Personal injury awards are monetary amounts which are granted to victims in personal injury lawsuits in order to provide them with compensatory relief for injuries which were caused by the defendant. In general, the majority of personal injury lawsuits result in monetary damages awards.

A monetary damages award is an amount which is paid to a victim by a liable party or parties. In a personal injury case, monetary damages are paid out to the plaintiff, or the injured individual, by the individual or entity which is found liable, or legally responsible, for causing the accident and injuries, known as the defendant.

A plaintiff and defendant are allowed to agree on a damage award amount after a negotiated settlement between the parties, their insurance companies, and their attorneys. In certain cases, a court may issue an injunction, which is a court order that prohibits conduct or requires a defendant to take certain actions.

A large majority of personal injury lawsuits result in a damages award that is used to cover the plaintiff’s losses, which may include things such as:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages; and
  • Other costs associated with the plaintiff’s injuries.

These types of damages awards are common in personal injury cases, including:

  • Automobile accidents;
  • Slip and fall claims;
  • Negligence lawsuits; and
  • Class action lawsuits.

What Do Personal Injury Awards Usually Cover?

There are often numerous different components of a personal injury award. The amount of damages and the scope of coverage will, of course, depend on the injuries and losses which a plaintiff sustained.

Personal injury awards may include:

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for their losses. These losses must be calculable and were directly caused by the conduct of the defendant.

Restitutionary damages are damages which are calculated based upon the gain which the defendant obtained as a result of their violation. Restitution is used when a defendant benefited at the expense of the plaintiff and is then required to make the plaintiff whole by repayment.

Punitive damages are damages which are intended to punish a defendant. This type of damages is typically only granted in cases of intentional or willful conduct as well as in conjunction with an award of compensatory damages. There are many states that place limits on punitive damages award amounts, which is typically 3 to 10 times the amount of the compensatory damages.

In certain cases, damages may be awarded to compensate for pain and suffering. This compensation may be awarded in cases where a plaintiff can show that they suffered additional hardships as a result of their injuries, such as permanent disfiguration.

In the majority of personal injury cases, most of the plaintiff’s losses will be covered by the compensatory damages award. As previously noted, this award usually covers losses including:

  • Medical bills;
  • Hospital and medicine costs;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future earnings; and
  • Other direct losses.

Punitive damages, however, may also be quite substantial, if they are awarded.

What Are Compensatory Damages in a Personal Claim?

The majority of personal injury damages which are awarded are classified as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff who is injured for the losses they suffered due to that accident or injury.

Compensatory damages are also intended to make an injured plaintiff whole again. This means to place them in the same position as they were in prior to their injury. Although the specific rules governing compensatory damages vary by jurisdiction, the following losses associated with personal injury may be recovered through an award of compensatory damages:

  • Medical expenses and the cost of medical treatment;
  • Lost wages or future loss of earnings;
  • Costs associated with the replacement or repair of the property;
  • The cost of living with a disability.

Compensatory damages will usually cover the costs of:

  • Hospital bills;
  • Medical treatments;
  • Prescription medicines; and
  • Other health care aspects.

If a personal injury results in a loss of wages, these losses can be recovered through compensatory damages. In some cases, a plaintiff may also be compensated if their injury causes them to suffer a loss of future earnings.

A plaintiff can, in many cases, be compensated for damage to property which was directly caused by the actions of a defendant. This amount is usually calculated according to the fair market value of the property at the time the damage or injury occurred.

If a plaintiff’s injuries lead to the individual having a disability, the plaintiff may be able to receive compensation for the costs associated with that disability, which may include wheelchairs or assisting living arrangements. A plaintiff may also be compensated for the loss of future earnings if their injury reduces the amount of wages they will be able to earn in the future.

Are There Any Limits on Personal Injury Awards?

In many cases, the amount of compensatory damages should be proportional to the damage which was sustained by the plaintiff. This ensures that the plaintiff does not claim any additional losses which are unrelated to the injury or losses which the defendant did not actually cause.

Calculating compensatory damages may be complex and usually requires the assistance of an attorney. There are certain states which place limits on non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.

In addition, as previously noted, many states place limits on punitive damages when they are awarded. Certain states also place similar caps on personal injury awards which involve medical malpractice cases. These caps on award amounts are designed to prevent plaintiffs from abusing the legal system.

How Can I Obtain a Favorable Personal Injury Award?

One important aspect of any personal injury claim is for a plaintiff to ensure that their damages can be calculated to a reasonable degree of certainty. This means that the plaintiff should be able to show clearly and accurately exactly what losses they incurred and should be compensated for.

In order to determine this amount, it may be necessary to provide written proof of the plaintiff’s losses by providing documents such as:

  • Medical receipts;
  • Hospital bills;
  • Pay stubs from a job; and
  • Other relevant documents.

In addition, a plaintiff should be aware that their ability to collect an award in a personal injury case may depend on their own degree of liability. In some jurisdictions, a plaintiff may be limited in the amount of damages which may be collected if the plaintiff was also at fault for their own injuries. For example, if the plaintiff’s own traffic violation contributed to a vehicle accident.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Obtaining a Personal Injury Award?

It is crucial to have the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to obtain the best personal injury award possible in your case. A personal injury award can help you obtain compensation for your losses which were caused by your injury.

Your lawyer can review your case, advise you regarding the laws of your state, and advise you regarding the possibilities for compensation in your case. In addition, your lawyer will represent you any time you are required to appear in court.

Having a lawyer is especially important if your claim is filed against a company or entity which has attorneys on staff to defend against lawsuits, such as a hospital. These cases will often require large amounts of evidence and complex calculations for compensation. So, it is important to have a lawyer with the knowledge to properly present the evidence to the court.