Personal Injury Damages: What You Need to Know

In a personal injury case, the complaint alleges that the defendant engaged in conduct–or failed to take actions–that caused injuries and other damages to the plaintiff. The defendant’s behavior is typically described as negligent, reckless, careless, or illegal.

The lawsuit’s goal is to compensate the plaintiff with a monetary award or settlement so that the plaintiff is “made whole” for those damages. Plaintiffs make claims for both economic damages (for example, plaintiff missed time from work and lost income) and non-economic damages (plaintiff experienced pain and suffering).

The underlying legal concept is that the damages should restore the plaintiff to their condition before the injuries/accident took place. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. In those cases, the damages should compensate for the permanent changes the injuries caused to the plaintiff’s life.

These are the most common types of damages claimed in a personal injury case:

Medical Expenses

This form of damages compensates the plaintiff for the out-of-pocket doctor bills and other medical expenses (hospital stays, therapy, tests) that have already been incurred as well as those expenses the plaintiff will need to pay in the future because of their injuries. In cases involving serious injuries, the plaintiff may need a lifetime of medical care resulting in a lifetime of medical expenses. All of those expenses should be paid by the defendant even if they won’t be incurred until years later.

Lost Wages & Income

Like medical expenses, damages for lost income are claimed for both past periods and the future. The plaintiff must be compensated for lost wages or income from missed workdays–even if paid vacation or sick days were used–because of his injuries and the medical treatment that followed.

If the plaintiff is temporarily or permanently disabled from working in the future because of their injuries, the plaintiff is also entitled to those lost future earnings.

In some cases, the situation is more complicated – the plaintiff can still work, but because of their injuries, can no longer perform the same job they did before the defendant caused them harm. For example, a plaintiff with a construction site job that requires heavy lifting may be physically unable to do that job because of the injuries caused by the defendant. If the plaintiff cannot earn as much money because they can’t do a heavy lifting job, then the defendant is responsible for compensating the plaintiff for the difference in earnings between their current lower-paying job and the prior higher-paying job.

Non-Economic Damages

These are the damages that are much harder to calculate than economic damages because they are designed to compensate a plaintiff for the non-monetary toll that the defendant’s harms have caused on their life. People usually refer to non-economic damages as “pain and suffering,” however, non-economic damages also include embarrassment and humiliation, loss of life’s pleasures and, in some cases, disfigurement.

Non-economic damages are sometimes thought to be calculated as a multiple of the economic damages, but this is no longer an accurate rule of thumb. The impact of the personal harms and losses suffered in an accident is unique to each individual case and most settlements and verdicts do not adhere to a specific formula. At Aversa & Linn, we always seek damages to compensate our clients for ALL of the harms caused by the defendant and we will always make sure that the full extent of your injuries is fully understood by the defendant’s lawyers and any judge or jury that hears your case.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium damages compensate an uninjured spouse for the harm done to their day-to-day relationship with the injured spouse. A loss of consortium claim isn’t brought as a separate lawsuit–the uninjured spouse joins the lawsuit brought by the injured spouse. In Pennsylvania, only an uninjured spouse can make a claim for loss of consortium (an unmarried plaintiff cannot be joined in a lawsuit by a significant other, even if the relationship with the non-spouse has suffered harm).

Wrongful death

Damages for wrongful death are awarded to the family members of the injured victim if they file a claim following the victim’s death. In Pennsylvania, wrongful death claims are brought by the victim’s executor or personal representative (usually named in the victim’s will) on behalf of the victim’s surviving spouse, children and parents.

Wrongful death damages include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Hospital and medical expenses
  • Estate administration expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits, including the amount the deceased would have been expected to contribute to the family’s income if he or she were still alive
  • Compensation for the loss of household services, companionship, and comfort provided by the deceased
  • Compensation for pain and suffering

Contact Aversa & Linn

If you have been injured, or a family member has been injured or died because of an accident or other incident caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct, the lawyers at Aversa & Linn can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 215-751-1717 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.