The field of personal injury law exists to provide relief and justice to those who've been injured due to another party's negligence or intentional actions. Central to this process is the concept of personal injury compensation or civil damages. These are financial awards granted to plaintiffs (the injured parties) to cover losses they have experienced due to their injuries.
Understanding Civil Damages: Compensatory Damages
Civil damages come in several forms, each designed to address a specific type of loss. While each personal injury case is unique, they commonly include the following types of damages:
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the injured party for the actual costs associated with their injury. They are further subdivided into two categories: special damages and general damages.
- Special Damages: These are economic losses that are calculable and often supported by documentation like medical bills or lost wages. This includes compensation for the cost of medical treatment, lost income, and any future loss of earning capacity.
- General Damages: These represent non-economic losses, which are less tangible and harder to quantify. Pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life fall into this category. The value of these damages is often determined by multiplying the special damages by a certain number, known as the "multiplier," which reflects the severity of the injury.
Understanding Civil Damages: Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are designed to provide additional compensation for particularly negligent acts.
- Punitive: designed to punish the defendant for egregious behavior and to deter others from similar conduct. They are not tied to the actual loss suffered by the plaintiff but are related to the nature of the defendant's actions. Punitive damages are not awarded in every case, but when they are, they can significantly increase the total compensation amount.
Personal Injury Compensation Claim Process
A personal injury compensation claim often begins with the injured party contacting a personal injury lawyer to evaluate their case. The lawyer will consider the nature of the injury, the circumstances leading to it, the level of negligence involved, and the economic and non-economic damages suffered.
- Settlement or Lawsuit: The lawyer will then typically attempt to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party's insurance company. If a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, the lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit.
- Litigation: In court, the injured party (the plaintiff) must prove that the other party (the defendant) was negligent or intentionally harmful and that this behavior resulted in the injury. The plaintiff will also present evidence of their damages to justify their compensation claim.
The court, or in some cases a jury, will then decide whether the defendant was indeed responsible and, if so, the number of damages to award. This process can be lengthy and complex, often requiring expert testimony, comprehensive documentation, and robust legal strategy.
Contact a personal injury law office like Maxwell Law Firm to learn more.