Personal injury law is meant to compensate an innocent person for losses due to the negligent, reckless or deliberate behavior of another person. These losses are called damages and are divided into two categories: specific and general.
Specific damages are purely economic, such as the cost of emergency room treatment, hospital and medical bills, and lost income or benefits from missed days of work. Specific damages include monetary losses that have already occurred due to the injury and monetary losses that are likely to occur in the future. For example, if an injury is likely to require future treatment, the plaintiff can claim future medical costs. If an injury is permanent and will prevent a plaintiff from working, the plaintiff can claim future lost income as well as the cost of job retraining as specific damages. In some caes, an attorney might retain economic experts to estimate future costs and testify to these losses in court.
General damages are real losses, but they are not readily quantifiable. Most often called “pain and suffering,” these damages refer to the physical and emotional toll of the injury. These are difficult to measure and ascertain, and even harder to convert into dollars and cents. Yet, a jury is tasked with deciding how much money is fair for:
- Physical pain and discomfort since the moment of the injury event and into the future
- The emotional stress of temporary or permanent physical limitations that force the injured party to abandon a career, an active lifestyle or a treasured activity
- The potential shortening of the injured party’s life
- Limitations on how the injured party can interact with friends and family, including perhaps the inability to hold a child or make love to a spouse
- The emotional impact of scarring and disfigurement
- The emotional impact of physical limitations, including loss of autonomy and privacy when an injured person becomes dependent on others for personal care
Every injured plaintiff wonders how much the case is worth in terms of damages. An experienced attorney can make an educated guess about the range of possible awards, but nothing is ever certain until all the evidence is in and the jury does its deliberations. For that reason, personal injury cases have been known to settle up to the moment of the jury’s verdict.
If you have been injured due to negligence, an attorney at Swartz & Lynch LLP knows how to maximize your damage award. To schedule a free case evaluation, call 857-250-0664 or contact our Boston office online.