Whether it involves a car accident, slip-and-fall, or defective product, a personal injury case can be painful, extensive, and time-consuming. Knowing what sort of damages you have a right to claim can be useful in how you plan for the future. 

The Most Common Types of Damages

Personal injury cases are generally much more complex than people realize. You can’t just pick an arbitrary number and go after the defendant. In addition to figuring out who is responsible for the incident, you have to determine what damages you can claim. Typically, these damages fall into one or more of the following categories:

Medical Expenses – In most cases, calculating medical expenses is straightforward. They include (but aren’t limited to) hospital bills, ambulance fees, follow-up doctor visits, physical and/or cognitive therapy, consultations with healthcare professionals and specialists, medical accessories and medication, permanent disability, and in-home services.

Lost Wages – If an injury prevents you from fulfilling your job duties and earning your paycheck, it’s also possible to include lost wages in your claim. You must be able to prove that the injuries sustained in the incident have impaired or diminished your ability to earn future money (based on past earnings).

Pain and Suffering – One of the more difficult categories to put a number on is pain and suffering. Legally defined as “mental or physical distress,” these damages are based on the type of injury, the amount of pain suffered, and the prognosis for future pain.

Loss of Affection or Companionship – Also referred to as loss of consortium, the loss of affection or companionship refers to incidents that cause an individual to lose the ability to have a physical/sexual relationship with a spouse or partner. The severity of the impact on the couple typically determines the damages in this category. (Loss of consortium damages are paid directly to the affected spouse, not the injured plaintiff.)

Loss of Enjoyment of Life – In some cases, plaintiffs may also be able to go after loss of enjoyment. This comes into play when the injuries sustained from the accident affect the plaintiff’s ability to enjoy day-to-day activities that were otherwise enjoyed prior to the incident. This includes hobbies, playing with children, and other simple pleasures of life.

Sometimes, attorneys will use different ratios and calculators to come up with a specific dollar amount for damages. Other times, they have to be more meticulous and dig into every minute detail of the case to come up with a fact-specific figure. Finding a legal team that does the latter will likely provide you with better results. 

Understanding How Negligence Laws Work

While there are many different types of damages that can be claimed in a personal injury case, it’s not always as simple as adding up some numbers and claiming that the defendant owes you a lump sum of money. Fault must be determined—as well as any negligence that occurred on the plaintiff’s behalf. 

“If you were partly negligent, your percentage of blame will be factored in to your compensation, and you will only receive a part of your compensation,” Dickson Kohan & Bablove LLP explains. “For example, if you were found 30 percent at fault for your accident, you would only receive 70 percent of your award.”

It’s important to take negligence into account when putting together a claim or case. Just because you’ve sustained a certain financial loss and/or pain and suffering doesn’t mean you’re necessarily entitled to it all (but you may be). By working with an experienced legal team in your area, you can come up with a strategic plan of attack that ensures justice is served.