When a person is injured as a result of another person's negligence, it's important that the negligent party is held accountable for their actions, whether it's an individual, a group of people, or a business. This is why it's so crucial that you speak with a personal injury attorney following these kinds of injuries. Your attorney will use all of his or her legal expertise to help you fight for what you are owed.
The money that you receive in a personal injury lawsuit is known as damages. We'd like to take a moment right now to consider the nature of damages in a personal injury case and how they are calculated.
What are damages in a personal injury lawsuit?
As noted above, damages refer to the money that you are awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.
There are two kinds of damages that are commonly sought in personal injury cases:
- Compensatory Damages - Compensatory damages are intended to cover actual hardships and material losses experienced as a result of an act of negligence. This includes damaged property, medical bills, physical rehabilitation, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Punitive Damages - Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party so that similar actions that led to the incident in question do not occur again. In major cases, punitive damages can also serve as a kind of deterrent from other parties repeating said actions.
It is not uncommon for people to seek both compensatory damages and punitive damages in a personal injury case.
How Compensatory Damages Are Calculated
Since compensatory damages are tied to material losses and actual experiences, they tend to be relatively easy to calculate. This includes looking at the value of various damaged goods, the cost of medical care, the cost of physical rehabilitation, and the amount of lost wages or lost potential earnings.
With regard to the monetary amount for pain and suffering, this is generally determined by the severity/nature of the incident as well as considering similar cases and the amount sought in said cases.
An Example of Calculating Compensatory Damages
Say a person was involved in an auto accident with a large truck and the truck driver acted negligently. The trucking company would be held accountable for the damage to the vehicle, the damage to any goods within the vehicle, the cost of medical treatment and physical rehab, and so forth. The car accident lawyer would add up the various amounts involved to calculate compensatory damages.
How Punitive Damages Are Calculated
In order to tabulate punitive damages, it's important for attorneys to consider the nature of the accident, the severity of the incident, and how the hardships of the injury victims impacted overall quality of life. Attorneys will also consider similar cases in the past and the amounts sought in those cases.
An Example of Calculating Punitive Damages
Using the situation mentioned in the above example about compensatory damages, let's assume that a) the truck driver was sleepy while driving and b) this driver fatigue was the fault of the trucking company's mistreatment of its drivers, disallowing them from taking breaks.
The attorney would consider similar cases in the past and seek damages that are commensurate with those while also taking into account the nuances of this particular incident. Not only will the amount lead to reforms in the trucking company's operations, but it can also cause others in similar industries to take note and make similar changes to their way of conducting business.
Learn More About Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you would like to learn more about your legal options following an injury sustained due to another person's negligence, be sure to contact a Torrance personal injury attorney today. The entire team here looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you make the best choices regarding your legal options.