Personal Injury 101: What Do Personal Injury Settlements Cover?
November 9, 2015
In general, however, personal injury settlements include compensatory damages. In some cases, punitive damages may be available as well. We’ll take a close look at which each of these types of awards typically includes below.
Compensatory Damages for Personal Injury Cases
Compensatory damages refer to the awards that are granted to the victims of negligence in order to try to restore them to the state they were in prior to an accident or some traumatic event. Consequently, compensatory damages for personal injury cases can include damages for some combination of the following, depending on the details of a given case:
- Medical expenses – This can include the costs of emergency care needed immediately following an accident, as well as expenses for any ongoing medical treatments needed as part of the healing process. Depending on the case, this could include the costs of surgeries, hospital stays, ongoing physical therapy, mobility aides, etc.
- Lost income – This aspect of a settlement can include both past lost wages, as well as future lost income, if or when an injury prevents a victim from being able to earn a living.
- Property damage – If the accident in question caused property damage, as well as injuries, than the costs of repairing this damage can also be included in personal injury settlements. For instance, property damage awards can come into play in car accident cases.
- Emotional suffering – Given that personal injuries often result in emotional damage, as well as physical injuries, it can also be possible for settlement awards to include compensation for the mental suffering the victim has endured as a result of the accident.
- Attorneys’ fees – Depending on the case, lawyers’ fees may also be part of awards granted in successful personal injury cases.
Punitive Damages for Personal Injury Cases
In contrast to compensatory damages, punitive damages refer to awards that are granted specifically to punish some negligent party for the harm they caused. Not available in every case, punitive damages tend to come into play when the negligence in question may be especially egregious or when the defendant may have a history of similar negligent, harmful behavior.
When it comes to punitive damages, here’s what is important to understand:
- The courts typically have discretion to award punitive damages as they see fit.
- Although punitive damages can greatly increase the amounts of personal injury settlements, some courts and juries can be averse to awarding them.
- The possibility of punitive damages in a case can serve as powerful leverage in pre-trial settlement negotiations, as defendants can be far more willing to work out a settlement prior to trial in order to try to avoid being ordered to pay punitive damages later.
Contact a Portland Personal Injury Lawyer at the Savage Law Firm
If you have been harmed by negligence, you can rely on a Portland personal injury lawyer at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help and aggressive legal advocacy.
To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.