Reports | July 13, 2023 | Personal Injury
After a devastating car accident, motorcycle accident, or another type of personal injury, you may face months of recovery. During that time, the bills add up. You cannot work, might stay in the hospital for several procedures, and are unsure how to make ends meet. When the bills start coming in, you worry even more about what to do.
In many situations, injury victims can obtain economic damages for their losses. Damages refer to the compensation you might receive from the party that caused you injuries. You may not know whether you can recover such compensation and where to begin.
The best way to know your rights to damages is to work closely with a local personal injury attorney. They handle cases like yours daily and can assess your options. Once you hire an injury lawyer, they will handle the entire process of seeing compensation, so you do not need to continually stress about your finances.
Never wait to set up a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer near you.
Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law protects people who have suffered harm or injuries due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions. Because you cannot go back in time and prevent the accident from happening or reverse injuries, the law provides monetary compensation as legal recourse for victims.
The following form the basic elements of a personal injury claim:
- Someone owed you a duty of care
- That party breached the duty of care
- Their breach caused the accident and your injuries
- You suffered compensable damages
An injury attorney can advise whether your situation qualifies for a personal injury claim.
Many situations can lead to these claims, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bike accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boat accidents
- Slip and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Dangerous products or medications
Each case involves proving that the defendant’s negligence or misconduct caused an injury, so they should compensate the victim for their damages.
Personal injury law aims to provide justice and compensation to those who wrongfully suffered injuries. If you believe you have a personal injury claim, consult a skilled personal injury lawyer to understand your rights and learn more about the damages you might receive.
What Are Damages?
Damages are the losses you have experienced due to someone else’s negligence in a personal injury case. When you file a personal injury claim, you must state the amount of money you seek for various losses. These are your claimed damages.
The goal of damages is to make a person whole. We know money is inadequate to accomplish this in many situations. You might have life-changing injuries, disabilities, and disfigurement, and you might never feel whole again. At the very least, monetary damages can provide financial support and a sense of justice for all you suffered and lost.
There are different categories of damages under the law:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive or exemplary damages
The most straightforward category is economic damages, which compensate for your financial costs and losses. However, identifying and proving all your economic damages can still require jumping through difficult legal hoops. Your attorney will seek compensation for all your economic damages in your injury claim.
Examples of Economic Damages
One of your first steps in a personal injury claim is to outline your specific economic damages. Your lawyer knows what questions to ask and documents to review to account for all your financial losses. The following are some common economic damages.
After a severe accident, you likely have significant medical bills. Some begin to flood your inbox in the weeks after an accident. Others may take months to realize if you need ongoing treatment.
Your economic damages should include all of your medical costs arising from the accident. Even if you had a $20 copay for one follow-up appointment, you should include it.
Some medical bills that injury victims commonly claim include:
- Emergency transportation: It can cost you thousands if you need an ambulance ride and trauma care on the way to the hospital. The ambulance service might charge them separately from your hospital bill.
- Emergency room costs: Emergency rooms are expensive but often necessary resources. If you need immediate treatment for potentially serious injuries, you will receive emergency room bills.
- Inpatient medical care: If doctors admit you to the hospital, you will have bills for the room, boarding, and all your treatment needs during that time.
- Surgical procedures: Surgery due to the accident can substantially increase your overall medical bills. However, surgical bills can be a bit confusing. The surgeon may charge separately from the anesthesiologist and other medical care providers. You may also have a medical bill for the surgical operating room and all the care you receive pre- and post-op in the hospital.
- Lab costs: Even if you receive care within the hospital, a lab will bill you for test processing separately. This may include many diagnostic costs, including blood work, CT scans, MRIs, etc.
- Medication: Your medications, including those you receive during the hospital stay and those you take at home, also have separate bills in most situations.
- Pain management therapy: After a severe accident, many people must continue pain management treatment for some time, which may include physical therapy, medications, and other holistic care. All of this results in bills.
- Rehabilitation: Some injuries might require you to stay in an inpatient rehab and nursing facility, which has a high daily cost. Other times, you can go home, but you need to attend regular physical and occupational therapy appointments.
- Transportation: You should include transportation costs to and from all your doctor and therapy appointments in your economic damages.
- Ongoing medical care: Consider every follow-up appointment with your doctor, specialists, and additional procedures you need.
- Medical supplies: Do you need a wheelchair or other medical assistive equipment? You may need breathing devices, oxygen, supportive tools throughout your home to prevent you from falling, or a ramp on your home. Some medical equipment is temporary and cheaper, while long-term medical equipment, like electric wheelchairs, is much more expensive.
- Treatment for complications: If you develop a complication after initial treatment, perhaps an infection, or need a revision procedure, those costs should be part of your medical expenses.
Medical treatment needs vary widely, so you might have many other medical expenses. Remember that you can recover compensation for any medical cost of the accident or the resulting care.
Future Medical Expenses
Some injuries require ongoing treatment beyond your claim resolution, possibly for the rest of your life. You can also seek compensation for your future medical bills, but how do you know how much to expect?
Calculating future medical bills in a personal injury claim requires careful consideration of various factors. These may include the severity of the injury, the prognosis for recovery, and the anticipated cost of necessary medical treatments, therapies, medications, and potential surgeries. Expert opinions from healthcare professionals and medical specialists can help estimate future medical expenses.
Additionally, your lawyer should consider factors like inflation and potential complications. An experienced personal injury lawyer can work with medical experts and economists to assess these future costs and ensure they are part of the overall calculation of your economic damages.
Lost Wages and Income
You are out of work due to the accident. Perhaps you spent time in the hospital or recovering at home and missed work. Maybe you have limitations from your injuries that prevent you from performing your job. Your doctor might also order you to rest to protect your health following surgery or a brain injury. You may not work for some time as you heal, and some people never work again following a catastrophic injury.
If you cannot earn your usual income because of the accident, for any reason, you can seek economic damages for your lost earnings.
- Bonuses you expected
- Future projected lost earnings
Calculating your past lost income requires pay statements and other employment records. If you have a disabling injury and can no longer work, calculating your future lost income is more challenging. Your lawyer can hire economic and occupational experts to calculate and provide evidence of your future lost earning ability.
Property Repair and Damage
The accident totaled your car. Your laptop, children’s car seat, and other items in your vehicle suffered damage in your car. You need to replace these items, and it all costs money. You can include all of these bills as economic damages.
Lost property in the accident should always be a part of your economic damage claim, and your lawyer can consider:
- The value of your car or the item at the time of the incident
- Any customizations you have on the vehicle
- The sentimental value of items
Your personal injury attorney can present the bills and repair or replacement estimates to seek compensation for all your property damage.
Proving Your Economic Damages
You might think your economic damages are straightforward, with little room for dispute. However, insurance companies regularly question certain economic damages. An adjuster might allege you didn’t need all of the treatment you received or you should have returned to work sooner. You might need to present professional opinions to prove your treatment and time off were necessary for your physical recovery.
Your attorney can handle all communication with insurers and provide sufficient evidence to support your claim.
Here are key types of evidence that can help establish your economic losses:
- Medical bills and records – Your attorney will gather all relevant medical documents, including invoices, receipts, and reports detailing your medical treatments, surgeries, therapies, and medications. These records demonstrate the actual costs incurred for your healthcare needs.
- Pay stubs and employment records – You will provide documentation of your pre-injury earnings, such as pay stubs, tax returns, or employment contracts. This helps establish your baseline income and the financial impact of your injuries on your ability to work.
- Expert opinions – Expert witnesses, such as economists or vocational experts, can assess the impact of your injuries on your earning capacity. They can provide testimony on your diminished ability to work, potential loss of future earnings, and related economic damages.
- Business records – If you’re self-employed or a business owner, you can provide relevant financial documents, such as profit and loss statements, tax returns, and business expense records. These records help establish your loss of income and business-related damages.
- Invoices and receipts – Keep records of all out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury, including costs for medication, medical equipment, transportation to medical appointments, home modifications, and household help during your recovery.
Properly documenting and preserving this evidence is crucial. An experienced attorney can gather the necessary evidence and present it effectively to prove your economic losses and seek appropriate compensation for your financial hardships. If insurers offer less than you deserve for economic losses, your lawyer will negotiate for the full amount you deserve.
Overwhelmed? Work With a Personal Injury Attorney to Seek Full Economic Damages
Even with bills and receipts, it can be difficult to know how much you lost due to an accident and injuries. Insurance companies will not simply agree to pay any amount you demand; you must present supporting evidence and face any challenges from the insurer. A personal injury lawyer is the best resource to ensure your compensation covers all your losses.
Your compensation goes well beyond economic losses, as you likely deserve non-economic damages for pain and suffering, among others. You can put all of these considerations and calculations in the hands of your lawyer. This allows you to focus on your medical treatment and the challenges of your injuries, knowing a skilled legal professional is handling your claim.
Working with a personal injury attorney in Gainesville increases your chances of obtaining fair compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. They provide the legal experience, advocacy, and support you need to navigate the complexities of your personal injury claim.