Available Money Damages In Injury Cases

People often wonder what money damages they can recover in an injury case, that is what is their injury claim value.

A person  injured by another’s negligence has the right to recover both the economic losses (lost earnings, medical bills etc.) and “non-economic damages” under Idaho law.   Although there are some complexities, the idea of economic loss is pretty easy to understand.   Medical bills lost income and straight forward out of pocket expenses caused by an injury are recoverable as damages in an injury lawsuit.

For many, maybe most, people the harder thing to get their brain around is this idea of non-economic damages.

The term non-economic damages a bit of lawyer-talk “gobbeldy-gook.”  This part of a claim value  is also called the “general damages.”   in my view is better thought of as “quality of life” compensation or  the “make up for” damages

What Does Quality of Life Compensation Represent?

Quality of life compensation is about more than merely pain and suffering.  It is about a person’s life.  Juries (and lawyers and insurance companies truth be told) often find it difficult to place a dollar value on these quality of life damages.  Such items are part of a person’s internal, subjective experience after the injury.  There is no way to “verify” these losses.   

Quality of life damages that impact injury claim value include compensation for personal physical discomfort (pain) as well as for emotional worry, fear, humiliation or concern (suffering).  But such quality of life damages can include much more. Things like the inability to engage in a physical activity (can you play with your kids or walk up the stairs).  And other things like  damage to reputation, the experience of disgrace, a physical mutilation or deformity, sterility, loss of an organ, the loss of enjoyment of living, a loss of companionship by the death of a loved one, or a loss of affection from another.  In short, many many intangible things are  part of these quality of life damages.

This part of a personal  injury claim can be particularly important for a personal injury claimant who does not earn a living outside of the home like children, retired people, or a homemaker. 

Things The Jury or Insurance Company Looks at When Evaluating Injury Claim Value And Quality of Life Damages

A wide range of variables must be considered when trying to determine an injury claim value and an appropriate amount of compensation for these damages.  Experience has shown us that it is a very complicated question that has to be evaluated on a case by case basis.  This is because there are many factors that influence the end result.  Not all of the things that DO influence a value evaluation SHOULD influence the evaluation.  But among the factors that we have seen that influence a decision-maker’s view of the appropriate amount of compensation are:

  •        The Injured Person’s Age
  •        Effort’s made to Minimize (“Mitigate”) Any Losses
  •        Educational Background
  •        Work History
  •        Personality
  •        Geographic Location
  •        Whether Liability is Clear or Subject to Battle
  •        Comparative fault
  •        Severity of Injuries
  •        Expected Future Consequences of the Injury
  •        The Nature of the Bad Guy’s Act (i.e Drunk Driver or Momentarily inattentive)
  •        Socio-Economic Status or Wealth of the Parties
  •        Witness testimony
  •        The presence or absence of insurance
  •        Make-up of the jury
  •        Appearance of the Injured Person

Quality of Life Damages Provide Compensation Not Punishment

Injury accidents change people’s lives in many ways.   Quality of life damages try to make up for those changes.  For example, one spouse’s physical and emotional injuries may place an otherwise solid marriage under huge tensions and create conflicts where none were.    Parents whose child is killed because of the recklessness or negligence of another find their live torn asunder and face lasting consequences in their own relationship because of the death.   Such losses in one sense are unquantifiable. But the award is not about punishing the wrong doer.  Instead the award is about compensating the person suffering the loss.  Difficult to measure quality of life damages and injury claim value should not be confused with punishing or punitive damages.

There is No Formula For Calculating Quality of Life Damages

In no area of evaluating an injury claim is a professional understanding more important than in dealing with these quality of life issues.  Particularly for people who are severely injured, an individualized assessment by a top quality personal injury attorney who is committed to helping you is imperative.  The insurance company for the person who hurt you or a family member is not your good neighbor, on your side or holding you in good hands.  We are happy to provide a free initial consultation about your Idaho personal injury or accident claim.

Just call us at (208) 343-7510.

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