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3 Different Types of Damages and How they are Determined

In cheesy courtroom scenes on TV and in movies, you will usually see a person who is bringing a lawsuit against another person declare that they expect a large dollar amount and then simply prove that they were harmed by the defendant. However, in a personal injury case, in proving that you are injured and the extent of those injuries, it is important to demonstrate that you’ve been harmed by the negligence or recklessness of another person and then determine a dollar amount that fairly and adequately compensates you.

Rather than simply inventing an arbitrary amount that you feel you are owed, it is necessary to separate your damages into categories. Here are some of the damages you can claim and how you can calculate them:

Medical Bills from Sustained Injuries

Typically, the initial step in evaluating your damages due to an accident is to examine the medical bills stemming from your accident-related injuries. Those bills not only include fire rescue and hospital bills incurred immediately after the accident, it also includes chiropractic care, physical therapy, diagnostic testing and medical procedures, such as injections or surgery. This is fairly straight forward to calculate.

However, you are also entitled to compensation for future medical expenses, which can be proven through your medical expert’s testimony regarding the need for future treatment.

Lost Wages

Lost wages is another type of compensable damage that is not complicated to calculate. If you miss time from work due to an injury caused by a third-party, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. If injuries related to an accident are so severe that you can no longer work or your ability to work has been drastically diminished, you may also be entitled to compensation for loss of future earning capacity. These type of damages are calculated by utilizing a formula which reduces such damages to their present value to account for inflation. Typically, your attorney will hire an accounting expert to illustrate this formula to the jury.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages are more complicated to prove that those listed above, since pain and suffering is not based on tangible evidence that the jury can touch and see, such as medical records or tax returns. Rather, pain and suffering are damages that compensate an injury victim based on the accident’s effect on their ability to enjoy life and activities they enjoyed before the accident. These damages provide the jury an opportunity to send a message to the defendant for being careless.