If you're ever injured in an accident, be it an automobile accident or a slip and fall case or even health related difficulties as a result of a defective product, recovering from your injuries can be an expensive pursuit. Medical bills can quickly pile up. Time taken off from work to recuperate can mean a loss of income. The costs can be unimaginable. Damages in personal injury claims are meant to compensate you for losses when another party is at fault for your injuries.
But what is the value of your personal injury claim? The question isn't often an easy one to answer. There are a wide range of types of damages in personal injury cases, all meant to make “whole” the injured party for one are of loss or injury.
Personal injury damages are paid by the individual or entity determined to be legally responsible for the accident that caused the injuries. In many cases, damages are arrived at by agreed upon settlement (by all parties involved, the insurers and/or their attorneys). When a settlement cannot be reached, a court trial may yield damages ordered by a judge or jury.
Compensatory damages in personal injury cases are intended to compensate the injured party for their loss resulting from an accident. They are meant to make the plaintiff monetarily “whole” in as much as is possible. In actuality, it's not easy to set a dollar amount to reflect many of the losses people experience in an accident. Of course, medical costs can be calculated, documented and remunerated dollar for dollar. Lost wages can be determined, of course, also. But something like pain and suffering or loss of consortium cannot necessarily be so easily represented in a monetary value. So courts try to make the plaintiff whole by evaluating the level of loss or pain or other intangible outcome from the accident.
Medical treatment, loss of income, loss of property, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium (damages to a personal relationship such as a spouse via loss of companionship or sexual relationship).
Punitive damages in personal injury cases are those meant to punish the defendant monetarily for particularly egregious negligent actions. These damages are often awarded in addition to compensatory damages. The point of punitive damages is to send a message to the defendant and create a deterrent.
Plaintiffs themselves can often impact their own damage awards by action or inaction in some cases. Illinois law mandates that plaintiffs who are partially responsible for the accident in question share also in the damages in their case. As such, if their “share” of the responsibility is deemed to be 50% or more than that of the defendant, they will receive no award in the case. This is called Modified Comparative Negligence.
When plaintiffs, however, do not act to mitigate damages following the accident, courts can often reduce the damages in their case because plaintiffs are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure they get necessary medical treatment directly following the accident. Delaying treatment may worsen injuries and increase expected damages.
If you have been injured as a result of an accident, it is important to seek the counsel of experienced personal injury attorneys like those of Panio Law Offices in Chicago. We understand Illinois personal injury law and the wide array of damages plaintiffs are eligible to receive in many of these cases. We will work hard for you to recover the damages you deserve and get back to the course of living your life. Call us at (708) 928-8680. We can help.