If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you know what a life-changing event that can be. If you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, you might wonder how much your case is worth. The best way to know how much your case is worth is to know how much your “damages” are.
What are Damages?
“Damages” is a legal term for the money awarded to a party in a lawsuit based on a monetized calculation of the injuries they sustained. Some injuries are easy to translate into money. For example, medical bills and lost wages already come with dollar amounts. Other injuries, like pain and suffering, can be a bit harder to monetize.
The damages that are easily calculable are often called “special damages.” These damages are easy to assign a dollar amount to because they are derived from things like:
- Automobile repair bills
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Therapy bills
- Lost wages (calculated from your salary)
Special damages are pulled straight from the actual dollar amounts assigned to your bills and statements. If you want to know how much the special damages are worth in your case, you need to only look at the actual numbers. Things are a little less clear when future costs must be calculated, but those numbers can be assessed through expert witnesses (professionals in their field) and past evidence (previous bills, for example).
General damages intend to compensate a party for loss or injury that is not easily calculable. Common general damages include:
• Physical pain and suffering
• Mental pain and suffering
• Physical disfigurement or impairment
• Loss of companionship
• Lower quality of life
The dollar amount awarded for general damages varies greatly from case to case.
Rare, and used in instances of extreme neglect, punitive damages award extra money on top of the special and general damages and are intended to punish the party responsible for the injury or loss. If an injured party shows that the responsible party was so grossly negligent in causing the accident, the court may award punitive damages.
Will I Have to Pay Taxes?
The general rule is that settlements or awards in such cases are intended to compensate the plaintiff for a loss that has already been sustained. As a result, that money is not treated as new income, and is therefore not considered taxable income by the IRS. However, as with everything, there are exceptions to the general rule. It would be best to consult a personal injury attorney.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
How much your case is worth will depend on the specific facts of your case. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, let an experienced lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer do the calculating for you. He or she can help you understand what sort of damages you may be entitled to and will fight to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.