Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Suffering a preventable injury at the hands of another individual can be a very frustrating experience. Recovery from the injury itself can take time, depending on the seriousness. Recovery can involve visits to various medical professionals and specialists, including physical and/or mental therapy sessions. Once recovery is underway, eventually, the invoices start to appear. It is then that the injured individual most likely contemplates obtaining compensation from the individual who was responsible for causing his/her injuries. While it is preferable to contact an attorney experienced in personal injury law sooner rather than later, unless the statute of limitations has passed, barring any legal action for recovery of expenses, retaining the services of attorney is crucial to obtaining compensation for the injuries. One of the primary benefits for retaining such legal counsel is to ascertain which damages an injury victim can attempt to claim. Recently, an American Airlines passenger initiated a lawsuit against the airline, alleging that a flight attendant physically assaulted him, resulting in traumatic brain injury and severe headaches. In fact, the lawsuit asks for damages to be awarded for severe, serious, and permanent personal injuries, as well as mental and emotional injuries which rendered the victim permanently and severely injured. A brief discussion of the legal theory on which personal injury litigation is based, as well as the types of damages available in these cases, will follow below.
Personal Injury Litigation
Negligence is the legal theory on which personal injury lawsuits hinge. To be successful in a negligence case, an injured plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care to conduct himself/herself in a reasonable manner so as not to bring harm to the plaintiff;
- The defendant failed to so conduct himself/herself;
- The failure caused an injury to the plaintiff; and
- The injury resulted in quantifiable damages.
Personal Injury Damages
As illustrated, one of the required elements that must be proven is that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury resulting in damages. Further, since the monetary award is based on the damages shown, it is important that an injured plaintiff be able to show the full extent of his/her injuries to maximize recovery. Generally, there are three basic types of damages:
- Damages for Economic Loss. These damages, which compensate for direct financial loss, are the most quantifiable, as they are based on the value of directly incurred expenses, and are typically shown by documentation. These damages may include medical costs, property damages, loss of earnings (including future earnings), and loss of household services.
- Damages for Non-Economic Loss. These damages are less directly proven (e., more subjective and more difficult to assign a specific monetary value), but are important nonetheless. Examples include both physical and emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment, and disfigurement or physical impairment. Additionally, in certain circumstances, the injured plaintiff’s family members may also be entitled to recover for loss of consortium or companionship.
- Punitive Damages. These damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious misbehavior. They are, actually, rarely awarded in personal injury cases, which, as noted above, is based on the legal theory of negligence. Rather, Florida caselaw has held that punitive damages are reserved for the intentional infliction of harm, or a recklessness which is the result of an intentional act.
Seek Legal Advice
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a negligent act or omission of another person, and are curious as to what damages you can potentially recover, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have years of experience in personal injury matters, and will be able to examine the circumstances of your case. If we believe another person or another entity acted inappropriately, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.