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What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Case

The Two Components of a Successful Personal Injury Lawsuit Are: Liability and Damages


If you have been injured through the negligence of someone else or business entity, the first important step is to establish claims for liability.  That is to say that the person or business responsible for injuring you had a duty of care to avoid certain behavior or a duty to engage in certain behavior and they failed to do so.  These acts or omissions give rise to legal liability in a personal injury claim.  Yet, there is no true recovery in a personal injury case if there are no injuries that lead to actual measurable damages.  This leads to the second and often more tricky component of a personal injury case: Damages.

What Are Damages In A Personal Injury Case?

In a personal injury context, damages simply are the measurable losses that flow naturally from the injuries caused by the negligence of others.  Generally, there are two broad categories of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.  It is a plaintiff's, duty by preponderance of evidence, to prove a measure of damages to a jury.  The plaintiff must show that the damages that he/she complains of naturally flow from the negligent act(s) or omission(s) that injured him/her or there is no causation. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are damages that can be easily quantified.  In most lawsuits, economic damages will be referred to as a major item like compensatory damages.  Compensatory damages are damages like medical bills and expenses, pharmacy or prescription bills, lost wages, or even costs spent on special upgrades necessary when someone has a medical injury that requires special accommodations.  The key factor in compensatory damages is that they are directly measurable and can be presented to a jury as direct evidence of the losses that flow from a plaintiff's injuries.

What Are Ways to Prove Economic Damages

1.  Establish, through competent medical testimony, that the injuries suffered were caused by the negligent acts or omissions.

2.  Provide certified copies of all medical records.

3.  Provide certified copies of all medical bills.

4.  Provide all human resource records that establish missed time from work and the amount of wages lost.

5.  Keep all receipts of prescriptions 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages have no readily available number attached to them. Nonetheless, they are damages that flow from the injuries caused from someone else's negligence.  The most common example of non-economic damages are pain and suffering.  It is important to understand that pain and suffering are two separate items of non-economic damages.  Other examples of non-economic damages may be mental anguish and emotional distress.

These damages are not always easy to prove because they are not readily accessible and subjective by nature.  There is no question that each person responds to trauma differently.  Each person responds to pain differently.  Similarly, people will judge people's suffering differently.  Nonetheless, non-economic damages are inevitably a part of any case in which a plaintiff has been injured and damaged in same way.

What Are Some Ways to Prove Non-Economic Damages

1.  Establish the extent to which the pain from your injuries interfered with your normal course of life

2.  Establish the extent to which the injuries impacted your normal routine, whether work, leisure, or simple house chores.

3.  Discuss any impact the injuries had on simple routine tasks like: eating, sleeping, grooming, or walking.

4. Show that there were visits to any psychotherapist or psychologist to cope with the mental recovery following any accident.

Punitive Damages

Punitive Damages are not available in every case, however, they can be a valuable measure of damages in cases where they are available.  In order to be entitled to punitive damages, a plaintiff must establish punitive liability.  Punitive liability exists when a defendant has engaged in reckless or egregious conduct that falls so far below a standard of care that the conduct should be punished or deterred. An example of punitive liability would be the case of a car accident: the at fault driver causes an accident and is driving under the influence of alcohol.  Georgia law has long recognize, in such an instance, that this would be an example of punitive liability.

When punitive liability exists, the additional measure of damages, punitive damages, is available to a plaintiff.  A jury is authorized to give punitive damages, currently capped at $250,000.00.

Your Lawrenceville Personal Injury Law Firm

If you have been injured and you need a personal injury attorney to help you in your case, give us a call. It is free to ask us any question that you want to ask us about your potential case.  We can help you understand who is responsible for paying the medical bills if you have been injured in accident or we can help you get the most out of your pain and suffering if you have been injured.  We are your Lawrenceville personal injury law firm. Give us a call today for a free consultation.

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