Maybe you’ve heard the term “damages” before on some fast-talking lawyer’s commercial. Maybe you know the word, but never realized it has a specific legal definition. When lawyers say “damages,” they are referring to an important aspect of any personal injury case. While you may not want to know every in and out of Utah personal injury law, understanding what your damages may include can prove helpful to understanding your own personal injury case.
What Are Damages?
There are certain responsibilities individuals and corporations have under Utah state law. Everyone has a duty not to injure others on purpose or through negligence. When a party breaches their duty not to injure others – and someone gets hurt – the law can be used to make the injured party whole again by awarding them money to compensate them for their losses, also known as damages. Because there are a few different types of damages, how compensation is determined and how much a plaintiff may be awarded varies from case to case.
“Economic damages” refers to specific costs associated with being injured. These things are either measurable or predictable, and may need to be shown with some degree of specificity to be awarded.
Medical Expenses – The most common type of economic damages are medical expenses. In a personal injury suit, the allegations of negligence or wrongdoing usually center around a person’s resultant physical injury. Any serious injury should be met with appropriate medical treatment, and so the plaintiff will be compensated for these expenses.
Property Damage – While this may not apply in every situation, damages in some cases may include compensation for property loss. A common example is a plaintiff getting compensated for a totaled automobile.
Lost Income – If you’re seriously injured, your ability to work may be impacted. You may lose time from your employment and miss potential opportunities to make money. The law in Utah allows you to receive compensation for any lost income caused by your injury.
Lost Earning Ability – After sustaining an injury, your ability to make money in the way you did prior to the incident may never be the same. Because you may be unable to continue at your former employment permanently, damages are available related to lost earning ability.
Household Assistance – Being injured also hampers a person’s ability to complete household tasks. When you are seriously injured, even the simple can become challenging. That’s why damage awards in Utah personal injury lawsuits may include the cost of household help.
While they are less easy to calculate, non-economic damages are significant in a personal injury lawsuit. Many of the large jury awards you see in headlines are attributable to non-economic damages.
Pain and Suffering – The most common non-economic damage comes in the valuation of pain and suffering. Since there isn’t much else anyone can do, the great deal of pain that may be associated with an injury is compensated for financially.
Emotional Distress – Like pain and suffering, the mental and emotional challenges accompanying an injury can be compensated for in a Utah personal injury lawsuit.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life – If an individual is no longer able to engage in the activities they did for pleasure prior to their injury, they are entitled to loss of enjoyment of life damages. This may include hobbies like working out or playing a sport, as well as day-to-day pastimes such as gardening.
Loss of Consortium – While it doesn’t often come up, damages can be awarded in Utah based on a claim that a love relationship has suffered due to injury.
Punitive damages differ from the damages already discussed in that they are not used to compensate a victim, but to punish the other party. The money awarded in a punitive damage claim does go to the victim, but the motivation behind it is to deter whichever action or incident caused the injury. The goal of punitive damages is to prevent the defendant or others in a similar position from engaging in that conduct in the future.
We know that personal injury law can be complex. We’re here to help. Contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today to discuss any issue you’re having, and let our experienced attorneys do their best to get you the compensation you deserve.