If you get hurt in an accident or because someone else was negligent, your first thought is getting better. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to ignore how expensive your recovery is becoming. This is especially true if your injury requires extensive treatment in a hospital, numerous surgeries, or months of physical therapy. If your injury leads to a disability that will impact your life for years to come, the thought of how much you will be paying for treatment can be staggering.
Personal injury lawsuits are meant to fix this. By filing a lawsuit against the person, people, or company that hurt you, you can get the compensation that you need and deserve for the expenses that you have had to cover yourself. By getting this compensation, you can rest assured that you will be able to make a full recovery without suffering a severe financial strain over the long term. While a lawsuit will not be able to turn back time to before the accident, when you were unhurt, it can help you fully recover from the incident.
The personal injury attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. By legally representing you while you file a personal injury lawsuit against the ones who were responsible for hurting you, we can do your fighting for you, and get you the compensation that you deserve from those who were responsible.
Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When you file a personal injury lawsuit against the people who hurt you, you are protecting your rights and your interests – a lawsuit is nothing more than a formal demand that they pay for what they did. However, filing a personal injury lawsuit is not a small undertaking, and you might worry that it is not worth the expense of starting one and the stress of seeing it all the way through to completion. Because of this, it is crucial to understand what you stand to gain out of a successful personal injury case.
If you win a personal injury lawsuit, you get what are known as “damages” in the legal field. This is the catch-all category for everything that you can be compensated for in a case. This includes things like your medical bills and lost wages, your pain and suffering and your family's emotional loss. In extreme cases, it can also include punitive damages, which are meant to punish the person who hurt you for what they did.
While the amount of damages that you can get in a personal injury lawsuit can be limited in some cases by Pennsylvania laws, what you stand to gain is often substantial. With effective personal injury attorneys who know how to show and prove all of the ways in which you were hurt, the amount of damages that you can get rises even higher. With the help of the personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian, you can rest assured that you will be fully compensated for what you have gone through, as well as any issues that might arise in the future.
Damages are often divided into two smaller categories: Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include the monetary losses that you have had, because of the accident and your injuries. In a typical personal injury case like a car accident, your economic damages will be the medical bills that you have already had to pay, as well as those that you will have to pay in the future. It will also include the wages and income that you have lost and are about to lose because of your injuries, as well as the cost of any property damage that you suffered.
In Philadelphia, your medical expenses are often the bulk of your economic damages in a personal injury claim. This is especially true when you have effective personal injury attorneys representing you in court – they know all of the different ways that you may have paid money for treatment for your injuries, as well as where you are likely to pay for treatment in the future.
In Philadelphia, your medical expenses in a personal injury claim include things like the ambulance ride after the accident, any emergency room or intensive care treatment you needed, surgical costs and post-surgery expenses, like physical therapy that you needed to recover, as well as the cost of medications, consultations with specialists and other experts, doctors, and surgeons, plus the cost of hospital stays, medical equipment, and outpatient care. This is a long laundry list of expenses, many of which you might not have even considered when you thought about how much money you have had to spend to get better. When put together, the medical expenses that you have already paid to recover from your injury can be substantial.
However, many injuries linger long after the accident that caused them. Just because you are still suffering from them does not mean that you cannot get the compensation you need to deal with them. These are often the most severe injuries you have suffered. Not being able to get compensation for them would be unfair.
This is why effective personal injury attorneys like those at Gilman & Bedigian know to fight for your future medical expenses, as well. By including the costs of the outpatient care, medications, medical equipment and physical therapy that you are going to need, in addition to what you have already needed, to make a full recovery, we can ensure that you get all of the compensation that you are entitled to get.
Determining exactly what you are owed, though, is not quick and easy. You can count on the other side in a personal injury lawsuit arguing that you are inflating your costs and challenging every expense that you throw at them. One of the favorite tactics of personal injury defense attorneys is to claim that the expense was not for a medically necessary treatment, or that there was a cheaper alternative. Showing that all of your expenses were for treatments that you needed to recover from your injuries can be difficult for you to do. Having an attorney at your side to help is crucial.
If you have been hurt in an accident, you probably needed some time off of work to recover from your injuries. If this caused you to lose all or a part of your income while you recovered, you should get compensation for your lost wages. Lost wages are another example of the economic damages that you have suffered in a personal injury situation.
Even if the injury is a minor one, you likely had to spend some of your time at a doctor's office instead of at work. If you are the primary breadwinner for your family, this could put a strain on your family's finances, especially if money was already tight before your injury. If your injury was more significant, you might have missed a week or even months of wages. Being out of work for so long might have even led to you being let go from your job.
None of this would have happened if not for what someone else did to hurt you. Because you were not at fault, there is no reason why you should not be compensated for your injuries and what those injuries have caused. Therefore, whatever compensation you get in a personal injury case should also include the wages that you have lost. Additionally, you deserve to be compensated for all of that time that you did not have the money from your wages. Getting damages for your lost wages should come with the interest that you would ordinarily have earned if you did not have the money in your wallet.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Many of the most serious injuries also lead to long-term debilitation and disability. This can mean that you will likely have to do without wages that you would have earned, in the future. Of course, the loss of those future wages are not your fault, just like the loss of wages in the past was not your fault. You deserve to be compensated for the income that you are likely to lose in the future, too.
Luckily, personal injury law recognizes this and allows you to recover future income loss – called your loss of earning capacity – as a part of your economic damages.
Unlike lost wages, though, computing your loss of earning capacity is not always easy. Instead of being able to look to the past, see how many hours of work you missed, and multiply them by your hourly wage, determining your lost earning capacity is more complex. It involves numerous factors, including your education level as well as whether you are in school to get another degree or certificate, your age, and your work experience. Each one of these factors can influence how much you would have earned – your earning capacity – were it not for the injury that you suffered in the accident.
Just because you are not in a high-paying job does not mean that your future earning capacity is not worth pursuing. The amount can be quite substantial, especially if you showed ambition in your current job, or were about to transition into a role that paid more, but the injury prevented you from making the transition. The numerous factors involved in determining your loss of earning potential often requires testimony from an expert witness who can make a solid statement about how much you would have earned, were it not for your injuries.
Economic damages also include any property damage that you suffered while you got hurt. Compensation for your property damage would include the cost of repairing whatever was involved in the accident or the cost of replacing it with something similar. Just like with the other forms of damages that you can get in a personal injury lawsuit, the amount you stand to receive for your property damage is meant to put you back in the position you were in before the incident.
In a typical case, the property damage that you suffered was your car in the crash that hurt you. However, it can be anything else that was damaged in the event, too. While the bulk of what you stand to get in compensation for your property damage is the cost of repairing or replacing whatever was damaged, you can also get collateral costs of your property damage, as well. For example, if you get into a car accident and your car, which was worth $20,000, gets totaled, you would need to get a rental car until you could find and buy a new car. Because you would not have had to pay for the rental car were it not for the car accident that totaled your first car, you should be compensated for the costs of getting the rental, in addition to being compensated for the value of your first car.
The economic damages that you sustain should all be compensated because nothing you did caused them, and it would be unfair to expect you to pay for what someone else did. While economic damages are already in a dollar amount, it can still be tricky to pinpoint exactly how much you should be paid in compensation.
Non-economic damages are even more difficult to put a dollar amount on. This is because, unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are not already in a dollar format – like the cost of fixing your car or the cost of your medical bills. Non-economic damages are intangible things that you or your family has suffered in the accident, like your pain and suffering, and your family's loss of consortium.
However, just because they are difficult to calculate does not mean that non-economic damages are any less important than economic ones. You deserve to be fully compensated for all that you have gone through because of someone else's negligence, and this includes the mental and emotional strain of your injuries and recovery.
Pain and Suffering
Perhaps the most well-known aspect of the non-economic damages that you can get in a successful personal injury lawsuit is for your pain and suffering.
Different injuries come with different levels of pain and suffering. Some injuries, like broken bones, are intensely painful when they happen but rarely have any long-term pain. Other injuries might not be painful when they first happen but come with long-term symptoms that make it difficult to live your daily life. Damages for your pain and suffering cover both of these situations, but might be difficult to put a precise dollar amount on because you are the only one who can feel them and relaying how you feel will always be imprecise. However, rather than opting to leave you uncompensated for these truly painful experiences, a personal injury lawsuit simply leaves this for the jury to figure out.
While some injuries are painful, others can cause a lot of suffering without being painful at all. It would be completely unfair for someone who gets paralyzed in an accident to not be able to recover for their pain and suffering simply because he or she cannot feel the pain, anymore, because of the nerve damage. This is why pain and suffering damages compensate you for other debilitating symptoms that you have to deal with because of your injury, in addition to just the pain. When you suffered a severe head or spinal injury, these can be significant and serious, from chronic nausea to a lack of mobility to vertigo or vision loss. Just because these are not necessarily painful does not mean that they can justifiably be left uncompensated.
Finally, pain and suffering damages cover emotional and mental suffering, in addition to physical issues. If your one love in life was playing softball after work but now your injury prevents you from taking the field, again, that mental suffering of not being able to enjoy yourself should be compensated, as well. Additionally, many injuries come with mental or emotional scarring. Some of them can traumatize victims for years after the fact, and that mental damage can take years to heal. You should be compensated for the mental pain that the injury caused, in addition to the physical pain. The same should be said for emotional pain and suffering. Many injuries leave you scarred or disfigured, which can make it difficult to associate with people normally. In these cases, the emotional strain can be even more severe than the physical pain and suffering.
Loss of Consortium
If you get seriously hurt in an accident, one of the often overlooked victims of your injuries is your family. They count on you for support, and they deserve to be compensated for the time they have to go through without you at their side. This is called their loss of consortium and is another aspect of the non-economic damages that you can get in a personal injury claim.
While economic and non-economic damages are meant to compensate you and, as far as possible, bring you back to where you were before your injuries, punitive damages are meant to punish whoever hurt you.
Punitive damages are only possible in rare circumstances. They often require that the person who hurt you intended to do you harm or was acting so recklessly that your injuries could hardly be called an accident. However, when they are possible, having an effective personal injury attorney can make sure that you benefit from them.
Statutory Caps on Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Some states in the U.S. put a limit on how much you can recover in a personal injury case. These statutory damage caps are controversial because they can put a ceiling on how much you can get in a lawsuit, regardless of how hurt you are. They can leave a victim without enough compensation to make a full recovery.
Luckily, Pennsylvania is not one of these states. In fact, your right to be compensated for your injuries in Pennsylvania is ingrained in our state's constitution.
There is, however, one exception. If you got hurt in an accident that was caused by the state – whether by the state of Pennsylvania or by a local agency – your damages could be limited by statute.
Personal injury lawsuits rarely make it all the way to a jury trial. At some point or another, nearly every case reaches a settlement.
These settlements are often a win both for you and the person you are trying to sue. They put a stop to the court process, which can get expensive and which can lead to a lot of stress and aggravation. However, settlements are legally binding agreements, making them crucial to get right. If you get a settlement offer from the person or company that hurt you, you should always take it to a personal injury lawyer for them to look over before signing it. If it is being offered, you can count on it being favorable to whoever is behind it, and that can mean you are not getting full compensation.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Just because you were hurt in an accident does not mean that you were not a victim. You have rights and do not deserve to have to pay for your injuries when you were not at fault.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is the best way to make sure you get the compensation that you need in order to make a full recovery. Understanding all of the ways that you have been wronged can take a personal injury attorney, who has the necessary legal knowledge and foresight to see how things can go wrong, and how they should be put right.
Contact the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian to get the legal help you need to get the compensation you deserve. Call them at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online.