Determining Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Like many other Los Angeles personal injury law firms, the attorneys at the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., are often asked by our clients, “How much is my case really worth?” The answer to this question depends primarily upon the type of injury sustained and the amount of “damages” that injury is worth in the eyes of the law. This, in turn, often depends upon how well a skilled attorney can accurately convey the extent of those injuries and how much that injury impacted the life and well being of the client. This figure also depends very heavily on how much of a “threat” the attorney poses to go all the way if necessary, which is why it is crucially important to hire an attorney that is able to take your case all the way to trial. The term “damages” when used in this context is a placeholder term for many different types of compensation for injuries that a victim in a personal injury case may suffer. Some of them are directly related to physical harm, while others are financial harm that result directly from the physical harm.

The most common type of damages awarded in personal injury cases is called compensatory damages. These damages are awarded to a plaintiff in order to compensate the plaintiff for physical or financial harm the plaintiff suffered by being a victim of the personal injury incident. There is another type of damages, known as punitive damages, that is awarded to “punish” the defendant for truly egregious behavior. Since punitive damages are very rare, we will focus instead on the more common compensatory damages.

Pain and Suffering

When you are physically injured in an incident, a court or a jury can award you financial compensation for it. While money cannot directly relieve pain, replace an injured back, or regrow a severed limb, it can make life more bearable and help to pay for things that can make it easier for injured people to live, work, and transport themselves. Compensation can be awarded both for past pain and suffering and for future anticipated pain and suffering.

Medical Expenses

Another common category of compensatory damages is for past and future medical treatment and expenses. Many serious injuries require tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care, and when a person does something wrong to injure another person, the law recognizes that it is fairer for the wrongdoing party (i.e., the defendant) to pay for those bills than the person who was injured (i.e., the plaintiff).  Similar to pain and suffering, in this category money can be awarded both for past expenses and anticipated future expenses.

Lost Income

Injured people are often unable to work, either temporarily or – in some extreme cases – permanently.  In certain circumstances, an injured party’s earning ability is significantly affected by their injuries. Take for instance the case of an experienced and skilled roofer who is unable to work in their field after an accident. Courts can award compensatory damages for lost past income and loss of future earning capacity.

Property Loss

You can also be compensated for property that is lost or damaged. If your car is totaled in a wreck and the defendant is found to be at fault, the court might add the cost of a replacement vehicle to your compensatory damages. Even when a vehicle or other property is salvageable, the cost to repair it can be added to your damages.

Other Compensatory Damages

There are other, less common, compensatory damages as well. These include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment (of day-to-day activities enjoyed prior to the injury), and loss of consortium.

An experienced attorney such as Dr. Kramer can tell you more about the particular compensatory damages commonly awarded in your type of personal injury case. When choosing a Los Angeles personal injury law firm, look for attorneys with the type of experience that will make a judge and jury really take notice of your case. Dr. Kramer is both a medical doctor and a California-licensed attorney. He and his team will work strenuously on your behalf. Call us at (310) 289-2600 or visit us online to have your case reviewed today.

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