If you were raised in a family that considered talking about money taboo, this is probably not the blog post for you. Because we’re going to talk a lot about money. A lot.
Every single one of our clients wants to know “how much is my case worth?” But many clients are afraid to ask because our society brainwashes us into thinking that talking about money is rude or low-class.
Talking about money is important though, so we are going to do that here. And we encourage all of our clients and potential clients to do so as well when they meet with us at our office in Hackensack.
How much is my case worth?
The purpose of filing a personal injury lawsuit is just compensation. The courts determine who is at fault, and how much money it will take to put the innocent party in the position they would have been in had their injury never occurred.
How courts determine who is at fault is a topic for another day. What we are focusing on today is the compensation part of “just compensation.” To calculate how much money it will take to put the innocent party in the position they would have been in had their injury never occurred, the court looks for evidence of the injury and how much it has cost the plaintiff.
The first thing the court will consider are actual compensatory damages. These are losses that are easy to calculate because you have a receipt or a pay stub that tells the court how much you are owed.
You should be paid back for any and all medical expenses that can be tied to the injury you suffered. Save the invoices and receipts for every doctor’s visit, pharmacy refill, and physical therapy appointment related to your injury so there is no question about how much you have already paid out of pocket. Future medical costs are also compensable. It is essential to hire an expert who can estimate how much future medical care you will need and how much it will cost.
If you were in a car accident, and your car was totaled, the person responsible for causing the accident should pay for it, not you. It’s that simple.
Whether your injury prevented you from working for a few days, or will put you on disability for the rest of your life, you should be paid back for the income you lost or will lose due to the accident. Families who suffer the loss of a loved one can also seek compensation for the income that person would have generated for the rest of his or her life.
Courts will also attempt to compensate you for the general disruption to your life that a personal injury causes. Clearly, the court can’t put your life in the place it was in before the accident occurred, so it does the best it can by compensating you for a few things that are less concrete than the damages above, but are still important.
Pain and Suffering
In this world there are optimists and pessimists. There are people with a high tolerance for pain, and those that would go to the hospital for a papercut. How much pain and suffering your injury causes you depends largely on what sort of person you are, and what is going on in your life at the time of the accident. The courts will look at your life and how it has changed and attempt to determine how much you have suffered as a result of your injury. Then they will put a price on it. This is obviously not an exact science, but it is important for the courts to recognize that a lot of the damage done when someone is in an accident is not financial.
If the injury you suffered was particularly traumatic you may be awarded damages to compensate you for how awful living through it was and is.
Loss of Consortium
Couples who are no longer able to enjoy life together as they once did may be eligible for damages to compensate them for loss of consortium, or companionship.
In really egregious cases, a court may award damages beyond compensatory damages. When the defendant purposely caused harm, or acted extremely recklessly, the court may award punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are awarded in relatively few cases because as we said before, the goal of the courts is just compensation, not punishment.
Money is not going to make your pain go away, or allow you to forget the awful day your accident occurred, but it is the only tool the court has to work with. If you have been in an accident or suffered an injury, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be eligible for.
Posted in: Personal Injury