Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits Reflect Settlement Awards
In this post, we examine personal injury damages. We discuss common personal injury damages, how they are calculated and what effect they may have on the case. We also examine how personal injury damage calculation will affect the amount of a lawsuit loan approval, if requested.
Different Types of Damages
At the most basic level, personal injury damages are either compensatory or punitive. Compensatory damages are meant to “compensate” for losses. Punitive damages are an effort to punish the wrongdoer and serve as deterrent to others. The most common type is compensatory. Since punitive damages are rare, we will focus only on compensatory damages in this post.
Compensatory Personal Injury Damages
Compensatory damages are usually economic or non-economic in nature. Economic damages cost you money. Non-economic don’t necessarily cost you money but are no less damaging.
Economic Personal Injury Damages
Obviously, economic personal injury damages are a calculation of how to financially compensate injured plaintiffs. The most common type of economic damages are medical bills and lost income. Medical bills include co-payments and out of pocket expenses. Lost income includes any money the plaintiff would have earned but couldn’t because of injuries.
Non-Economic Personal Injury Damages
Non-economic damages are a little less straight forward in terms of calculation than economic damages which can be proven using documentation such as medical bills, checks and statements of account. Non-economic damages attempt to compensate for the plaintiff’s physical pain and suffering. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Since pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment cannot be assigned a specific financial value, they are subjective in nature. That is, the compensation varies from case to case. Juries are instructed to calculate the severity of injury, differences in the plaintiff’s lifestyle as compared to prior to the accident, etc. when considering a monetary amount for personal injury damages.
How Negligence Standards Affect Damages
In states that have comparative negligence standard, plaintiffs can still recover even if they were partially at-fault for the accident. There are two types of comparative negligence standard which courts utilize:
- Pure Comparative Negligence – plaintiff can recover 1% of the damages amount even if they are 99% at fault for the accident. That is, an award is reduced by the amount of fault assessed to the plaintiff.
- Modified Comparative Negligence – reduces any recovery by the amount at fault but also requires the plaintiff to not be more than 50% (or 51% depending on the jurisdiction) at fault for the accident.
Contrast comparative negligence standards with contributory negligence. Contributory negligence bars recovery if a plaintiff’s percentage fault is even 1%.
The vast majority of states utilize the modified comparative fault rule as applied to personal injury damages. Only a handful of states utilize the contributory negligence rule.
What Factors Can Affect Damages?
Every personal injury case is unique. Yet some of the same situations show up all the time. Each can have a significant impact upon the amount of compensatory personal injury damages a particular plaintiff will likely recover. The factors that can significantly impact settlement amounts can include:
- the seriousness and permanency of your medical/physical condition
- available insurance coverage with high enough limits to adequately compensate a plaintiff
- liability and/or the ability to prove it
- strength of plaintiff’s credibility as a witness (and the credibility of other witnesses)
Since personal injury lawsuits make up the majority of lawsuit loans, we briefly examined damages in this post. Since the amount of a lawsuit loan approval depends upon a subjective determination of the likely settlement value of a lawsuit, a discussion of damages is a must. We trust this brief introduction into this in depth topic will help clarify some funding questions which routinely and consistently surface as our clients navigate the process. As always, all legal topics offered herein are for informational purposes only and are subject to our disclaimer.
Thank you for your interest in lawsuit funding.