In a Texas personal injury claim, economic damages are the types of compensation that you probably think of first: things like your medical bills and lost wages. Economic damages are usually easy to calculate in dollars and cents terms. They equal the amounts that came out of your own pocket and that someone else, such as your healthcare provider, has billed you for.
Types of Economic Damages
Economic damages can include any tangible loss or expense that can readily translate into a cash value.
Personal injury victims can claim compensation for all medical expenses, including expenses for:
- Ambulance transport;
- Emergency room treatment;
- Hospital bills;
- Doctor appointments;
- Lab testing;
- Prescription medication;
- Physical therapy; and
- Pain management treatment.
Typically, a personal injury victim will not file a claim until they reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), the point at which their doctor expects no further improvement in their condition. It is much easier to calculate a damages claim once you reach MMI.
Future Medical Expenses
If you have not reached MMI before you file a lawsuit, you will probably have to claim future medical expenses.
Claiming future medical expenses will be more difficult than claiming past medical expenses because they are inherently speculative. Who knows what might happen in the future? You will probably need an expert witness to help you calculate your anticipated future expenses.
Lost income is usually easiest to calculate if you are being paid by the hour. They are only slightly more difficult to calculate if you are paid by monthly salary. However, determining the amount of lost income can be difficult if you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur.
If you are employed, you can seek records from your employer, such as pay stubs and electronic payment receipts. If you are an entrepreneur, more extensive business records might be necessary. It can be particularly difficult to document lost business opportunities. You can also submit past tax returns.
Diminished Earning Capacity
“Diminished earning capacity” refers to the loss of earnings you may suffer (and may have already suffered) because of the accident. Will you be able to return to your former position at your old salary? Or will you be forced into part-time work because of your injuries? Perhaps you will never be able to work again.
If your injuries seriously impact your ability to earn money, you will almost certainly need an expert witness to help you calculate the full value of your claim.
You might incur various miscellaneous expenses as a direct or indirect consequence of your injuries. These expenses might include:
- Child care;
- Home nursing and personal care;
- Medical-related travel expenses; and
- Legal fees.
Most courts are reluctant to award legal fees, and opposing parties in settlement negotiations will not even consider them.
Strictly speaking, property damage is not part of a personal injury case. Nevertheless, they often go together, especially in car accident claims. Any type of property can be the subject of a property damage claim.
Most personal injury claims settle before trial. In some cases, the parties must resort to mediation to reach a settlement. Once the parties agree on an amount, your lawyer should draft a formal settlement agreement. If both parties sign it and the opposing party still refuses to pay, you can sue them under the settlement agreement just as you would sue under any other contract.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you die as a result of your injuries, your spouse, children, and parents can file a wrongful death claim. Economic damages for wrongful death include compensation for lost earning capacity and lost inheritance.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity means the amount of money the victim would have earned if the accident had not happened. This can be a small amount if the victim is a low-wage earner who is approaching retirement. It could add up to a fortune if the victim was young and earned a high income. Establishing a claim for lost earning incapacity frequently requires the testimony of an expert witness.
Your potential heirs can seek damages for any potential diminishment in their inheritance caused by your death. This element of damages is quite speculative.
Hire a Bedford Personal Injury Lawyer To Make Sure You Walk Away With Every Dime You Deserve
Insurance companies, who pay most personal injury claims, absolutely love two types of claimants. One type is the claimant who seeks to “go it alone” without a lawyer. These claimants often fail to realize the true value of their claim.
The other type of claimant is the one who hires “my cousin Vinnie” to represent them. Your best bet is to ignore both of these options and hire a seasoned Bedford personal injury lawyer to fight for you.