Types of Damages Available in a Personal Injury Claim

Damages is a legal term for the financial compensation that may be available to an injured victim during a personal injury claim in Arizona. Someone who has been injured because of another person’s carelessness, recklessness or intent to harm may be entitled to financial damages to make the victim whole again. The civil justice system acknowledges three main types of damages that are available in a personal injury claim: economic, noneconomic and punitive.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the most common type of award in a personal injury claim. They represent the financial losses that a victim suffered because of an accident or injury. The goal of an economic damage award is to restore the victim to the financial state that he or she would have been in had the accident not occurred. An economic damage award in Arizona could reimburse a victim for expenses such as:

  • Hospital bills and medical costs, including future medical needs
  • The cost to repair or replace damaged property
  • Lost wages, earning opportunities and employment benefits
  • The cost of vocational rehabilitation or finding a different job
  • The value of the victim’s lost household services
  • Travel expenses and out-of-pocket costs

Medical expenses generally make up the bulk of economic damages in a personal injury claim. Economic damages are real, quantifiable and measurable losses. Calculating economic damages in a personal injury claim takes adding up all bills and receipts associated with the accident and injury, plus estimating future costs. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are unquantifiable and intangible losses. A Glendale personal injury attorney will be able to determine the economic damages you could pursue with a personal injury claim.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages in a personal injury claim pay a victim for the nonfinancial impact of an injury. Serious injuries can affect a victim’s mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing – not just physical health. In Arizona, an accident victim can pursue financial compensation for these noneconomic losses, as well.

Common examples of noneconomic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Chronic pain or discomfort
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium with a spouse or loved one
  • Loss of purpose
  • Disability or disfigurement

Often, these losses are simply referred to as pain and suffering. Calculating the value of your injury claim in pain and suffering damages can be difficult, as it does not rely on bills or hard numbers. An injury lawyer can provide you with an accurate case evaluation.

Punitive Damages

The first two categories are compensable damages, meaning they compensate and reimburse an injured victim for losses. The third type, punitive damages, serves a different purpose. Punitive damages punish a defendant for an act or omission that is particularly egregious, such as outrageous misconduct, gross negligence, a wanton disregard for the safety of others or malicious intent to harm.

The goal of a punitive damage award is to penalize the defendant for his or her wrongful acts, as well as to dissuade the defendant and others in the community from committing similar acts in the future. Punitive damages are relatively uncommon during personal injury cases in Arizona. If a judge does decide to grant this type of award, a victim will receive it in addition to compensatory damages already won.

Compensation Caps in Arizona

A compensation cap is a legal limit on the amount of financial compensation that an injured victim can receive in a personal injury settlement or jury verdict. Not all states have damage caps. In Arizona, the courts have prohibited damage caps, holding that they go against the state Constitution. In other states, compensation caps limit the maximum amount of damages a victim can recover, such as noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases and punitive damages.

For more information about the types of damages that may be available in your personal injury claim, consult with an attorney in Glendale today.