What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
As the victim of a personal injury, you may recover significant monetary damages through a lawsuit or insurance claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Florida
can handle the process of getting that money for you. Here’s an overview of the damages a lawyer could obtain for you.
Medical expenses often constitute a significant portion of a personal injury claim. The cost of medical treatment of even a relatively minor injury can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Care for severe injuries can be many times higher. The burden of large, unplanned medical expenses constitutes a leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States. The law generally entitles personal injury victims to receive payment for the full amount of the medical care they need to treat their immediate injuries. They’re also entitled to claim compensation for the cost of future medical care they may need for expected health complications resulting from their injury.
The cost of emergency medical care can quickly hit thousands of dollars. For example, the average ambulance ride without insurance
alone can cost as much as $1,277. And the average cost of an emergency room visit
runs around $2,500. Even if an urgent care center can treat your injuries, you may spend hundreds of dollars for a single visit. Unfortunately, you don’t usually have a choice about getting emergency medical care. By definition, it’s the sort of treatment you need immediately to protect your health or save your life. The cost of that care usually only comes into the picture later, when you get a huge bill that you’ll struggle to pay.
Acute and Long-Term Injury Treatment
Beyond initial treatment in a hospital emergency room, the cost of caring for an injury can balloon to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The average cost of treatment for an injury varies depending on the injury type and severity. Surgical treatment for a broken leg
, for example, may cost between $17,000 and $35,000, depending on geographic area and the extent of the patient’s needs. The cost of hospital treatment for a traumatic brain injury
can reach more than $400,000. The longer a patient spends in the hospital during treatment and the more procedures the patient needs, the higher those costs will rise. Common escalators for injury treatment costs include, for example, surgeries, specialized or experimental treatments, use of cutting edge equipment, and days spent in an intensive care or burn unit. As an injured individual, you might have some control over these costs, but not a lot. Few people have the ability or opportunity to shop around for the lowest cost medical treatment. Those that try often find the process hopelessly complicated and resistant to their efforts. It’s the unfortunate reality of the American healthcare system that, for the most part, patients are at the whim of medical providers and insurance companies when it comes to the cost of their care.
Many injuries require therapy for the patient to achieve a maximum level of medical recovery. Three categories of therapy commonly play a role in the treatment of an injury.
- Physical therapy can help strengthen the injured area of the body, increase flexibility, and manage pain, promoting a quicker and more complete healing process.
- Occupational therapy can provide a patient with skills to overcome the challenges associated with permanent or long-term injuries, so that they can return to work or live independently.
- Psychotherapies assist injured individuals with addressing emotional difficulties linked to their trauma, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Like other injury care services, therapy can be expensive. Not all types of therapy are covered by insurance, either. Individuals who participate in therapy as part of their injury treatment commonly end up receiving bills totaling many thousands of dollars.
Medication and Medical Equipment
Prescription and over-the-counter medications also make up a substantial proportion of the costs of treating personal injuries. Those expenses can run especially high if the patient needs, for example, IV medications to treat an infection or brand name drugs to address the effects of internal injuries. Durable medical equipment can also drive up costs. Wheelchairs and prosthetics, for instance, can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Even simple items like walkers or canes sell at an elevated cost. And patients who use medical equipment also commonly need to make modifications to their living quarters, like installing wheelchair ramps or bathroom grab bars, to ensure their safety and assist in living independently.
Anticipated Future Medical Needs
The recoverable costs associated with treating your injury aren’t just the ones you’ve already incurred or that need paying today. They also include expenses you can reasonably anticipate facing in the future because of your injuries and any health complications likely to stem from them. Lawyers routinely work with medical and financial experts to estimate these costs, to ensure that their clients will always have the financial support they need to confront injury-related life and health challenges.
Lost Income and Work Benefits
Personal injuries can keep you out of work, resulting in significant financial strain. These financial losses, including your lost income and job benefits while healing from your injuries, constitute damages for which you can usually receive compensation.
Time Out of Work While Healing or Attending to the Injury
You generally have the right to receive compensation for any financial losses tied to missing work while you healed or attended to your injury (such as by going to medical appointments). This includes the value of:
- Income you did not earn
- Job benefits you did not receive or accrue
- Paid-time-off (vacation or sick days) you used
The amount of compensation due will depend on your earnings and the nature of the work you do. But regardless of your occupation, your lost income and job benefits can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Future Impact of Injury-Related Disability
An injury that leaves you temporarily or permanently disabled can also impact your future earnings. You generally will receive compensation for those anticipated financial losses also. They could include:
- Income and benefits you will not earn while a disability keeps you out of work entirely
- Income and benefits you will not earn while a disability limits your hours or the jobs you can do
- Future earning or career opportunities your disability will prevent you from having
As with calculating future healthcare costs, lawyers often work with medical and financial experts to estimate the impact of a disability on your future income. It’s common for these losses to reach tens of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the duration and limitations of your disability.
Property Damage If the accident or incident that caused your injury also resulted in damage to your personal property your vehicle, residence, or personal effects, for example you can typically receive compensation for those losses in a personal injury lawsuit, too. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may obtain payment for the cost of repairing that property or of replacing it altogether. If property is unfixable and irreplaceable, the law generally allows you to estimate its reasonable value based on how you used it and its personal significance to you.
Pain and Suffering
Thus far, we’ve covered the direct financial impacts of a personal injury that constitute recoverable damages in a personal injury lawsuit. But you’ve also likely suffered harm that doesn’t come with a specific price attached to it. Lawyers refer to these losses as non-economic damages or, more simply, pain and suffering. And the law says you deserve compensation for them to no less a degree than you do for your financial losses. The pain and suffering damages
you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit encompass every negative impact your trauma has had on your physical, emotional, family, social, and personal life. They generally include payment for your:
- Physical pain and discomfort from the injury or your medical treatments
- Emotional struggles and mental health challenges stemming from your trauma
- Scars or disfigurement caused by your injuries
- Daily inconvenience
- Loss of ability to live independently
- Loss of mobility or of a bodily function
- Diminished quality of life
- Inability to participate in favorite activities
- Impaired personal or intimate relationships
The amount of these damages usually correlates to the nature and severity of your injuries. Experienced personal injury lawyers work with their clients to understand an injury’s physical, emotional, and life impact to ensure that compensation received in a lawsuit represents fair compensation for those harms.
Certain personal injury cases may allow you to receive other types of damages. For example, the extreme or intentional actions of an at-fault party in causing your injury could entitle you to an award of punitive damages, which serve to punish that misconduct. Similarly, if the circumstances of your injury involved someone else’s violation of a state or federal statute, that law may entitle you to a specific payment (known as statutory damages) in addition to the compensation you’ve received.
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do for You?
An experienced personal injury lawyer can handle every step in the process of getting you the maximum compensation available for the damages you’ve suffered. Hiring a skilled personal injury attorney
who has years of experience in personal injury cases is the most reliable and effective way to ensure that you receive the most money possible in your circumstances. The steps a lawyer might need to take to get you paid will depend on your specific situation. In general, however, the right lawyer for your personal injury case will have the ability and resources to:
- Investigate the cause of your personal injury thoroughly
- Identify all parties and insurers who may owe you compensation
- Calculate the full scope of your financial and non-financial damages to ensure you can receive all money owed to you
- Answer your questions and advise you on your options
- Gather the evidence necessary to support your claim for damages
- Work with financial, medical, and other experts to support your claim
- Handle all interactions with insurance companies, defense lawyers, and official investigators on your behalf
- Prepare complete, accurate, and persuasive claims for damages to file with insurance companies or in court
- Negotiate top-dollar settlements of your claims whenever possible
- Counsel you on whether to accept or reject settlement offers
- Go to trial to prove your personal injury case to a judge and jury
- Collect and disburse all monies owed to you
A personal injury lawyer will typically work for you on a contingent fee basis. That means the lawyer will not charge you upfront or hourly fees to begin working on your case. Instead, the lawyer’s fee will consist of a percentage of any money recovered on your behalf. This gives the lawyer a strong incentive to do everything in their power to ensure that you receive the maximum damages possible of your personal injury. After all, the more you get paid, the higher their fee; but if they don’t win for you, they get nothing at all.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The law generally entitles you to recover significant monetary damages after suffering a personal injury caused by someone else’s wrongful conduct. You have the right to recover the expenses and financial losses you’ve incurred. And you deserve payment for the pain, suffering, and other life impacts of your injury. These damages can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) for personal injury victims. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is the most reliable way to maximize your chances of getting full payment. Sooner you connect with an attorney who represents injured individuals like you, the stronger the case for damages the lawyer can build on your behalf. So don’t wait to get started. Contact us today for a free consultation about the damages you could recover in a personal injury lawsuit.
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