Damages Available in a Personal Injury Case and How they are Calculated
In a personal injury case, there are many different types of damages that may be available to the plaintiff. There are damages for the pain and suffering the plaintiff endured, as well as future pain and suffering. The plaintiff may be awarded money for a disability. Additional damages may be imposed for lost wages. In rare cases, the plaintiff may recover punitive damages from the defendant if the defendant’s conduct was willful or wantonly reckless.
In a separate cause of action, the plaintiff’s spouse can recover for loss of services. Children may recover for loss of parental guidance. The jury usually decides how much to award in damages and the reason for those damages. The parties may then request that the judge review the amount awarded.
There are several statutes which may affect how damages are calculated. In one case, the plaintiffs were seeking compensation for injuries their daughter sustained while riding her bicycle. The defendant alleged that the failure of the child’s parents to make sure their daughter used a helmet should be considered as a reason to reduce the amount of monetary damages. The court held the vehicle code of the jurisdiction precluded the defendant’s argument.
The statute governing automobile insurance can limit both economic and non-economic damages if both the plaintiff and defendant are insured. Damages may be reduced by an amount called “basic economic loss.” Basic economic loss includes items such as lost wages and medical expenses. The reduction to the damage award cannot exceed $50,000 for these losses. Reductions for basic economic loss are not required in cases where the plaintiff is suing on behalf of an individual who has died.
Damages may be changed on appeal when the award is so excessive or inadequate that it “shocks the conscience of the court.” There is a statute which prohibits the appeals court from increasing the amount of damages beyond the amount granted by the jury.