If you have suffered an injury you may be wondering who will be paying for all of the costs associated with your treatment and recovery. Even if you have medical insurance, you may still be left with thousands in co-payments and expenses. In a personal injury lawsuit, you can seek damages for your economic losses. However, those are not the only injuries that may be affecting your life. You may have other injuries, pain, suffering and anguish that is difficult to quantify. The person responsible for your injuries should not only pay your medical bills, but they should also compensate you for the pain and suffering related to your injuries.
Damages in a D.C. Personal Injury Case
In a Washington D.C. personal injury case, damages generally fall into one of three categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages can include the amount of money that a plaintiff loses or is required to pay because of the injury. This primarily consists of loss of income and medical expenses. These damages are usually demonstrated by producing documents like medical bills and employer documentation to come up with a total number of economic damages suffered as a result of the accident.
Punitive damages may be available in a Washington D.C. personal injury case, but are rare. This is because there is a very high standard to justify an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are generally only permitted if the defendant acted with evil motive, malice, deliberate violence, or in willful disregard for the rights of the plaintiff; and the defendant's conduct itself was outrageous, grossly fraudulent, or reckless toward the safety of the plaintiff.
Pain and suffering falls under the category of non-economic damages. These damages can be subjective and more difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages can include pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disability, disfigurement, physical impairment, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, marital care, parental care, or other nonpecuniary injury.
Pain and Suffering in D.C. Personal Injury Claims
Pain and suffering involves the physical, mental, and emotional distress that an individual may go through as a result of their injury. This can be subjective depending on the individual, the type of injury, and the consequences of the injury. For serious and debilitating injuries, the pain and suffering damages may be higher. For minor injuries where the individual is able to get back to their normal life in a short amount of time, the pain and suffering damages may be lower.
Pain and suffering damages may also be higher in cases where the plaintiff has been physically scarred, burned or dismembered. Having your physical body forever transformed due to an accident can have a lifelong impact on your physical and emotional state.
If you were injured in an accident, it may not seem fair that the government can limit the amount of damages you can recover in your personal injury lawsuit. If someone else is responsible for your accident, and you suffered serious pain, emotional distress, permanent injury, and emotional anguish, then they should also be responsible for paying the price for their negligent behavior. The good news is that Washington D.C. does not cap damages like some other states.
Neighboring states like Virginia and Maryland have caps on personal injury damages. In Maryland non-economic damages are not unlimited, and may be limited by the state maximums. For causes of action arising on or after October 1, 2015, the non-economic limits for a personal injury action are $815,000. In an action for wrongful death, if there are two or more plaintiffs, the damage award can be up to 150% of the non-economic damage cap. However, in a personal injury case in the District of Columbia, there is no statutory cap on non-economic damages.
Washington D.C. Personal Injury Attorneys
Money damages may cover the cost of your medical expenses, but they may not be enough to fully compensate you for your injuries. In a personal injury accident, it is important to acknowledge the seriousness of pain and suffering. An experienced D.C. personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the process and advise you on each step to take along the way. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone's negligence, please do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.