Philadelphia's personal injury law aims to compensate victims for the losses they sustain in accidents they did not cause. Despite what insurance companies will try to make you believe, though, the amount of compensation you are entitled to goes well beyond just the costs of the medical bills you have already accumulated. Instead, you should be compensated for all of the negative results of the accident, including your physical pain, emotional distress, your inability to enjoy life, and even your family's loss of consortium.
Gilman & Bedigian's personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia can represent you in the courtroom and outside of it to recover the compensation you need and deserve.
Your Non-Economic Damages
In Philadelphia, you are entitled to receive compensation for your losses after an accident. This compensation is supposed to be equal to your legal damages, which includes every possible setback that you have suffered at the hands of the negligent party. Those legal damages fall into two categories: Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Your economic damages are those that can be stated in a dollar amount at least somewhat easier. In most cases, they are reflected on a bill that you have had to pay. In others, they represent your inability to gain something that you would have been able to count on if it were not for the accident. Economic damages include:
- Medical expenses, both in the past and in the future
- Property damage
- Costs associated with necessary home modifications
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
Your non-economic damages are those that are not reflected in a dollar amount. These are internal losses and difficulties that you have felt from the results of the accident and your injuries. They include:
- The mental suffering of the inability to do the things you want in life
- Emotional distress
- Your family's loss of companionship or consortium
While it is very difficult to put these non-economic damages in a dollar amount, that does not change the fact that you suffered them at the hands of someone else's negligence.
Compensation for Physical Pain
A significant portion of the non-economic damages you are entitled to is designed to compensate you for the physical pain you have been put through. Because you would not have felt it, were it not for the other person's negligence, you deserve to be reimbursed and the negligent party deserves to pay it.
Of course, putting a dollar amount on the amount of pain that you felt is difficult. While it is obvious that a broken leg is more painful than a broken toe, how much compensation does either one deserve? Worse, pain can be moderate but last a long time, like chronic pain sustained after a whiplash injury, or can be intense but only last a few months, like a broken bone.
The personal injury law in Philadelphia answers this dilemma by simply forcing the jury in a personal injury lawsuit to deliberate and come up with an answer. Unfortunately, this has led to similar injuries being compensated with widely-diverging amounts, simply because the two juries were feeling generous or stingy at the time.
Suffering Caused by the Loss of Life's Enjoyments
The other major portion of your non-economic damages in Philadelphia comes from the loss of life's enjoyments that you have suffered in the accident. Also known as the “suffering” half of the phrase “pain and suffering,” the loss of life's enjoyments aims to rectify the feelings of depression and frustration that often come with disabilities sustained through no fault of your own.
Damages for your suffering become quite significant when the injuries you sustained come with severe disabilities that will keep you from doing what you love, forever. Pursuing compensation for your loss of life's enjoyments after traumatic brain injuries or injuries that lead to paralysis is essential for victims who want to make a full recovery.
Loss of Consortium and Companionship
When you get hurt, the impacts of your injuries are likely to spread past you and to your close friends and family members, as well. Children will struggle to cope with a parent who has been severely hurt, while spouses will strain to make ends meet while their loved one recovers.
Because these consequences of the accident are completely foreseeable, there is no reason why your family should not receive compensation, as well. The personal injury law in Philadelphia recognizes this and allows loved ones to include claims for their loss of companionship alongside your personal injury claim against the negligent party.
No Damage Caps in Philadelphia
Most states in the U.S. have statutes that limit the amount of compensation victims can recover for the non-economic damages they have suffered. While the stated purpose behind these statutes is to prevent especially generous juries from awarding such huge verdicts that the defendant is ruined, the vast majority of these damage-capping statutes only apply to medical malpractice cases – the only benefactors are the healthcare facilities that lobbied extensively for their passage.
In Philadelphia, these damage caps are prohibited by the state constitution. Article III, Section 18 prohibits laws that “limit the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to persons.” There are, however, two important exceptions:
- Personal injury cases against the state government are limited to $250,000 in compensation for all damages, not just non-economic damages, under 42 Pa.C.S. § 8528(b)
- Personal injury cases against the local government are limited to $500,000 in compensation for all damages under 42 Pa.C.S. § 8553(b)
Gilman & Bedigian: Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Philadelphia
If you have been hurt in Philadelphia and someone else was responsible, it would be unfair to expect you to pay for the costs of your own recovery. The negligent person should reimburse you for your expenses and cover for all of the negative repercussions of the accident that they caused, including your non-economic damages.
The personal injury lawyers at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can fight for your rights to reimbursement. Contact them online for the help you need.