If you get hurt in an accident, your first job is to get better. However, recovery is often not something that comes inexpensively. Not only are there medical expenses to deal with, there are also huge gaps in your income from the recovery time. If the injury that you suffered was a serious one, there could even be a disability down the road that could plague your professional life for years to come. Not to mention the amount of pain and suffering that you and your family have gone through because of the accident.
A personal injury lawsuit is meant to fix this, as far as it can be fixed. While a successful personal injury suit will not turn back time to before the accident, when you were better, it can ensure that you get the compensation that you need and deserve to make a full recovery.
The personal injury attorneys at the Washington D.C. law office of Gilman & Bedigian help you get that compensation. By legally representing you both in and out of court, we fight to protect your rights and further your interests, getting the compensation that you need and deserve from those who are responsible for your injuries.
What Can You Get in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you file a personal injury lawsuit to protect your rights after an accident and get the compensation you deserve, you might wonder what you stand to gain. After all, a lawsuit is not a small thing to start, and you might find yourself daunted by the costs of finding an attorney that will fight for you, as well as by the stress of going through the court process to get what you deserve. It is important to understand that what you stand to gain is worth the struggle, especially if you have been seriously hurt.
If you win in a personal injury case, you get what we in the legal field call “damages.” Damages include all sorts of different payments for things that you and your family have lost, from medical bills and lost wages to the emotional strain that your family went through while you were recovering from your injuries. When all is said and done, the amount of damages that you can receive in a successful personal injury lawsuit could be substantial. With effective attorneys, like those at Gilman & Bedigian, the damage amount you could receive is even higher, and could go beyond just compensating you for what you have lost: You could also get punitive damages if the person who hurt you was especially at fault.
The whole category of damages is divided into two smaller blocks: Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are easier to calculate because they include things that have already been distilled into dollar amounts. In a personal injury case, examples of economic damages are the medical bills that you have already paid and that you are likely to pay in the future for your injuries, as well as the wages that you have lost and are expected to lose due to your injury, and any loss of earning capacity, too. Finally, economic damages include any property damage that you suffered in the accident, like a car that was damaged or totaled in a car crash.
Medical expenses are often the bulk of the economic damages that you stand to gain by filing a personal injury lawsuit in Washington D.C. Your medical expenses include any payments that you made to get the recovery you needed after the accident. This includes things like the ambulance ride, emergency room treatment, intensive care treatment, surgery and post-surgery expenses, physical therapy and medications, specialty consultations with doctors and other experts, overnight hospital stays and medical equipment, and outpatient care. When all of these are added up, the medical expenses that you have paid out before the lawsuit can be quite significant.
However, some injuries linger for beyond the time it takes to file a personal injury lawsuit. Some injuries result in chronic disabilities or pain, or never fully heal. In these cases, because you are sure to incur additional medical expenses, you also stand to get damages for the medical expenses that you will need in the future to treat the injury that you suffered in the accident, as well. These future medical expenses for a more permanent injury can include the outpatient care, medications, and physical therapy that you need to stay on top of your injury and live a life as close to normal as possible.
Calculating the medical expenses that you have had to pay is relatively easy, but still, has a lot of nuance to it. While you can start with the medical bills that you have had to pay to recover from your injury, the attorneys on the other side are sure to challenge each and every one of them, claiming that they were not reasonably necessary for your treatment. Proving that the expenses you paid were for treatment that was necessary for your recovery can be a struggle that only a skilled personal injury attorney can handle.
However, there are other medical expenses that you can incur, and that you can recover in a personal injury case, that do not necessarily seem like “medical” expenses. If your injury leaves you with a debilitating injury that prevents you from doing mundane, day-to-day tasks like dressing, eating, or walking, then the cost of hiring someone else to do those things for you can also be recovered in a personal injury case. Additionally, if your injury puts you in a wheelchair, you may have to modify where you live or move to another apartment that is handicap accessible. These are costs that you would not have had to pay, were it not for the accident that hurt you. Therefore, they are costs that you can recover from whoever put you in the situation you are now in.
Good personal injury attorneys, like those at Gilman & Bedigian, know where to find additional medical expenses that you might not have thought of. This can mean avoiding the shock of finding out that you have forgotten to seek compensation for a serious medical expense, and that you now have to pay for it out-of-pocket. Instead, you can rest assured that you are being fully compensated for all of the expenses that your injury has left you with.
Economic damages also include wages that you have lost while recovering from your injuries suffered in the accident.
If you get hurt and need medical attention – even if the injury is relatively minor – then you could find yourself missing work to see a doctor or a physical therapist, or to have a surgical procedure done. Even minor injuries can make you miss enough work to put a severe financial strain on your family if money is tight. Major injuries can put even financially stable families in a bind. This is especially the case if you get hurt and you were the only family member with an income and were working to support several others.
Because you would not have lost these wages were it not for the accident and the injury that you suffered in it, a personal injury lawsuit can recover these lost wages if it is successful.
The lost wages that you can recover in a personal injury suit include the wages and benefits that you lost while recovering full-time from your injury and the time that you had to leave work early to get to other medical appointments. These wages could also include interest, to make up for the time that you had to go without them in your pocket.
Loss of Earning Capacity
A successful personal injury case can not only recover the wages that you have already lost: It can also recover the wages that you would have earned in the future, had you not been hurt. The loss of these future wages is called a loss of earning capacity.
The law recognizes that a serious or debilitating injury can make it difficult or even impossible for you to keep your job or advance in your career as you would have, were it not for your injury. This is why you can recover compensatory damages for the loss of what you could have earned.
Depending on the situation, and especially your job, that you were in before the accident, this can make a huge difference. Factors like your education, work experience, and your age become crucially important because each one can influence what you could have been set to earn, were it not for the injuries you suffered.
For example, imagine that Stephen Strasburg, the phenom pitcher for the Washington Nationals, had hurt his elbow in a car accident rather than while pitching. Because he was young – then just 22 years old – and with one of the most promising baseball careers ahead of him, his loss of earning capacity would have been massive. If the elbow surgery had not been a success, leaving Strasburg unable to play baseball ever again, he would have stood to recover an incredibly significant sum.
Injury victims who are older or in jobs that are less lucrative than a professional baseball player stand to get less compensation for lost earning capacity. However, that does not mean you cannot get much of anything if you do not have a high-earning job. Instead, accident victims whose professional lives show an increase in wages or who are working low-paying jobs, but who were about to transition into a higher-paying job, can benefit greatly from getting compensation for their lost earning capacity. The numerous factors involved in determining what you could have made were it not for your accident, often requires an expert witness to examine your unique case.
Your economic damages also include the cost of repairing or replacing whatever property that you may have lost in your accident. After all, if you did not cause the accident and suffered property damage in it, it would be unfair to expect you to pay those costs out of your own pocket.
In most cases, the property that was damaged was your car that was involved in the car accident that hurt you. However, it could also be other property that you own and which was damaged or destroyed in the event. The compensation that you stand to gain in a successful personal injury lawsuit is the cost of repairing or replacing whatever it was that was lost in the accident. However, other collateral costs of fixing or replacing your property can be recovered, as well. For example, if you were hurt in a car accident and your car took $10,000 and a week to repair, then a personal injury lawsuit would aim to get $10,000 in compensation, as well as the cost of having a rental car for the week you were without your vehicle. Again, if it were not for the accident, you would not have to make those payments, so it would only be fair if you were compensated for them.
In addition to economic damages, there are also non-economic damages. If calculating economic damages seemed difficult, non-economic damages are far harder to determine. This is because economic damages are already set in dollar amounts – the cost of fixing your car, the amount you lost in wages, or the cost of your medical bills. On the other hand, your non-economic losses are far more difficult to put a set dollar amount on, as they consist of things like your pain and suffering, and your family's loss of consortium.
Just because non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate, though, does not make them any less important or severe. You deserve to be fully compensated for all your losses, including those that are non-economic.
Pain and Suffering
Out of all of the non-economic damages, those that are for pain and suffering are probably the most well known. Many people have heard of cases in the past where the victim of a terrible accident got millions of dollars for their pain and suffering. What many people overlook is the fact that the juries that awarded these victims huge amounts for their pain and suffering were some of the only people to hear everything that those accident victims went through. That the jury then awarded them so much says how badly these victims suffered.
Different injuries can come with different levels of physical pain and suffering. Some injuries come with intensive pain when they first happen, but there is little pain or suffering during the rest of the recovery process. Other injuries are not very painful, but the pain that is there is chronic and never goes away. In either case, you deserve to be compensated for the pain that you are going through, and an effective personal injury attorney will make sure that this happens in a successful personal injury case.
In addition to pain, injuries can also come with physical debilitation, as well. For some injuries, like brain or spinal injuries, this can be very severe. Other injuries lead to different forms of debilitation, like a lack of mobility, chronic discomfort, or symptoms like vertigo or vision problems. Just because these injuries do not lead to extreme pain does not mean that you should not be compensated for the suffering that you go through.
Finally, not all pain and suffering is physical. There are also forms of emotional or mental suffering that you can be compensated for with a successful personal injury lawsuit. The mental suffering of not being able to do what you used to be able to do can be extreme and can manifest itself in depression or other psychological symptoms. Just because these are not physical does not make them any less difficult to deal with, and you deserve to be compensated for what you go through because of the accident. Even emotional suffering can be compensated. If your injury leaves you with a disfigurement that makes it difficult to deal with other people, the emotional scarring can be just as severe as the physical ones.
Loss of Consortium
Your family also stands to be compensated for your personal injuries if they suffer because of them, as well. For example, if the recovery time for your injury is especially long and you are left unable to see your family for that whole time, your family deserves to be compensated for the emotional suffering they go through because of your absence and the stress that it causes. After all, it is not through your fault that they are made to go through this difficult time, so they deserve to be compensated for their loss, too.
Economic and non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for your losses. Their main goal is to bring you as closely back to the life you were living, before the accident. However, if the injuries that you suffered were the result of someone's especially terrible conduct, you might be able to get punitive damages, as well.
Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you. Instead, they are meant to punish the person who hurt you by making them pay far beyond what it would cost to make you better. The goal of punitive damages is to ensure that they will never act in the same way, again, and to deter others from acting that way, as well. Punitive damages in personal injury cases are rare, though, because the person who hurt you had to have acted very badly. It often requires that they intended to hurt you, instead of it just being an accident.
Statutory Caps on Damages
Some states have laws that limit the amount you can get in personal injury cases. Many of these states prohibit non-economic damage awards over a specific dollar amount, no matter how badly you suffered from your injuries.
Luckily, Washington D.C. is not one of these states. Our state legislators recognize that the jury is in the best position to make a decision as to how much pain and suffering you have been through, because of your injury, and will award an amount that is just. Therefore, we do not have any maximum amount of damages that you can get in a personal injury case in Washington D.C.
Only rarely do personal injury cases make it all the way through the court system and to a trial. Nearly all of them settle out of court.
These settlements can be a win for both you and the person you are trying to sue because they put an end to the long, expensive, and stressful process of a lawsuit. However, a settlement is a final deal, and once it is made the lawsuit ends and cannot be brought back to life. Having a settlement offer is something that you should only consider with your personal injury lawyer by your side, guiding you through each and every detail in the offer to make sure it is a good one for you.
Washington D.C. Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
It does not matter that you were hurt accidentally. You should not have to pay for injuries that were caused by someone else's negligence. Paying out of your own pocket for what someone else did is unfair.
A personal injury lawsuit is the best way to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve after being hurt in an accident. The best way to make that personal injury case a successful one is by hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you both in and out of court. The attorneys at the Washington D.C. law office of Gilman & Bedigian fight vigorously for your rights and interests to make sure you get the compensation that you need and deserve. Contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162.