What types of damages can be recovered in a personal injury claim?

by Geddyfan on October 2, 2013

For people who have been injured in an accident in Washington State, the law states that the injured party is entitled to be compensated for their losses, inasmuch as this can be accomplished with money. In general, damages in a personal injury claim are awarded for the purpose of placing the victim in the position that they would have been in if the injury had not taken place.

The attorneys of Brett Murphy have been handling major personal injury and wrongful death claims for more than four decades. They have created an information video that explains the different types of damages that can be recovered in a claim. They have also created a video with information on how the insurance claims process works, so that folks have a good idea of what to expect as they move through the process.

Compensation in a personal injury case comes in six different forms:

1. Property damage – This includes the full repair or replacement cost of your vehicle that has been damaged in the crash, as well as any other equipment or property that is damaged.

2. Medical expenses to date – If your health insurance plan has been paying your medical bills, you do have to pay them back out of the settlement or verdict you receive. While a good attorney can often negotiate with the insurance company to reduce the amount you need to pay back, the basic rule is that you are entitled to have your medical bills to date paid in full. Often an injured person is still undergoing medical treatment when a claim is made or a lawsuit is filed. In this case, medical expenses continue to grow and their cost needs to be evaluated and included in any settlement or verdict.

3. Future medical expenses – You are entitled to a sum of money which will be sufficient to pay your estimated future medical bills. Included in your settlement is a one-time lump sum payment for all anticipated future medical care. A good attorney has methods to estimate the cost of future care, including obtaining from a doctor a diagnosis, a prognosis (what is likely to occur in the future), and a treatment plan, and then convert that to a dollar figure representing future medical care.

4. Lost wages to date – Your employer provides this information to be factored into your claim. This is more challenging when you are self employed, but typically this is mainly a matter of collecting your earnings data.

5. Lost future earning capacity – If you are temporarily or permanently, partially or completely unable to work, you are entitled to a lump sum representing the difference between the amount you could have earned before the injury and the amount you can earn now. This is determined by hiring experts who conduct a physical capacity evaluation and vocational rehabilitation, and then quantify the impact of the injury on your employment by obtaining a written opinion from an expert in economic loss.

6. General damages for pain, suffering, disability, and disfigurement – This is the most difficult item to evaluate. You are entitled to be compensated for a life changing injury, but what is the appropriate monetary value to be compensated for ongoing pain or life-changing disability? Your lawyer will have to convince the insurance company – or a jury – of the impact of the injury on your life, and will need to determine what dollar amount is fair, to enable you to reduce your general damages as much as money is able.

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is very difficult, especially when serious injuries are involved. Whether someone decides to try to handle the insurance claim process personally or decides to hire an attorney, these different types of compensation need to be evaluated and included in any settlement negotiation.

I am a personal injury attorney who has been practicing throughout Washington State for more than 40 years.

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