WHAT DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?


There are two general categories of damages in a personal injury action. First, recovery is allowed for economic damages. These usually consist of property damages, wages lost in the past, the loss of ability or diminished ability to earn wages in the future, medical and related expenses incurred in the past, and medical and related expenses to be incurred in the future. These damages are often proved by itemizing medical bills and sometimes an economist is used to help calculate the future economic losses in substantial cases.


In addition to economic damages, an injured party may recover non-economic damages which consist of pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life. There is no exact standard for these damages and the jury has wide discretion in the amount to be awarded.


In the case of a spouse of an injured person, the non-injured spouse may recover damages for the loss of his or her spouse’s companionship, services, comforts and society.


In cases where a parent is totally and permanently disabled as a result of the wrongdoer’s actions, a minor child may recover for loss of parental companionship, guidance, and services until the age of majority.


In the case of an injured child, the parents may recover any economic damages that they have suffered but the recovery for non-economic damages belongs to the child. These cases must be approved by the court before they are settled and the portion of the money belonging to the child, which is the vast majority of the money recovered, must go into a guardianship account, trust fund, annuity, or other protected account, and cannot be used without an explicit court order.