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Damages: What You can Collect

One of the easiest ways to understand the different elements, which go into a Personal Injury claim, is to think of it as a three legged stool. You have to have all three legs securely in place or it simply won’t stand up.

In the first article in this series, we gave a general overview of all three of those legs.

  • Liability
  • Damages
  • Collectability

Then in Part Two, we dug deeper into what is involved with proving liability and what you can do to help your lawyer, help you. This week we are going to have a look at what damages are and what you can expect to collect.

What are damages?

The legal definition of damages is; Monetary compensation that is awarded by a court, in a civil action, to an individual, who has been injured through the wrongful conduct of another. In simpler terms, it is the money that the court feels you are due when someone causes you to be hurt.

What damages can you collect?

Under Florida Law, damages may include:

  • Past medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Loss of the capacity of the enjoyment of life
  • Future medical bills
  • Earning capacity
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Aggravation of pre existing condition

Calculating Damages

While the majority of these may seem self explanatory, they are always open to interpretation and that is where you need the advice of an experienced attorney to assist you. Their experience can not only be valuable in establishing your numbers, but in justifying them in your claim.

As an example, future lost wages, most people would look at this and say; Ok, I make fifty thousand a year. I’m 10 years from retirement. So, 50 X 10= 500, my future lost wages will be a half million dollars, wrong.

How many raises and/or promotions could you expect to receive, in the next ten years? How would these changes affect your retirement earnings? How long could you expect to live and draw that retirement? What about your heirs, survivor benefits, from your retirement, will they be affected?

These are all questions that need to be addressed and answered in such a way that they will stand up in a court of law. This is just one example, of one category of damages, used here to illustrate all the different factors that may come into play when you start determining, what is a fair and equitable settlement, in a personal injury case.

Remember, nothing is simple when you are trying to collect money, from an insurance company and very little is simple when dealing with the law.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Despite what many believe the law is not a static thing. There are new laws being passed and old laws being modified on a daily basis. Beyond that even, there is case law, the legal principle that like cases should be decided in a like manner, which has to be taken into account.

If you have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence, do yourself a favor, contact a qualified personal injury attorney. It is their job to understand your rights and to see that you obtain all of the damages that you can possibly receive in your case.