What damages can I recover in a personal injury case?
No one plans to get injured because of someone else’s wrongdoing, but we all know accidents happen. Sometimes you are the cause of the accident, sometimes someone else is the cause. If you are injured because of a car accident, there are several things you should know.
Importantly, you have three years to file a lawsuit from the date of injury. So, if you’re injured in a car accident on January 1, 2022, you have until January 1, 2025, to file a lawsuit if you can’t resolve your case. There are some exceptions to this rule. For more information, contact an experienced Tri-Cities area personal injury attorney.
Damages recoverable in a personal injury case
There are two categories of damages you can recover: economic damages and non-economic damages. Both types of damages are intended to compensate the injured person for her injuries. Stated differently, these damages are designed to make the injured person “whole.”
Economic damages include hospital bills, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of use of property, lost wages, property damages, cost of hiring domestic services, loss of business opportunities, and future medical bills. Non-economic damages include mental anguish, pain and suffering, and future emotional distress, disability, physical disfigurement, injury to reputation, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment.
Examples of economic damages:
Medical care: Past, present, and future hospital bills for surgeries, hospitalizations, diagnostic care, and prescription medications. Disability accommodations, live-in caregivers, and other healthcare expenses may also qualify as recoverable economic damages.
Property damage: If you were injured in a car accident, it is entirely possible your vehicle was damaged. As mentioned in earlier blog, it is important that you contact your insurance carrier and police immediately following an accident. Despite what you see on commercials, your insurance carrier is usually not the “bad guy.” Most insurance carriers will try to help you because that’s one of their jobs.
Loss of income: You may be able to recover lost wages if you are unable to work after an accident. Make sure to get a note from your medical provider saying you should not return to work. If you simply refuse to go back to work, you may not be able to recover your loss of income. If your injuries are severe enough, you may lose the ability to earn the same amount of money in the future because you can no longer perform your job, or at least the same job and earn the same amount of money. For example, if you worked as a truck driver before an accident on vacation with your family injured your back, and the injury is so severe that you can no longer sit for long periods of time, you may no longer be employable as a truck driver. In that case, you may be able to recover damages for loss of earning capacity.
Pain and suffering: Physical pain after an accident is recoverable. If you suffered three months of physical pain, your personal injury attorney may try to recover three months’ worth of pain and suffering. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are not easy to calculate because each person responds differently to injuries. Some people have a high pain tolerance, others a very low pain tolerance. If your case is tried to a jury, it will be up to the jury to decide how much, if anything, to award the injured party for pain and suffering.
Emotional distress: This is psychological trauma from an injury the plaintiff suffers from such as depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, feelings of helplessness, etc. Emotional distress can be one of the more difficult non-economic damages to recover unless an injured party is treated by a mental health professional.
Loss of enjoyment: Injuries from the accident prevent the accident victim from enjoying their day-to-day activities and hobbies.
Disfigurement: This non-economic damage includes surgical scars and scars caused by the accident. Recovery of disfigurement is heavily dependent on the size and location of the scar. Would you compensate someone the same if they had a one-inch scar on the bottom their foot or a four-inch scar across their face?
Disability: There are four general types of disability: temporary, permanent, partial, and whole. Injured persons are entitled to recover damages for disabilities caused by someone else’s wrongdoing. If someone loses an arm in an accident, for example, they may be able to recover damages for their partial, yet permanent, disability.
Are punitive damages recoverable in a personal injury case?
No. Washington State is one of a few states that does not allow recovery of punitive damages. So, if your injuries were caused by reckless, unreasonably dangerous, or intentional conduct, Washington law does not allow you to recovery punitive damages against the at-fault party.
Turn to Aultman Law to Handle Your Personal Injury Case
When you retain the legal services of Aultman Law, you have in your corner an experienced personal injury lawyer. Jeff Aultman has
literally handled hundreds of personal injury cases over the last 18 years. Some of the cases
Jeff Aultman has handled include:
- car accidents
- commercial trucking accidents
- slip and falls
- trip and falls
- wrongful deaths
- motorcycle accidents
Whether you were injured or are an insurance carrier seeking outside defense counsel, Contact Jeff Aultman to discuss your situation. At Aultman Law, you will receive unparalleled customer service, honest case evaluations, transparency, and routine communications so you never wonder what is happening with your case. In addition to personal injury cases, Aultman Law handles business litigation, insurance defense, and construction defect matters.