Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury lawsuits are those filed against a negligent party for damages in an accident. The injuries are a direct result of negligence, and the at-fault party or their insurer is responsible for them. The damages are clearly defined by the State of South Carolina. There are different types of damages, and that is what we are about to examine.
Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case
There are two main types of damages. They are labeled compensatory and punitive or exemplary. Compensatory damages compensate the individual or their family in the event of a wrongful death lawsuit for the financial loss they suffered. Punitive damages, which are often much higher, punish the wrongdoer.
This category is further broken down into two subtypes, both of which compensate the injured party or their family for their loss. They are:
- Economic damages: These damages repay financial loss that can be easily verified. For instance, the cost of medical treatment in the present and the future and current and future lost wages, including bonuses and benefits are included. The injured party is able to prove the loss using medical bills and ledgers showing wage schedules. If the injured party is a freelancer, they can use tax returns or client verifications. Other examples of economic damages would be the cost of household services normally done by the injured person and the loss of business opportunities lost due to the injury.
- Non-economic damages: These represent loss due to non-economic damages the injured party suffers. Such damages include emotional distress, anxiety, pain, inconvenience, suffering, the loss of life’s enjoyment and loss of companionship. The losses in this category are subjective and differ in each case. Loss of consortium is another element of non-economic damages. This type of damage is that suffered by a spouse or family member due to the injuries suffered by their loved one. The spouse loses the companionship, love, affection and sexual relations previously enjoyed.
Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Punitive damages are caused by egregious actions that result in injuries or death. They are not meant to compensate someone but rather to punish the person who performed the act. They are also used as a deterrent against other similar actions. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory ones.
Requesting Punitive Damages
The plaintiff can ask for punitive damages in their lawsuit against the defendant, but they are not able to specify an amount. The plaintiff must prove that the actions that led to the accident were willful, wanton and reckless. To do this, clear and convincing evidence must be provided. While the evidence needed in this case is not on the same level as the beyond a reasonable doubt type that is used in a criminal case, it is above the preponderance of the evidence normally used in a personal injury lawsuit.
Many times, a person who committed egregious acts is also charged in a criminal case. In this situation, the proof needed to convict someone of a criminal charge can be used in a personal injury case. This higher level of evidence is useful as your attorney works to successfully conclude your claim.
Determining Punitive Damages
Some of the factors that go into the jury’s determination of punitive damages are listed below:
- The egregious act
- The amount the jury thinks it will take to avoid similar behavior in the future
- How much it will take to balance the injured party’s loss
Morris Law in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
At Morris Law, our investigators, economic advisors and attorneys work together to ensure that you will receive the damages you deserve. This type of teamwork makes it possible for us to build a strong case for our clients. Call us at (843) 232-0944 to schedule a free case review. You can also contact us online.