Compensatory damages are meant to offset an injury sustained by an individual. Actual damages, or damages which reimburse an individual for out-of-pocket expenses, include monetary awards for medical expenses, property damage, and loss of income. General damages may also be awarded for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and lost opportunity for the future enjoyment of life.
Serious injuries result in substantial medical bills; therefore, an injured person’s medical expenses are usually a significant portion of the damages to which he or she is entitled. Logic would dictate that the greater the amount of money owed for physician’s services, the greater the damages are to be sought. Future medical costs must also be considered in the case of a long-term injury requiring significant rehabilitation or on-going treatment. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to select the necessary experts to establish the need for future medical treatment.
The plaintiff in a personal injury case may also be awarded damages for the replacement or repair of any property harmed in an accident. Automobile damage, for example, is a common occurrence in personal injury cases. In addition to the costs of repair and loss of value to the car, a plaintiff may also be able to receive compensation for damage to property contained within the car as well as reimbursement for obtaining substitute transportation during the repair period.
Loss of Income
If the injury sustained by the plaintiff prevents him or her from working, compensation can be sought for the amount of money normally earned during that time period, otherwise known as “lost wages.” The injured person can also claim lost wages for any absences due to medical treatment of the injury. An injury severe enough to prevent a person from working for the remainder of his or her life may allow for damages to cover the loss of one’s future earnings. Finally, if a person dies due to an accident, family members can choose to sue for the lost income that the victim would have earned based on his or her age and current salary. Logically, a younger person has longer work-life expectancy and would therefore have a greater loss of future earnings in the event of an untimely death.
Pain and Suffering
The most personal element of an injured person’s experience is the amount of physical pain and suffering which he or she must endure. Each individual’s tolerance for pain is different which makes the quantification of suffering problematic, but certain factors can be measured accurately to document one’s discomfort level. For example, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to collect information from the medical practitioners involved in the case regarding the amount of medication the injured person required, the types and length of treatments necessary, and the duration of the recovery period. In addition, the injured person’s spouse and/or nearest friends and relatives will be interviewed to ascertain the extent of change to the victim’s quality of life by comparing his or her condition and normal activities prior to and after the accident.
A person who suffers a more severe and painful injury that causes long-term or even permanent impairment will clearly have a more valuable claim in a personal injury case than an individual whose injuries are not as extensive. If the injury is indeed permanently disabling, experienced counsel will seek out expert testimony to support the victim’s claim and help determine the most suitable value of damages to be sought.
Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
While mental anguish and emotional distress often exist concurrently with pain and suffering, the former are distinct in that they refer to mental responses to the trauma of a physical event. Common symptoms of mental anguish would include terror, shock, apprehension, confusion, humiliation, and sorrow.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Ray Hodge & Associates at (316)269-1414. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if we recover money on your behalf. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your rights.
Ray Hodge & Associates proudly represents victims and their families across the state of Kansas, including Wichita, Andover, Derby, Goddard, Haysville, Mulvane, Rose Hill, Newton, El Dorado and Hutchinson. Call today for a free consultation all over the state of Kansas. We have proudly served clients in Sedgwick, Butler, Sumner, Harvey, Kingman and Reno Counties.