Because there are so many factors contributing to a judge’s decision—and because parties sometimes settle out of court—it’s tough to predict how much you’ll receive in damages if you win a lawsuit. However, there are common themes that run through many personal injury cases and some things will almost certainly affect the amount of money you receive in damages.
The Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Before we talk about what affects the potential damages you’ll recover, it’s important that you know there are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damage is intended for you, the victim, to replace money you lost by not being able to work or pay hospital bills. Compensatory damages in a personal injury case are for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other reasons.
Punitive damages are given to the injured party, but their purpose is different: they’re intended to punish the guilty party for contributing to your injury.
Who’s at Fault?
It’s essential to determine who’s at fault for your injury. Sometimes a jury will find that you’re partially responsible, and if that’s the case, you’ll likely end up receiving less in damages. On the other side of the coin, you may be completely innocent and the jury cannot find any fault with your actions. In that case, the person or business responsible for your injury will likely have to compensate you.
How Responsible Were You with Your Injury?
If you wait to seek medical treatment until your condition becomes worse, you may not be entitled to receive as much in damages if you would have you sought treatment immediately. Let’s say you had a neck injury that could’ve been treated immediately, but you waited until your back also began to hurt, causing back problems that could have been prevented by treatment of the neck injury. That’s not always the case, so it’s best to talk to your personal injury lawyer before you jump to any conclusions.
How Capable Is the Defendant of Paying?
In some cases, the defendant is completely unable to pay. A homeowner who is responsible for your injury, for example, but does not have homeowner’s insurance or any source of income, may not be able to pay for expenses related to your medical care. While this is unfortunate, it does happen sometimes. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your attorney about who’s really responsible for your injury and to find out whether you have a case.
It’s essential that you hire an attorney who works on a contingency basis. That means she won’t get paid unless you are awarded damages. Additionally, make sure your lawyer is willing to give you a free consultation. That can save both of you time and hassle.