of mental anguish including depression, stress, nightmares, anxiety, sleep disturbances and post traumatic stress disorder.
In order to be compensated fairly for mental anguish damages, competent and admissible evidence should be presented to the Court concerning the type, severity, and duration of such damages. It should also be shown that the injured party’s normal life was significantly disturbed due to the mental anguish sustained as a result of the accident.
The amount of monetary damages for mental anguish differs for each case and is determined by the jury based on all evidence presented during trial.
Past and Future Physical Impairment
Physical impairment can be defined as activities that a person enjoyed participating in that the injured victim can no longer enjoy due to the injuries sustained in an accident. Examples of such activities may include walking, running, biking, playing sports, cooking, going out to the movies, driving, as well as others.
Tort law is absolutely clear that a party who has suffered injury which has caused physical impairment may be compensated for such damages by the jury. The jury may also award damages for future physical impairment if it shown that such impairment will probably occur in the future.
The amount of damages to fairly compensate an injured party for past and future physical impairment is determined by the jury and differs on a case by case basis.
Many times serious accidents cause permanent physical disfigurement to the victim. Such disfigurement can be the result of severe scars, loss of limbs, and burns. Tort law allows the personal injury victim to recover monetary damages for physical disfigurement. The amount of the recovery is determined by the jury based on an amount that the jury believes would fairly compensate the victim for such disfigurement based on the evidence presented at trial.
Loss of Consortium, Comfort, Love & Society, and Services
Did you know that the spouse of a seriously injured party can also be a party to a personal injury lawsuit and ask for reasonable and fair compensation for loss of consortium, comfort, love and society caused by the injuries sustained by the injured party? In many cases, serious injuries cause a serious strain on marriages. Wrongful death cases usually result in severe loss of consortium damages. Furthermore, seriously injured spouses are unable to provide the type of love, support, comfort and services that were provided prior to the injuries sustained in an accident. The Supreme Court of Texas recognizes this type of damage and allows a jury to compensate injured parties with monetary damages for loss of consortium comfort, love & society, and services in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.