When you’ve suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. The damages you can pursue in such a case can help cover the financial and non-financial losses you’ve incurred as a result of the injury. In St. Louis, personal injury lawyers are dedicated to helping victims understand the types of damages available and to guide them through the legal process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various types of damages you can seek in a personal injury lawsuit and the role of a St. Louis personal injury lawyer in helping you secure the compensation you deserve.
Economic damages are tangible losses that have a clear monetary value. These are the most straightforward type of damages to calculate and often include:
- Medical Expenses: This encompasses all costs related to the treatment of your injuries, including hospital bills, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and any future medical expenses that may be necessary.
- Lost Wages: If your injury has caused you to miss work, you can seek compensation for your lost income. This includes not only the wages you’ve already missed but also any future income that you will be unable to earn due to your injuries.
- Property Damage: In cases like car accidents, property damage refers to the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or personal belongings.
- Home Modifications: In cases where an injury results in a disability, you may seek compensation for modifications to your home to accommodate your condition, such as ramps or handrails.
- Rehabilitation Costs: These include the expenses associated with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other forms of rehabilitation aimed at helping you recover.
Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are intangible losses that do not have a specific dollar amount attached to them. These damages aim to compensate you for the emotional and psychological impact of the injury and typically include:
- Pain and Suffering: This refers to the physical and emotional distress you’ve experienced due to the injury. It can encompass ongoing pain, discomfort, and the overall impact on your quality of life.
- Emotional Distress: Personal injuries can lead to various emotional challenges, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Compensation for emotional distress seeks to alleviate these burdens.
- Loss of Consortium: In cases where an injury affects your relationships, loss of consortium damages may be available. These damages compensate the injured party’s spouse for the loss of companionship and affection.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If your injury has significantly limited your ability to engage in activities you once enjoyed, you can seek compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are different from economic and non-economic damages in that their primary purpose is not to compensate the injured party but to punish the wrongdoer and deter them from similar behavior in the future. In Missouri, punitive damages are rarely awarded and are typically reserved for cases involving extreme recklessness, intentional harm, or gross negligence.
Wrongful Death Damages
In cases where a personal injury results in the death of the victim, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for their losses. Wrongful death damages can include:
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: These costs are covered to alleviate the financial burden on the surviving family members.
- Loss of Financial Support: The surviving family members can seek compensation for the loss of the deceased’s financial contributions, including income, benefits, and other forms of support.
- Loss of Companionship: Similar to loss of consortium, this damage compensates the surviving family members for the loss of the deceased’s companionship, love, and emotional support.
- Mental Anguish: The emotional distress experienced by the surviving family members due to the loss of their loved one is also a compensable damage in wrongful death cases.
Hedonic damages are a relatively less common type of non-economic damages. They are designed to compensate for the loss of the pleasure or enjoyment that an individual derives from life’s activities and experiences. These damages aim to quantify the loss of an individual’s capacity to enjoy life fully as a result of the injury.
The Role of a St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer
A St. Louis personal injury lawyer plays a crucial role in helping you secure the compensation you deserve. Here’s how they can assist you:
- Accurate Assessment: A personal injury lawyer will assess the full extent of your damages, including both economic and non-economic losses. They ensure that all potential forms of compensation are considered.
- Negotiations: Personal injury lawyers engage in negotiations with the opposing party’s insurance company to seek a fair settlement that covers all of your damages.
- Evidence Presentation: Lawyers gather and present evidence, such as medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony, to substantiate your claims and demonstrate the extent of your losses.
- Litigation Support: In cases where a fair settlement cannot be reached, personal injury lawyers represent you in court. They present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve.
It’s important to note that Missouri follows a comparative negligence system, which means that if you share some responsibility for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. For example, if the court determines that you were 20% at fault, your total compensation would be reduced by 20%.
Personal injury lawsuits are designed to help victims recover from the physical, emotional, and financial toll of their injuries. The types of damages available in these cases aim to compensate for various aspects of loss, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Consulting with a St. Louis personal injury lawyer is essential to ensure that you receive the full compensation you deserve. They can assess the unique circumstances of your case, gather evidence, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in court if necessary. By seeking the appropriate damages, you can begin your journey toward recovery and regain a sense of normalcy in your life.