Damages in a personal injury case are the amount of compensation awarded to an injured person (or plaintiff). This includes any type of personal injury accident, including car accident, slip and fall injury, dog bite, or other injury accidents. Damages are generally grouped as economic and general, and in some cases, the plaintiff may be able to claim punitive damages.
Economic Damages in Iowa Personal Injury Cases
Economic damages are also called “special damages.” Economic damages are calculated based on the exact cost of treatment the plaintiff received and money lost or spent by the plaintiff as a result of the accident.
Medical Bills and Prescription Costs
Plaintiffs in a personal injury case can request compensation for all medical bills and rehabilitation costs even if the treatment was paid for by the plaintiff's health insurance. Plaintiffs can receive compensation for the cost of prescriptions and items like crutches needed to assist the plaintiff during their recovery.
Personal injury claimants can request compensation for any property damage associated with their claim. The most common example is the property damage is the cost of car repairs after a motor vehicle accident. Plaintiffs may also be compensated for personal items which were broken or damaged during an accident such as eyeglasses.
Plaintiffs are entitled to receive compensation for lost wages. Many people miss several days or weeks of work following an accident. Plaintiffs can request compensation for work missed while they are attending doctor visits and physical therapy.
Damages for Future Economic Losses
If an injury is serious enough to cause disability, a plaintiff may be able to claim damages for future economic losses for further medical treatment and projected lost wages.
Future economic loss for lost income is based on the plaintiff's prior education, work experience and the job that they held when the accident occurred. If the plaintiff was permanently disabled and is no longer able to perform any job at all, the plaintiff may ask for damages equivalent to what they would have likely earned during the rest of their career until retirement.
If the plaintiff can still work but cannot do the type of job that they did before, the plaintiff may ask for damages for the difference between what they could have earned if the accident had never occurred and the amount that they will likely earn until retirement.
Non-economic damages are also called general damages. These are damages which not associated with a dollar amount—pain and suffering, for example. Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate because they can be subjective.
Pain and Suffering
Damages for pain and suffering are based on the pain the plaintiff had to go through as a result of the accident. Pain is subjective and affects individuals differently, but damages for pain are generally based on the severity of an injury and time spent recovering.
Loss of Enjoyment
If a plaintiff is no longer able to do activities that he or she once enjoyed like participating in sports and other hobbies, the plaintiff may be able to claim damages for loss of enjoyment. Loss of future enjoyment of life claims involve injuries that are serious enough to limit the plaintiff's activities in the future.
If a plaintiff has suffered emotional distress as a result of an accident, this sometimes falls into the category of both economic and non-economic damages. For example, if a plaintiff needed to see a therapist after an accident for increased anxiety, their claim would include medical bills and non-economic damages for emotional distress.
In cases that involve permanent disfigurement as a result of an accident such as facial scarring or the loss of a limb, the plaintiff may be able to claim damages for emotional distress.
Loss of Consortium
In some cases, the plaintiff's spouse can file a claim for loss of consortium. Damages for loss of consortium may appropriate when the plaintiff's injuries interfere with their relationship with his or her spouse. The spouse may be entitled to file their own claim based on loss of consortium, but the claim is often filed along with the accident victim's lawsuit.
Punitive damages are not usually available in a simple negligence case. Punitive damages are only available when the defendant's conduct was especially egregious. It may be possible to recover punitive damages in cases involving drunk or exceedingly careless drivers and cases that involve an injury that was inflicted by the defendant intentionally.
What should I do if I was involved in an accident in Iowa?
If you have been injured in a car accident, call Shawn Smith today to schedule a consultation. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident so that important evidence is not lost and your attorney can start working on your case right away. Contact the Smith Law Firm, PC using our online form or call (515) 451-1260.