Every legal claim is different, both factually and with regard to the laws that apply. As your personal injury lawyer will tell you, one of the most important components in determining the value of a personal injury claim is the nature and seriousness of the actual injuries. The purpose of a damages award in a personal injury case is to make the victim “whole.” This basically means compensating the victim for everything was lost as a result of the accident or injury. The only way to do accomplish that is through a monetary award.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
In most personal injury cases, the injured party will seek compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of their injuries. This is the primary component of damages in a personal injury case. Reimbursement for medical treatment typically includes compensation for treatment already received, as well as the estimated costs of any medical care that may be required in the future. Additionally, the injuries suffered can have a substantial impact on the victim’s ability to return to work, either temporarily or permanently. In that case, damages may include future income.
Emotional Distress and Pain and Suffering
Another important element of damages in nearly every personal injury case is compensation for pain and suffering. When the victim suffers pain and severe discomfort at the time of the injury, as well as ongoing pain, that is a separate type of damages for which compensation may be available. Also, more severe injuries often lead to emotional distress damages for the psychological impact of the injuries. These types of injuries often manifest themselves as fear, anxiety or sleeplessness.
Loss of Enjoyment and Loss of Consortium
Some other kinds of damages which are less tangible and often more difficult to quantify, are damages for loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium. When personal injuries prevent the victim from enjoying normal daily activities, they may be entitled to compensation for what is referred to as “loss of enjoyment” damages. Also, injuries can have a negative impact on the injured person’s relationship with their spouse or significant other. In those situations, damages for “loss of consortium” may be also available.
With these various types of damages, and the inexact nature of determining their value, it is nearly impossible to tell a client how much a personal injury claim is worth. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can assist you through the litigation of these claims, as well as, receiving the compensation to which you are entitled.
Be sure to seek medical treatment after an Injury
One key element of every personal injury case is your “medical damages.” That simply means the amount of expenses you incurred seeking medical diagnoses and treatment for your injuries. This amount makes up a large part of your total damages in a personal injury case. The way your damages are calculated depends on several factors, including the type of medical treatment you receive and the type of medical providers who rendered that treatment. For this reason, obtaining medical treatment after a personal injury can have a huge impact on your personal injury claim.
How insurance adjusters view your medical treatment
When an insurance adjuster is reviewing your claims to determine whether settlement is a good idea, they typically do not view all types of medical services the same. They consider both the nature of the medical treatment and its duration. They also consider the type of health care provider involved. Here are a few examples of the differences in medical treatment and how they can affect the value of your damages.
Diagnosis and treatment of a medical condition
Obviously, a health care provider must first diagnose your condition or injury before he or she can properly treat that condition. In order to arrive at a diagnosis, most often certain tests or diagnostic tools must be used. In many cases, these tests are quick and not very costly, as compared to the treatment aspect of your care. In most cases, insurance companies simply lump all of your medical bills together, without making a distinction between diagnosis and treatment. An exception to this general rule would be when a doctor orders numerous, expensive tests to ultimately determine the injury is minor and needs little treatment. In those case, insurance adjusters may see that as simply “running up” the medical bills.
Regardless, your primary concern should always be to obtain the type of medical care with which you are most comfortable and that you think will be the most beneficial. Just be aware that if you choose services not provided by a physician, an insurance company is likely to compensate you at a lower rate.
If you have questions regarding damages, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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