There are three main categories of damages that can be considered in your claim or lawsuit against an insurance carrier. These categories are economic damages, non-economic damages, and physical impairment. This article will provide you with a guide as to what items can be considered within each category of damages.
Perhaps the most self-explanatory category is economic damages. Economic damages will include all of your past medical expenses. Medical expenses are calculated based on each provider’s total medical billing. These billing totals do not need to reflect any payments that have been made towards the balance by either you or your health insurance carrier. Medical expenses are simply the total sum of all billing relevant to injuries you sustained in a motor vehicle collision or due to negligence on a premise.
Economic damages will also include wage loss. Wage loss is best supported by doctor’s notes and time logs from your employer which detail any PTO time taken and/or any dates of work or hours that were missed due to your injuries. In addition, this category of damages can also include out of pocket expenses. Out of pocket expenses are expenses you have had to incur as a result of injuries sustained on a premise or in a motor vehicle collision. The most common examples of this form of damages are prescription costs, mileage to get to your doctor’s appointments, and medical devices such as crutches or slings. All of these items are combined in order to generate a value for your economic damages. It is important to note that economic damages are the category of damages that are most easily calculable as every item will ultimately have a pre-determined amount have attached.
The next category of damages is non-economic damages. These damages are much more ambiguous as they relate to pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience. Your attorney will make his or her best estimate as to the value of this form of damages; however, this is the category of damages most frequently negotiated on. There are factors that can be considered when generating values for this type of damages such as the severity of the injury you incurred (for example a fractured arm versus a neck sprain/strain), the duration of treatment you had to endure, and the activities of daily living that were impacted as a result of your injuries. Oftentimes your attorney will request information from you which will provide details of how the collision or slip/trip and fall has impacted your life. The details you provide will then be used in negotiations for this particular category of damages.
Lastly, there is a category of damages for physical impairment. This category may not be applicable to every case, however, if you are permanently impaired due to injuries you have sustained this is a category of damages that can be assessed. Permanent impairment is usually assessed by a medical professional who can provide helpful reports on your behalf. These reports often indicate medical findings that provide substantiation for your impairment. Physical impairment can be associated with a rating scale that is often used in workers compensation cases and is conveyed as a percentage (for example 5% impairment versus 25% impairment). These impairment ratings can then be valued and added in as additional damages in your claim.
All three categories of damages can be used to assess and negotiate on your case or claim. You should always seek the advice of counsel if you are unsure if an expense can be included in your claim.