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Types of “Damages” In a Personal Injury Claim

September 18, 2022 Personal Injury

When you are injured by someone’s negligence, you can collect compensation for the different types of ways you were harmed. The word “damages” is the legal term for the types of harm you have suffered.

In Alabama personal injury claims, here are the types of damages you can seek:

1. Medical Bills

When you are injured, you will have medical bills. If the medical bills are from treatment that was caused by the wrongdoer, then you can seek medical bills as damages.

If you have health insurance (including Medicare and Medicaid), then it is likely your medical bills were partially paid.  If so, then your health insurance has a right to be reimbursed out of any settlement.  This is called “subrogation.”

If you do not have health insurance, read our article about how to pay for medical bills right after you get hurt.

2. Future Medical Bills

A personal injury settlement, unlike a workers’ compensation claim, does not remain open forever.  Once there is a settlement, it is final and cannot be re-opened to pay for medical treatment years post-settlement.

However, in limited situations, a settlement can include future medical bills.  To recover the cost of future medical bills, a doctor must state in writing or under oath that it is “reasonably certain” that future medical treatment will be needed.

3. Pain & Future Pain

You can seek compensation for pain endured after an accident. The amount of compensation for pain depends on the nature and severity of your injuries.

In Alabama, there is no formula for how much money is reasonable to compensate an injured person for their pain. In fact, the judge instructs the jury that there is no such formula at a personal injury trial.

You can also seek compensation for future pain.  As with seeking future medical bills, a doctor must state that it is reasonably certain that you will have pain in the future.

4. Mental Anguish

Mental anguish is a type of damages defined as “emotional distress” resulting from being injured. This includes anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, and stress.  If you have been hurt, you already know the worrying and stress is almost as bad as the physical injury.

Just like pain, there is no formula for determining the amount of compensation for someone’s mental anguish.  If a settlement cannot be reached, a jury will decide the issue based on the evidence.

5. Lost Wages

If you are unable to work after an accident, then you will have lost wages.  Lost wages usually must be proven with documentation.  The documentation needed to prove lost wages can be a letter from your employer or tax returns showing a drop in income.

6. Loss of Earning Capacity & Future Lost Wages

In cases with severe injuries, a person may be permanently unable to perform the work they formerly performed.  In such cases, we hire a vocational expert to review all available evidence to determine whether someone is vocationally disabled.

If there is a vocational disability, this will translate to a loss of future income. Our expert calculates this amount based on an average work life expectancy.  The total amount must also be reduced to present value, which is an economic calculation that Alabama courts require for the evidence to be admissible.

7. Disfigurement

Disfigurement is a type of damages where an injured person has suffered an injury that changes their appearance.  The most common example is a scar from a laceration.  Other disfiguring injuries include decubitus ulcers from nursing home negligence and skin grafts from burn injuries.

8. Permanent Injury

You can seek an additional element of damages if your injury is permanent.  To collect this element of damage, a doctor must state in writing or under oath that it is more likely than not that your injury will not improve.

Our attorneys prefer to use government-issued mortality tables. These mortality tables can be offered into evidence to show our client’s life expectancy.  We can then ask a jury for a dollar amount for every year our client will suffer from the permanent injury.

We Try to Collect on All Types of Damages Possible

Not every personal injury case will have all types of damages. For example, some people are retired and will not have lost wages.  Or some people were hurt, but do not have a permanent injury.

We examine every client’s case to see what damages are applicable.  We gather evidence to support every type of damage our client has sustained. Our attorneys always work to maximize the amount of compensation available to our clients.