As we previously mentioned, Texas personal injury laws are designed to put the victim back into the position they were before the accident. The law states that you have the right to be made whole. We understand that the size of your award will do nothing to take back or change the trauma of your experience or the lasting consequences of the accident.
However, it is an excellent opportunity to hold the liable party accountable to the fullest extent of the law. You deserve compensation, and the law should strive to help you rebuild your life to how it was before the accident. With that in mind, it is vital that your personal injury attorney carefully evaluate all of the harms and losses you have endured in the past and what you will have to deal with in the future due to the accident. It may surprise you to learn that you should be reimbursed for not only your medical expenses and property damages but every other way you have been influenced by this traumatic event.
The Value of Your Economic Damages
Also commonly referred to as special damages, economic damages refer to all your out-of-pocket and monetary losses. You should be reimbursed for every financial expense related to the accident you were involved in.
For instance, in the accident’s immediate aftermath, you may have quickly started accruing medical expenses. If you took an ambulance to the hospital, you would have received medical bills. When you receive medical treatment, the hospital or healthcare facility may attempt to bill your health insurance provider or send you a direct medical invoice related to your hospital stay, diagnostic imaging, and medical treatments. All of this can quickly become overwhelming.
If you require future medical care, ongoing mental health counseling, or physical and occupational therapies, these costs should be included as we calculate the value of your claim.
You should be repaid for all lost wages related to the accident. Every hour you lose from being out of work should be calculated into the value of your economic damages. But it is not just a loss of income you can recoup in your personal injury lawsuit. Suppose you are an employee of a company that provides benefits, and you lose these benefits because you are out of work. In that case, these can be calculated into the value of your personal injury lawsuit. If you can no longer continue working in this position due to the extent of your injuries or if you are dealing with a permanent disability, your attorney can also seek compensation for a loss of future potential earnings.
This can expand even further. If you needed to hire babysitters or childcare providers unexpectedly because of the accident, that could be considered as well. Do you need help keeping your house clean and maintained while recovering from the injuries? You may be able to seek reimbursement for a loss of household services.
Quantifying Non-Economic Damages
However, not all damages are financial. Non-economic damages, also called general damages, do not have a monetary worth. Your attorney needs to quantify them and will often utilize the per diem or multiplier methods to determine how much your non-economic damages are worth.
For example, if you suffered severe scarring or disfigurement due to significant burn injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for the skin scars and the embarrassment you feel.
If you are having trouble coping emotionally with the trauma you went through, are having difficulty maintaining close relationships with family and friends, can no longer participate in an intimate spousal relationship, or deal with excruciating physical pain on a day-to-day basis, these are all losses you can receive compensation for.
However, these types of damages are entirely subjective. They can influence each person’s life in unique ways. For this reason, you must go into great detail with your attorney about how your non-economic damages affect you. This is the only way to ensure you receive fair compensation for your suffering.
When Punitive Damages Can Be Awarded
It is not unusual for injury victims to have questions surrounding punitive damages. In Texas, these are also commonly known as exemplary damages. However, unlike in popular books and movies, punitive damages are not awarded in every case. Punitive damages are rarely granted. Although they are possible, the Texas civil court system will generally only award punitive damages if they deem the defendant’s actions to be intentionally malicious or harmful, grossly negligent, egregious, or reprehensible.
The jury must find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the at-fault person or company showed a callous disregard for the safety and welfare of others. This has a subjective and objective component and requires egregious conduct. Awarding these damages is to punish the lousy actor and deter similar behavior by others in the future.