A personal injury claim arises when you are injured by someone else’s negligence – that is, a failure to use ordinary and reasonable care that causes harm. Perhaps you have been injured in a car accident or suffered medical malpractice. One element that you must prove in any personal injury case is damages caused by defendant’s negligence. Not only is proof of damages important to establish your case. Sufficiently proving damages maximizes your recovery. But what kinds of damages can you recover?
There are three basic types of damages: (1) damages for economic losses; (2) damages for non-economic losses; and (3) punitive damages.
Damages for economic loss
These damages might include:
- The cost of reasonable and necessary medical care;
- Property damages;
- Car rental, if your car is damaged in an accident;
- Loss of earnings, if you are unable to work because of your injuries;
- Cost of household services, if, for example, your injuries mean you need to hire a lawn service or house cleaners while you recover; and
- Loss of earning capacity/future earnings, if your earning ability is permanently hindered due to your injuries.
Economic damages compensate for direct financial loss and are most susceptible to direct proof.
Damages for non-economic loss
These damages might include:
- Pain and suffering, both physically and mentally/emotionally;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Disfigurement or physical impairment.
In certain circumstances, the injured plaintiff’s family members may also be entitled to recover for loss of consortium or companionship. Non-economic damages are more subjective and more difficult to assign a monetary value.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious misbehavior and are seldom awarded in personal injury cases. The Florida Supreme Court has noted that punitive damages are reserved for “the intentional infliction of harm, or a recklessness which is the result of an intentional act [.]” (Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So.2d. 922 (Fla. 1976.))
In both personal injury and wrongful death cases involving medical malpractice, Florida law establishes caps on the non-economic damages that a plaintiff may recover. These damages are capped at $500,000 where the defendant is a practitioner, and $750,000 where the defendant is a non-practitioner (e.g., a hospital.) However, Florida courts have held both these caps unconstitutional. (See Estate of McCall v. U.S., 134 So.3d. 894 (Fla. 2014); North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, (Fla. 4th Dist. Ct. App. 2015).)
Consult a West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, you may feel you do not know where to turn for help. At Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC, we have years of experience representing clients in all manner of personal injury cases. We have been serving the legal needs of Florida’s residents since 1927, and we will be by your side throughout the entire case process from start to finish. We have offices in West Palm Beach, Stuart and Boca Raton. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.