What Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
The worth of your personal injury case varies depending on the damages you sustained and their severity. Each person’s personal injury claim is different, so it is hard for even the most experienced personal injury lawyer Tampa, FL has to offer without speaking with you personally. To Speak with Jeff Murphy of Jeff Murphy Law, call us at (813) 553-5517 if you’re a new client or at (813) – 443 – 5553 if you’re an existing client.
What Are Damages?
Damages are broken into three categories. They are compensatory, punitive, and nominal. Each damage type serves a different purpose. For example, compensatory damages are meant to make you whole again, as in restore you to the state you were in before the personal injury took place. Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for their wanton, reckless, grossly negligent, or malicious behavior so that they’ll never want to take such actions again. Nominal damages are meant to give you something for your inconvenience in cases where you didn’t sustain any real damages. An award for nominal damage may be as little as $1.
To be more specific, compensatory damages are divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are your calculable expenses, such as the cost of your hospital fees, your lost wages from missing work due to the injuries, and your lost capacity for future earnings. A court calculates the latter by looking at your skill set now, your present earnings, and the income cap for people who work in the same field as you in your county, state, or region. Say you were on track to make $25,000 had you stayed on course, but your injuries have severely limited your work ability so that you must work in a lower-paying field that has a much lower income cap. The defendant may have to pay the difference.
Non-economic damages include your pain and suffering, loss of consortium between you and your spouse, loss of enjoyment, and other emotional and mental ailments due to the injuries you sustained. For example, suppose your personal injury case left you disfigured. Your spouse may become less attracted to you and stops spending as much time with you as before. Perhaps you two used to enjoy a weekly movie night and frequent romantic vacations. But now, your spouse is embarrassed by your disfigurement and no longer wants to be intimate with you or go out with you in public. You can sue for damages.
There’s not an exact cap for compensatory damages. Punitive damages, however, do have a cap in Florida. A judge may permit an award of up to three times the amount of your compensatory damages or $500,000. The judge will choose the higher amount. You should also be aware that a court will only award you punitive damages if you’re at first awarded compensatory or nominal damages.
Again, nominal damages are a minuscule amount you’ll receive when the defendant violated your rights but didn’t cause you any real harm. Seeking nominal damages may be wise where you want to absolve yourself of responsibility for the personal injury for insurance purposes or to get the ball rolling to seek punitive damages.