A drunk driver crashes into you, totaling your car and putting you through months of recovery due to injuries. The giant hanging CLEARANCE! sign at a store falls on you while you are shopping, and you end up in the hospital. Your son’s new hoverboard catches on fire and burns him.
There are all kinds of situations where you might be able to sue someone for negligence if you are hurt – but is it worth it? What are you actually able to receive compensation for?
In personal injury lawsuits, compensation – or damages – falls into two general categories: punitive and compensatory. Punitive damages, however, are incredibly rare. These types of damages are only awarded when the behavior of the defendant is found to be particularly reprehensible.
Say, for example, someone found out they had AIDS and decided to have sex with others to give them the disease. Or that a company found out their product was incredibly dangerous and hid that information so they could still sell it. Deliberate acts like these could potentially be grounds for punitive damages, where the individuals or organizations responsible are ordered to pay you because they engaged in horrible behavior and it caused you harm.
Compensatory damages are far more common, so that is what we will be focus on for the rest of this post.
Understanding Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
The first thing to understand about compensatory damages is that the goal is to pay you back for some kind of harm that you have suffered. In some cases, this harm can be easily quantified, while in others it is much more open to debate.
What kinds of things can you be awarded compensatory damages for?
Medical bills. You can get compensation for medical treatment you receive related to the incident. This includes the cost of pre-death medical care in wrongful death cases.
Estimated cost of future medical care. If you are injured in such a way that you will need to receive ongoing care, the negligent party or parties can be held responsible for the cost of future care.
Related household expenses. When you’re hurt, often you are not as able to get around and take care of regular household duties. It could be that you need to pay someone to mow your lawn. Or clean. There are all kinds of things that could potentially be covered here.
Costs related to changes in plans. You were about to set sail on a cruise around the world, but now you’re laid up in the hospital because someone else hurt you. According to the law, they can be held responsible for covering the cost of any changes in plans you have to make.
Loss of earnings. If you are in the hospital for a month recovering, that’s a month of not earning a salary. The party that injured you can be held liable for this money.
Loss of future earnings. Before your accident, you were a college professor. But since you suffered traumatic brain injuries, that career just isn’t an option any more. The responsible party can be made to pay for all of the earnings that you rightfully would have made throughout your career if they had never hurt you.
Loss of services and support. Maybe your wife was a homemaker and caretaker to your children before she died. Now that she’s no longer there, you have to find a way to cover these duties. Typically, that means hiring someone. This is an expense the responsible party should cover.
Pain and suffering. It’s important to have your hospital bills paid for, but you still have to endure pain and suffering due to the actions of another. There’s no way to make this pain and suffering go away, but there is a way to get compensated for it.
Mental anguish. Beyond the physical pain that you feel, there are also potential mental issues, such as PTSD, stress, and fear, which you may never fully recover from. You can sue to get compensation for these issues as well.
As you can see, there are many types of damages you can seek in personal injury lawsuits in Florida. If you are interested in learning more about which of these may apply in your particular circumstances, get in contact with Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert today.