One of the most crucial questions when filing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit is how much compensation you can receive.
As a starting point, it’s helpful to understand how compensation is computed. However, this might not be easy, especially if you’re dealing with a personal injury lawsuit. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the U.S. legal system is well-known for its complexity.
To make things a bit simpler, we’ve compiled a guide for determining compensation for a personal injury case.
What Is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law, otherwise known as tort law, deals with cases in which somebody is harmed or injured because of the negligence of another party. In contrast to criminal law, where the government brings charges against an individual, this is under civil law in which a private party sues another. In many of these cases, the injury was not caused by criminal activity but rather by negligence. Accident victims may be able to receive fair compensation for medical costs or lost wages through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
In many cases, claims are settled outside the court. Instead of going to trial, the parties and their personal injury attorneys work out an agreement. If the case proceeds to trial, it will be heard by a judge and jury or only a judge.It will be their responsibility to determine the degree to which each party is responsible and how much compensation should be awarded.
What Are the Types of Cases?
Since personal injury claims encompass a wide variety of situations, they account for most of the civil litigation.
Here are the different types of personal injury cases:
1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the country’s leading cause of personal injury claims. Any time a motor vehicle accident occurs in New York City, it’s almost always because a driver didn’t follow traffic laws or wasn’t taking the necessary precautions.
When a negligent motorist causes an accident, personal injury accident victims can hold that person liable for their injuries and financial losses. However, there are exceptions in the form of “no-fault” states, where drivers must collect from their own insurers unless there are serious injuries.
If you or your loved one has been involved in a car accident in New York City, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation.
2. Medical Malpractice
Patients might sustain serious injuries due to the carelessness of medical professionals, such as doctors, hospitals, nurses, and other healthcare workers. Surgical errors, improper treatment, misdiagnosis, birth injury, pharmacy errors, and medication mistakes are just a few examples of medical malpractice. Suing for medical malpractice is a complicated process best handled by a medical malpractice lawyer.
3. Wrongful Death
If someone is killed in New York City because of somebody else’s negligence, a lawsuit known as a “wrongful death” may be filed. Construction accidents, vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, and nursing home neglect are among the most common causes of wrongful death lawsuits. A wrongful death claim can recover damages not accessible in other types of personal injury cases. They can be a bit tricky, that’s why having personal injuries lawyers on your side can be a great help.
4. Workplace Accidents
The scope of workplace injury claims extends much beyond the compensation that an employer provides to workers injured on the job. In case of a workplace accident, rules governing workers’ compensation are in place to protect their rights. However, these laws might vary depending on the state. Because of this, worker’s compensation claims can be challenging to handle without the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
5. Premises Liability
The term “premises liability” refers to accidents that occur on someone else’s property because of a dangerous or faulty condition. From commercial establishments like grocery shops and restaurants to private residences and public swimming pools, these accidents can happen anywhere.
A wide variety of unsafe or substandard conditions might lead to a premises liability lawsuit, including stumbling over an obstruction or tripping over a puddle in a hallway or aisle. In this type of lawsuit, the insurance company will find ways to pay less for your injuries. For this reason, it’s best to have a personal injury lawyer negotiate for your cause.
6. Products Liability
Dangerous or malfunctioning products pose a risk of catastrophic injury not only in the workplace but also at home and in public spaces. Accidents can also be caused by insufficient warnings and erroneous operating instructions. Dangerous pharmaceuticals, food, consumer goods, children’s items, and defective auto parts and medical devices are examples of harmful products, as are toxic substances and chemicals.
Individuals, companies, or government agencies can all be held liable if they sold, developed, produced, or promoted a faulty or harmful product. Consulting a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is essential if you’ve been injured by a dangerous product and need help determining who’s at fault.
7. Dog Bites
As a general rule, dog owners are financially accountable for any damages caused by their pets. However, laws on the owner’s responsibility differ from state to state. Therefore, it’s difficult to generalize.
Stringent liability laws apply in some states, and the petowner may be held accountable for damages caused by the dog’s bite even though the dog has never exhibited any signs of hostility or a tendency to bite. Others have “one bite” laws, which indicate that owners are only liable for personal injuries if they have reason to believe their dog is hostile, predisposed to biting, or has bitten in the past.
Getting involved in an animal attack can result in post-traumatic stress disorder and emotional distress. As such, a personal injury lawyer can assist you so you can focus on your recovery.
8. Libel and Slander
This type of defamation occurs when false claims are made about a person harming their image. A defamation plaintiff’s burden of proof will differ based on the plaintiff’s identity and the venue in which the alleged defamatory statement was made. In most cases, the average person only needs to show that a false claim was made, leading to financial damages.
On the other hand, public figures are required to establish “actual malice.” In other words, they must prove that the false claim was made on purpose or with reckless contempt for the truth. Defamation lawsuits can be arduous and having a personal injury lawyer to advocate for you on your behalf can truly help.
9. Class action lawsuits
Lawsuits can be filed if several people are injured by a hazardous product or tragic event. Rather than filing separate lawsuits, a personal injury lawyer or law firm will file and defend a single case on behalf of all victims. Potentially negligent parties are being sued to secure monetary reparations for everyone affected by the accident.
What Compensation Can You Receive?
As the plaintiff in a personal injury claim, you have the right to seek compensation from the party or parties responsible for your injuries, property damage, or other losses. In legal terminology, this reparation is referred to as “damages.” Damages can be agreed upon by the parties involved in a negotiation or determined by a court of law in a civil trial. If you decide to file a New York personal injury claim, the following types of compensation may be available to you:
Compensatory damages are meant to reimburse you for the losses you have suffered as a result of your personal injury. To be eligible for compensatory damages, the accident victim must show that they suffered losses that may be traced back to the party who was at fault. For the jury or court to accept the injured party’s claim, they must be able to measure how much the plaintiff has lost financially. Compensatory damages can be broken down into the following:
Known as “special compensatory damages,” this type of compensation for personal injury involves quantifiable expenses. When you receive economic damages, you are essentially compensated for the costs you incurred because of the personal injury, such as lost wages or medical bills. They are distinct to each victim and might differ greatly from one person to the next. An injured party can sue for as much or as little as they choose, and there are no limits to the types of special damages that can be claimed.
Personal injury damages often include the cost of accident-related medical treatment and rehabilitation.
This covers recompense for past medical care as well as payment for the expected cost of future medical care as a result of the accident.
When an accident has a negative impact on your employment and income, you may be able to receive compensation for both the money you’ve lost and the amount you would have earned had the accident not occurred.
“Loss of earning capacity” is the legal term used to describe recompense for a personal injury victim’s future income.
If the accident caused any damage to your property, whether it be vehicles, clothing, or electronics, you may be eligible to collect recompense for the cost of repairs or for the item’s fair market value.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to quantify because they are not accompanied by any receipt or objective proof of the harm done.
1. Pain and Suffering
Damages for pain and suffering you had in the days following an accident may be available to you. You may also be compensated for continued pain linked to the accident.
2. Emotional Distress
Emotional distress damages, which are usually associated with more severe accidents, are intended to compensate a victim for the mental toll of a personal injury, such as dread, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep deprivation.
There are a few states that include emotional distress under pain and suffering.
3. Loss of Enjoyment of Life
If your injuries prevent you from engaging in normal day-to-day activities, including interests, sports, and other recreational activities, you may be eligible for compensation under “loss of enjoyment.”
4. Loss of Consortium
Compensation for “loss of consortium” is awarded when a victim’s injuries have a negative influence on their marriage. This may include the incapacity to have sex or loss of companionship.
Depending on the state, parents and children’s relationships may also be taken into account when somebody is injured. There are also cases where recompense is directly given to a victim’s family members instead of the injured individual.
On top of compensatory damages, a personal injury victim may be eligible for punitive damages if the negligent party’s conduct is deemed extremely severe or excessively reckless. This type of damage is based on different reasoning than compensatory damages, which aim to help personal injury accident victims recover and restore their way of life.
Although punitive damages help compensate victims, they are meant to punish the negligent party for their actions and serve as a deterrent. Punitive damage awards can exceed millions of dollars; hence most states have enacted legislation restricting the amount that can be granted in these cases.
Factors To Determine How Much Compensation You Will Receive
After suffering a personal injury, you will need to focus on various aspects of recovery, each of which is critical to achieving your ultimate objective of returning to your normal life. The most important thing to do when you’ve been injured is to have a fair evaluation of your claim’s worth. Ideally, you’d like to determine the value of your claim and any factors that may have an impact on its worth.
You may also be curious how exactly these factors influence the settlement amount that you will receive. To gain a better understanding of your claim’s weaknesses and strengths, you need to recognize the aspects that might affect the value of your award.
#1. Was the Person Negligent
Negligent behavior is a major element when it comes to personal injury cases. When someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing results in the needless death or injury of another, the offender could be held legally accountable.
The injured party must demonstrate that the defendant behaved negligently by proving the following four elements:
- Duty: Under the circumstances, the one party owed a legal duty of care to the victim.
- Breach: This legal duty was breached by that party when they acted or failed to act in a given way.
- Causation: It was the actions or inactions of the negligent party that were ultimately responsible for the victim’s injury.
- Damages: Because of the negligent activities of the other party, the victim sustained some kind of injury or damage.
When filing a claim with an insurance provider or a lawsuit in the courts, all these elements need to be documented and established.
#2. Did You Suffer Any Injuries?
There must be evidence that the victim suffered injuries to their body or property because of the negligent party’s action or inaction, and that proof must be shown in court. As mentioned earlier, If you want to sue another person or organization for negligence, you must show that the injury or damage you sustained was directly caused by their wrongdoing. Causation can be divided into two categories.
The first type is “factual cause,” in which the negligent act can be clearly linked to your personal injury. For instance, when a car hits a pedestrian in a car accident, the actions of the driver are the factual cause of the victim’s injuries. However, there are times when it is difficult to establish the factual cause. This is particularly true when the activities of multiple parties are under consideration and each participant holds some level of blame.
The “proximate cause” may be established in such situations. When a reasonably close connection between an injury and a negligent act can be found, this is referred to as proximate causation. Liability is determined by considering a number of factors, including logic, policy, fairness, and practicality, when applying proximate causation.
#3. Was There Shared Fault?
If you’ve been injured, it’s crucial to determine who is at fault. There are instances where reparations in a personal injury claim may be reduced if the injured party contributed to the accident.
If you’re even somewhat to blame for the accident that resulted in your injuries, any compensation you receive will likely reflect that. This is due to the “comparative negligence” rule that most states follow, which relates damages to the percentage of fault.
Personal injury lawsuits in a few states are subject to a rule known as “contributory negligence,” which prevents victims who are found partially at fault from recovering damages.
#4. Were There Any Medical Expenses?
After getting hurt in an accident, you will almost certainly seek medical attention. Then if you decide to pursue legal action for personal injury, you have the right to seek compensation for the cost of treatment and rehabilitation.
For the most part, this will cover all the medical bills involved with your accident, both immediate and long-term. Even when an insurance company paid for some of the treatment, you can normally claim all healthcare costs.
If you sustain a long-term medical condition that requires a lot of therapy, this can quickly pile up. Because of this, personal injury documentation for legal purposes must be meticulous in assessing damages accurately and not overlook any out-of-pocket expenses.
Some examples of common medical costs that you can document and recover in a personal injury case are:
- Family physician bills
- Hospital bills
- Laboratory fees
- Physical therapy bills
- Prescription medication costs
- Pain management treatment costs
- Surgery costs
- Other doctor bills
Remember that future medical expenses can be claimed as part of a personal injury case. However, you can only claim future medical expenditures if they are related to your initial injury. If you haven’t undergone surgery yet but intend to do so soon, you can claim it as future medical bills during the trial. In court, you’ll need to show proof of your medical costs supporting the amount you’re claiming.
As for the reasonableness of your medical bills, an expert witness or an attending physician may be required to testify. Medical witnesses may also be needed to support your claim that your treatment was connected to the accident.
#5. How Much Evidence Is Available?
Identifying the most relevant evidence is critical for personal injury victims who intend to go to trial in pursuit of financial compensation for their losses. “Physical evidence” can sometimes be used to prove or at least support an accident’s liability.
In contrast to a narrative of what occurred, this is something you can actually see or feel. These objects may include anything from a weapon to a real thing that the courtroom could examine. Clothes, tools, equipment, cars, and even weather patterns observed through meteorological phenomena provide additional proof.
Having physical evidence on hand might also demonstrate the extent and type of your personal injury. For instance, ripped or bloodied clothes and damage to a vehicle can be used to indicate the severity of a car accident.
Evidence that isn’t photographed or kept within a few days of a car accident can be lost, altered, damaged, or restored. As a result, if you have any physical evidence, it needs to be preserved in the same condition as when the accident happened. As a last resort, you can take pictures or videos of any piece of physical evidence that you can’t preserve. Using photographs taken on site of the car accident to support a claim of negligence is also possible.
The vast majority of evidence supporting personal injury lawsuits can be found in the form of paperwork. Documents such as medical records and necessary insurance forms are examples of what might be included in this category. They also come in statements, incident reports, and bills.
In addition, a witness who was present at the scene of the accident can help raise awareness of the injuries during the trial. The testimony of these witnesses can be leveraged to support a claim for damages against the other party.
Just like in any other legal proceeding, there must be enough evidence to hold the party at fault legally liable for their actions in personal injury litigation. That being said, you cannot simply provide any proof to win. The evidence needs to be more compelling than the opposing side, otherwise known as a preponderance of evidence.
Hire the Pagan Law Firm Today
Accidents can happen regardless of how cautious we are in our everyday life. These are frequently the result of events beyond our control, particularly when they are brought on by the carelessness or wrongdoing of other people or organizations.
If you’ve been involved in an accident due to somebody else’s fault, you deserve compensation for your injuries. At The Pagan Law Firm, P.C., our experienced personal injury lawyers will be by your side to fight for the compensation you deserve. They can guide you in developing your case and communicating with the opposite party to reach a fair settlement. If your claim goes to court, our personal injury lawyers will advocate for you and your case to the best of their ability.
Even though the legal process requires time and perseverance on your part, an experienced personal injury lawyer can guide you in navigating the country’s complicated legal system and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
Get in touch with us today.