The damages you may be entitled to in a personal injury lawsuit are intended to make you whole for your injuries and losses. This includes compensation for economic losses, as well as damages to cover intangible losses such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. Punitive damages may also be available in limited circumstances.
Personal injury damages are divided into two categories: economic or special damages and compensatory or general damages. Special damages include compensation for lost income or wages, while general damages include compensation for pain and suffering and emotional harm.
Compensation for Medical Bills and Costs
If you sustain injuries as a result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to full coverage of all of your medical bills, without facing co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses.
Medical bills may include those for:
- Surgical treatments
- Physical therapy
- Hospital stays
- Doctor visits
- Chiropractic care
- Adaptive medical devices
- Nursing care (in home or inpatient)
- Rehabilitation costs
- Transportation to medical treatment
Any expenses necessary for treatment of medical problems may be covered. This may include costs to treat both the physical injuries the incident caused and the additional injuries that indirectly result from the accident, such as therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, for example.
If your injuries have not healed when your case is resolved, or if they are expected to be permanent, then you may be compensated for future medical expenses as well. A physician may be consulted to provide testimony on the medical costs you expect to incur in the future. The lifetime treatment costs associated with injuries can be substantial in some cases.
Compensation for Lost Income
If your injuries cause you to miss work, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost income. Even if you were able to use sick leave or vacation days to cover your absence, you could still be entitled to compensation for the missed work.
In many cases, injuries affect earning power for the rest of the victim’s life. If you are permanently unable to work or if your injuries limit you to a job with lower pay, you may receive compensation for future lost wages. A number of factors are taken into account, including your salary and career trajectory prior to the injury, your age and your education and career skills.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensation encompasses all of the discomfort that you experience from your injuries and their consequences. Not only may you receive compensation for the mental and physical discomfort your injuries cause, but you may also be compensated for any reduction in your quality of life or limitations on your ability to engage in daily activities.
Calculating pain and suffering compensation is challenging because it is hard to put a dollar value on discomfort and emotional losses. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help make a convincing argument about the amount of compensation you deserve for the pain, suffering and discomfort you experienced due to your accident.
Punitive damages are another type of damages that may be available in personal injury lawsuits. Unlike the other types of compensation, these damages are not intended as compensation for specific losses, but are instead targeted at punishing the defendant for wrongful acts.
There are limits on when punitive damages are awarded, and they are not appropriate in every case. Section 15-32-510 of the South Carolina Code says that plaintiffs may seek punitive damages in personal injury complaints, although they cannot demand a specific amount.
Punitive damages may be awarded to plaintiffs when the harm to the victim was caused by willful or reckless conduct, which the plaintiffs must prove.
The judge or jury will consider a variety of factors in determining an appropriate amount of punitive damages, including:
- The defendant’s degree of culpability.
- The severity of the harm.
- The extent to which the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the accident and injuries.
- The duration of the defendant’s conduct.
- Whether the defendant concealed the wrongful acts or attempted to.
- How aware the defendant was of the risk he or she created.
- The ability of the defendant to pay punitive damages.
- Whether the defendant profited from the conduct.
- How likely it is that punitive damages will deter the defendant or others from acting in a similar way.
- Whether any criminal penalties were imposed on the defendant.
- Whether the defendant faced any civil fines because of the actions.
South Carolina law also stipulates that punitive damages may not exceed either $500,000 or three times the amount of the compensatory damages that a plaintiff receives, except in certain limited circumstances where the defendant’s conduct was for unreasonable financial gain or could be considered a felony.
Obtaining Compensation for a Personal Injury
The stronger the proof of the extent of your injuries and the better your evidence of the defendant’s wrongdoing, the greater your chances are of being able to secure full and fair compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer at Joye Law Firm can help you make a compelling case to obtain the personal injury compensation you deserve.
We are ready to help you get started in a telephone conversation and free initial legal consultation. Call Joye Law Firm. We’re at (888) 324-3100 or we can be reached through this online contact form. Our law firm has offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, and Columbia, and we assist injured people from around South Carolina.