Thursday, September 12, 2013
How Much is My Personal Injury Worth - Boise Personal Injury Lawyers - (208) 472-2383
How Much is a Personal Injury Worth in Idaho?
As a Boise Personal Injury Attorney I get frequent questions from people wanting to know how much there injury is worth. What kind of settlement can I get for my personal injury? As with all legal issues, there is no cut and dry answer. There are several factors, however, to keep in mind when trying to quantify how much your injury is worth.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
You might hear a personal injury lawyer speak about compensatory damages. These are damages award to compensate a person for their injury. Compensatory damages include special damages, general damages and potentially punitive damages.
Most attorneys will start with identifying something known as special damages. These are fairly easy to identify because they include actual expenses including things like medical bills, prescription costs, lost wages, durable medical goods, such as crutches and the like.
It is important if you have suffered a personal injury to keep a good record of these expenses because the extent of your injury can be manifest in your medical bills, though not always. At any rate, you will need to be able to identify the cost of your injuries. If you have been injured and you never go to the doctor, you lose evidence of your injury and you have no evidence to prove your damages.
Another type of damage personal injury attorneys look at is general damages which are non-quantifiable damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium. While special damages are easy to quantify, these general damages are less easy to identify. For example, how much is the pain and suffering associated with a broken back? In order to value the non-quantifiable damage, it is important to look at the extent of the medical bills because they can indicate the severity of the injury, though not always. It is also important to look at the circumstances of injury. For example, if you have two automobile accidents that are similar in nature, you may end up with two widely varying damage awards based upon the circumstances of the situation. If you have a rear end accident that is caused by a 75 year old woman driving in the rain and she hits you and is cited for following too closely and going too fast for the conditions outside vs. you have a rear end accident caused by a 25 year old intoxicated male who is cited for DUI, you may end up with a different award amount because of the surrounding circumstances of the case.
In regard to types of general damages, I often am asked, “what is loss of consortium?” Consortium is your relationship with your spouse, your children or society in general. Consortium with your child means your relationship and how you related. Your closeness as parent and child. Loss of consortium with a spouse includes your relationship but also your sexual relationship. If you injury caused you to lose that closeness or sexual intimacy with your spouse, you have a loss of consortium. If you no longer have a sexual relationship or you sought a divorce after the accident because of the loss of consortium, this emotional for of injury is often a recoverable damage.
Another factor that can affect the amount of damages awarded is the condition of the plaintiff. For example, an older person will generally take longer to heal than a young person. Pain and suffering will associated with a paralyzation will affect a younger person for a longer duration than an older person and therefore the award for that loss will be more. A scar on the face of a young woman will be valued at a greater degree than a leg scar on a same aged male because of what our society values as beauty.
One other interesting fact about personal injury is that you can recover general damages for yourself but also for those close to you who witness or are affected by your injury. For example, if your child witnesses your accident, they may have emotional damages associated with witnessing that. If your spouse is shown your an x-ray of your neck after a catastrophic neck injury, this can cause emotional harm directly related to the injury. Even if you have had a divorce, if your ex-spouse witnesses your accident, that distress may be a compensated claim in regard to both parties.
Punitive damages are not routinely awarded. They are given when it can be shown that the defendant acted extremely irresponsibly. They might economically benefit from a defective product and continue to do so after they are aware of the harm. Punitive damages are awarded to discourage others from doing the same type of thing and to penalize the party who caused the harm.
The above discussion just goes to show how and why there is no cut and dry answer about how much your injury is worth. If you have been injured and need to speak to a Boise Personal Injury Attorney, please give us a call, (208) 472-2383, and see what we can do for you. You will be glad you did.