In a personal injury case, the plaintiff has the right to seek damages. Damages are financial compensation given to the plaintiff to help make them financially whole, and restore what was lost before the accident.
In some cases, it is difficult to put a monetary value on a victim’s suffering, but the purpose of these claims is to help the victim get back to the financial position they were in before the incident.
Common Damages You Can Receive in a Bellingham Injury Case
The damages available in a personal injury case vary. Not all cases will have the same types of damages or similar amounts. In fact, two similar incidents could have very different settlement outcomes.
Also, the power of the evidence will often dictate how much a plaintiff receives in their case. The more evidence a victim has, the easier it is to get insurance companies to offer a fair settlement.
Medical Costs and Treatments
In most injury claims, the bulk of the settlement goes toward medical costs, including emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and treatments.
The defendant would then reimburse any medical treatment you receive that is directly associated with your injury. Catastrophic injury cases have extensive medical costs tied to the settlement – sometimes hundreds of thousands.
Every expense that you paid out of pocket, paid by your health or auto insurance, or still pending should be included in the medical costs portion of your settlement.
Most likely your case will have liens applied. Liens may come from hospitals, physicians, or your health insurance company. These companies request that portions of your settlement pay them first – before you receive the remaining balance.
You also receive compensation for your lost wages, which includes work that you missed as a result of the injury, treatments, follow-ups, and surgeries. If you took sick leave or vacation time, you could request monetary compensation for those days as well.
Now if you are permanently disabled and unable to work because of your injury, the loss of future wages for the remainder of your working years can be included in this part of the settlement.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering make up for a bulk of the settlement, especially when a jury is involved. Insurance companies like to argue against pain and suffering damages because these are not based on actual numbers. Instead, they take general damages like lost wages and medical costs, and multiply based on the severity of the injury.
Your pain and suffering refer to the physical pain and suffering. You might suffer immediately after the accident, but it also accounts for future suffering for permanent injuries and disfigurements. Also, the more surgical procedures you have, the higher your pain and suffering damages could become.
Some injuries are so catastrophic that they result in both physical and emotional pain. Emotional distress refers to the psychological complications of an injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other conditions.
You will need proof these conditions exist, such as psychiatric records, diagnoses, and medications prescribed for these conditions.
Loss of Companionship
In more severe injury cases, family members may qualify for loss of companionship or consortium. This typically occurs when the victim’s injuries are so severe that their relationships with a spouse or family members are permanently compromised.
Punitive damages are a specialty type of damage. Unlike ordinary losses, punitive damages punish the defendant and serve as a reminder to the public of what behavior is not tolerated.
The purpose of these damages is not to help the plaintiff become financially whole, but the plaintiff still receives them. Nothing can easily heal emotional wounds, but monetary compensation is the only vehicle by which we can attempt to reimburse them for their suffering – and make their life more livable.
Punitive damages do not apply to all cases. Instead, it only occurs in cases of gross misconduct or reckless behavior that is so severe the judge feels punitive damages are necessary.
Gross negligence is a conduct that is purely reckless, and the defendant has a blatant disregard for the life, rights, and safety of others.
In gross negligence cases there is the addition of reckless behavior.
For example, a company has an older elevator that breaks and falls – injuring occupants. It turns out that the business was ordered to have the elevator replaced with multiple citations and ignored these requests. Because they not only breached their duty, but kept a dangerous elevator in operation, they were reckless and therefore grossly negligent.
The Limitations of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages may have applicable caps. Washington is strict for punitive damages and rarely allows them in injury cases. Even then, there are no caps on punitive damages if the judge agrees the defendant’s behavior warrants them.
What is the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?
Damages are divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages refer to those awarded to cover a financial loss. That includes medical bills, lost wages, and other economic costs that can be calculated with receipts, statements, and other documentation.
Non-economic damages are not easily calculated because they do not have a statement showing how much was paid.
How Much is My Case Worth?
The only way to determine how much your case is worth is to speak with an injury attorney. An attorney can review your case, add up costs already encountered, and talk with financial experts to help determine any future compensation you deserve.
Schedule a Consultation with a Washington Attorney Today
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney in the area.
The attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC understand what you and your loved ones are going through, and we want to help you.
We can review your case during a free consultation, and there is no obligation to hire us even after your appointment.
To get started, call our office at 800-925-1875 or request more information online.