When you suffer a personal injury that someone else is legally liable for, you deserve full compensation for all your losses. These losses are not limited to medical expenses. They include both tangible and intangible losses ranging from lost earnings to loss of enjoyment of life. An understanding of the components of personal injury compensation can help you estimate the value of your claim.
Economic damages are tangible damages that you can easily count. For example, it’s not especially difficult to calculate your medical expenses by simply adding up your bills. You can count your lost wages by taking the amount of money you earn on a normal workday and multiplying it by the number of days you miss work because of your injury.
It isn’t always that straightforward, of course. If you are permanently disabled, you might not be able to return to work, and you will need to calculate your long-term losses for diminished earning capacity.
Economic damages consist mainly of medical expenses and lost work time. They can also cover out-of-pocket expenses that arise from your injury.
To accurately calculate your medical bills without projecting into the future, you need to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which your doctor certifies that your medical condition has improved as much as it is ever going to. Hopefully, that means you made a full recovery and that you are just as healthy as you were before your accident. Some people, however, face permanent disability with a need for continuing medical treatment.
Keep copies of your medical expenses, either online or in paper form (preferably both). Do keep in mind that the insurance company will likely question any alternative or controversial medical treatments that you receive. Even widespread practices such as acupuncture or chiropractic services might encounter resistance from an insurance company.
Anticipated Future Medical Expenses
Suppose that you suffer from long-term injuries even after you reach MMI. Alternatively, suppose that the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit is looming and you still haven’t reached MMI. In that case, you might need to claim damages for medical treatment for decades to come. You will need to estimate your future medical expenses, which isn’t so straightforward.
If your injuries are extensive, you might need to resort to expert testimony to prove the extent of your anticipated future medical expenses. If you go to trial, you can use your expert witness to testify.
If you file a lawsuit but never reach trial, your expert can testify in a deposition. Persuasive testimony will help convince the opposing party to settle the case on your terms. Even if you never file a lawsuit, you can still have your expert prepare a written report that can be persuasive in settlement negotiations.
How much work time did you miss because of your injury? Even if you took sick leave or personal leave to cover the time you had to miss work, you still lost those resources because you could have used them at some other time.
If you are an employee who is being paid a set monthly salary or set hourly wage, it’s relatively easy to calculate your lost earnings. Just determine the amount of money that you make on the average workday and multiply that by the number of days you missed.
The calculation is a bit more difficult, however, if you are a salesperson paid by commission. You might have to take your average monthly commission and divide that by your number of average monthly work days to arrive at a daily average commission.
If you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur, you might have to take into account lost business opportunities, such as meetings you had to cancel because of your injury. You can also use past tax returns to help establish your average annual income. Your lawyer can help you develop a persuasive case for lost earnings under the circumstances.
Diminished Earning Capacity
If you sustain a long-term or permanent disability, you might never be able to return to your previous occupations. Alternatively, you might find that you can only work part-time instead of full-time. In a worst-case scenario, you might find that you’re unable to ever work again and that you must retire because of your accident. Under all of these circumstances, you will need to calculate the value of your diminished earning capacity.
It is absolutely critical that you get this one right. Even though it is possible that you might be attempting to calculate your lost earnings decades in advance, if you underestimate the amount that you need, you could run out of money many years from now. By then, it will be too late to ask for more.
Seek help from an expert who can determine the present value of your diminished earning capacity from now until retirement age. The younger you are, the more money you will probably qualify for.
Your out-of-pocket expenses can include child care, household services, and treatment-related travel expenses. it can include any reasonable expense that you would not have incurred if your accident had not occurred. Your lawyer can probably help you think of items that you never would have thought to claim damages for.
Non-economic damages are losses that are intangible, primarily psychological in nature. Naturally, these damages are quite difficult to value. Nevertheless, in many personal injury cases, they add up to far more than the total amount of economic damages. Following is a description of some of them.
Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” refers to your physical, mental, and emotional suffering as a result of your injuries. This might mean physical pain, for example, or it might mean something mental anguish or emotional distress. No two people will suffer the exact same sorts of pain and suffering consequences, but they are all generally compensable – especially if there is a physical injury.
Suppose you lose the use of your arm. In that case, you deserve compensation for the loss of its use.
Suppose you have a limb amputated because of your injuries. Alternatively, suppose that you suffer extensive facial scarring. You deserve compensation that exceeds the amount of the medical bills that you had to pay.
Loss of Capacity for Enjoyment of Life
Suppose that you are confined to a wheelchair after your accident or that you walk with a limp. Suppose further that you were an avid jogger or bodybuilder. Perhaps many of your friendships revolved around hobbies that your injuries no longer allow you to pursue. This state of affairs can justify compensation for loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.
Florida courts award punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, when the defendant’s behavior was outrageous. When courts award punitive damages, they add them on to economic and non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are not often awarded in personal injury cases. However, your lawyer can help determine whether they may be appropriate based on the facts of your situation.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
If someone else’s misconduct caused you injury, you probably have a personal injury claim against them. Claims do not enforce themselves, however. You can try to enforce your claim on your own, of course. Ultimately, however, your results are likely to be much better if you hire a Florida personal injury lawyer.