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How Much Can I Expect to Make from My Personal Injury Case?

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If you have suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation. However, determining how much money you can expect to recover from your personal injury case can be challenging. The compensation award depends on many factors, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of medical expenses and lost wages, and whether the other party is willing to settle or the case goes to trial. The cost of medical care in the US can easily exceed $50k after just three days as an in-patient.

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Here are some key things to know about potential compensation in a personal injury case:

Economic Damages

Economic damages in a personal injury case account for your tangible, out-of-pocket losses due to the accident. This includes medical bills for treatment related to your injuries, as well as lost income from being unable to work. Documented past and estimated future medical expenses, in addition to past and projected lost wages, make up your economic damages claim. Special damages like the costs of medications, medical equipment, and transportation to appointments can also be included. 

The goal is to be fully compensated for all medical costs and income loss stemming from the accident. Have your doctors and employers draft reports detailing your medical treatment, prognosis, and time missed from work due to your injuries. Provide evidence like medical bills, pay stubs, and tax returns. Quantifying these losses makes it easier to justify and recover economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more subjective, involving compensation for your physical pain and emotional suffering resulting from the accident. There is no exact formula for calculating non-economic damages – factors like the severity of your physical injuries, extent and length of treatment, degree of pain, and impact on your life activities and relationships are considered. Plaintiffs must clearly demonstrate and testify about how the accident affected their life and health for a jury to properly evaluate these damages.

Comparable verdicts and settlements, along with an assessment by your personal injury attorney, can help estimate potential non-economic damages. For serious injuries like a TBI, $1 million or more for non-economic damages awards are not uncommon, depending on the circumstances. 

Punitive Damages

In rare cases where the defendant’s behavior was intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent, you may recover punitive damages on top of economic and non-economic losses. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar misconduct. But most states limit when punitive damages can be awarded in personal injury cases. Punitive damages are hard to predict and not awarded very often.

State Damage Caps

Some states have laws capping certain damages in personal injury lawsuits, which limit the potential recovery – particularly for non-economic damages. For example, nine states have capped non-economic damages as of February 2024, including Colorado and Maryland. Caps for medical malpractice are very common, with 26 states having limits on how much can be paid out. In California, there is a cap of $250,000, and in Florida, the cap is $500,000. These damage caps cannot be exceeded no matter how severe the injuries.

The above overview examines the key elements that influence compensation in a personal injury case. But every case is different – there are no guarantees. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney to fully evaluate your potential damages based on the specifics of your situation. From there your lawyer can advise you on possible compensation and closely guide you through the claims process as you seek maximum recovery.

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