Posted in Our Blog on May 28, 2019
In a personal injury lawsuit, damages refer to both the losses a victim suffered and the financial recovery that may be available. The damages available in a lawsuit will depend on the extent of the injuries and type of losses the victim suffered. Understanding the amount of damages you or your family could receive for someone else’s negligence in Louisiana will take an evaluation from an injury attorney. The types of damages that are available, however, stay constant under state civil law.
Most personal injury lawsuits involve demands for past and future medical expenses related to the accident. Medical damages can include payments for surgeries, medications, therapies, rehabilitation, specialized care, gas and transportation costs, medical devices, disability costs, the price of a live-in nurse, and home or vehicle modifications.
A victim can seek restitution for any and all medical costs relating to the injury, in the past and in the future. Once the victim reaches the point of maximum medical improvement, he or she can predict future medical expenses with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Claiming medical damages will take evidence such as hospital bills, health insurance statements, and medical records.
Another economic damage available in a Louisiana personal injury lawsuit is lost wages. Lost wages refer to the income the victim lost due to the accident, such as days off for medical care or doctor’s appointments. If the victim had to take a leave of absence because of a temporary disability, he or she could claim this lost income. The victim can also claim future lost capacity to earn because of a disability. The claimant can calculate lost future earnings by comparing what he or she used to earn with current wages with the disability.
If the victim suffered property damage, such as a totaled vehicle or damaged items, he or she can file a claim for the full amount of repairs. The victim will need to provide proof of the expenses, such as a mechanic’s estimate for the cost of vehicle repairs. If a car accident led to a totaled vehicle, the damage award could include the full pre-crash value of the vehicle.
Pain and suffering is a noneconomic damage category that refers to an individual’s physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, turmoil, psychological trauma, and other intangible losses because of an accident. It can also cover the costs of emotional distress due to permanent scarring, disfigurement, paralysis, or a disability, as well as the losses of quality or enjoyment of life because of the injuries. Loss of consortium, or the loss of a loved one’s companionship and care, is also a covered damage in Louisiana.
For the most part, the Louisiana courts do not limit how much a victim can receive in pain and suffering damages. A $500,000 cap does exist, however, on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice claims and cases against a government agency. Pain and suffering damages can be difficult to prove. Hiring an attorney can help you establish the myriad ways in which an injury impacted your life. A lawyer can demonstrate your losses to a judge or jury in a way that can maximize your noneconomic recovery amount.
Unlike the compensatory damages listed above, punitive damages aim to punish the defendant, not help the plaintiff. Punitive damages may come in addition to other damage awards as a way for the courts to punish the defendant for gross negligence, wrongful acts, or intent to harm. Punitive damages also serve to establish a precedent in the community, showing the courts will not tolerate certain behaviors. Only certain lawsuits come with punitive damages – mainly if the defendant was particularly negligent or wrongful in his or her actions. Louisiana does not place a cap on punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits.