In our five-part series on understanding negligence actions, we have examined negligence claims with a broad overview, as well as taking a look at duty, breach of duty, and causation, three critical elements in these claims. For our fifth and final post in this series, we will be taking a close look at the final component of negligence actions: damages.
Ultimately, in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff who was injured due to the defendant’s negligent act is seeking financial compensation for his or her suffering. In negligence actions, a plaintiff may seek compensatory damages that reimburse the plaintiff for injury or loss due to negligence. In rare cases such as where a defendant driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, a plaintiff can seek punitive damages for the defendant’s dangerous behavior. Your Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer must have an excellent understanding of this concept to be successful in your case’s litigation.
what damages can i claim?
In a negligence action, there are certain major groups of damages a plaintiff is able to claim: pecuniary expenses due to actual injury, loss of income or earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, inconvenience, and mental anguish.
Pecuniary or economic expenses are those damages that can be estimated and paid for with specific monetary compensation, including medical bills.
Loss of income or earning capacity includes wages that were not or will not be able to be earned because of the actual injury, such as due to missed time from work for recovery or medical appointments. A plaintiff who is unable to work into the future may recover future lost wages, and a plaintiff who has lost the ability to perform their job as before and must seek a lower-paying job may have a claim for lost earning capacity.
A plaintiff can also recover for intangible or “noneconomic” harms. Physical pain and suffering are the most common form of noneconomic harms. A plaintiff can also obtain compensation for mental anguish and for any inconvenience caused by the injury. An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can help determine how to get damages you deserve.
In order to examine damages you can claim after a car accident, let’s return to our stop sign sample. The plaintiff in this illustration was struck by the defendant’s car when the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign. Suppose the plaintiff, due to injuries inflicted directly from the accident, spent a week in the hospital, time on crutches that affected mobility, and continuously suffers from panic attacks and anxiety while in motor vehicles. This plaintiff could make a claim for compensation for the following: medical bills incurred during the week at the hospital; bills for follow up appointments; lost wages during the hospital stay, for any recovery period and for time spent seeking medical attention; any lost earning capacity that may have occurred; pain and suffering, permanent injuries, loss of mobility, and other health issues; inconvenience; and mental anguish and emotional distress due to severe anxiety.
why having a trusted attorney is necessary
In negligence actions, there are no presumed damages, meaning plaintiffs must prove based on evidence that he or she deserves compensation for suffering. Even after proving other elements in the case including existence of a duty and injury caused by a breach of that duty, there still must exist a clear link between injury inflicted during the accident and any damages claimed. An experienced attorney will know what damages to pursue and how to connect the dots and ensure your case has the best possible chance of recovering damages you are owed.
If you are an injured resident of Charlottesville or Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Personal Injury Lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. want to hear from you. While you are seeking the damages you deserve after an injury, our knowledgeable and compassionate legal team is here to help victims and their families.
Call Kirk D. Becchi today at (434) 817-3100 to set up your appointment for a free consultation, and let our attorneys help you seek justice for your injuries.