In personal injury claims, three types of damages can be awarded: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Economic damages, also known as special damages, are tangible costs that result from direct financial loss. Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are intangible losses that are non-monetary.
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are meant to punish the defendant for their actions, instead of compensating the plaintiff for the defendant’s negligence. There is much more that applies to each of these damages, and a Minot personal injury attorney can help you with any questions along the way.
Economic damages in a Minot personal injury case
Economic damages are under the umbrella of compensatory damages, or damages that require compensation for the injured victim to feel “whole” again. Economic damages can consist of many different types of expenses that were involved in the accident, including household services and out-of-pocket expenses. However, below are some of the most common types of economic damages:
- Medical Bills: It’s important to always gather all your medical records and bills after an accident so that your attorney can build a strong case for you. The court considers all kinds of different tests and treatments, such as lab work, rehabilitation, physical therapy, surgery, hospital stays, and more. These medical expenses can quickly build up and get very costly. In 2018 in North Dakota, 100 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. This led to a collective $1 million in medical costs.
- Loss of Wages: After an accident, it’s expected that the injured victim will take some days off work to recover. However, if the accident was too severe and that person will not be able to return for weeks or months, there will be a loss of wages that can impact the person’s financial status. This type of compensation will make up for missed time and lost salary.
- Funeral Costs: As many accidents can result in fatalities, one must consider the costs of a funeral service. In 2021, the average cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial was $7,848. These are very expensive services that many people are not often prepared for when an accident and death occur.
- Property Damage: In many different types of accidents, there is bound to be some type of property damage. In 2020, the average cost of property damage per vehicle in the nation was $4,700. Especially when the accident was not your fault, this is a big price to pay for someone else’s negligence. This is an amount that many residents across the country cannot cover. When this type of economic damage is sustained in an accident, that injured victim deserves compensation.
Other economic damages allowed under the law include custodial care, costs of substitute domestic services, and other monetary losses.
Non-economic damages in a Minot personal injury case
Non-economic damages are those that you cannot physically touch. After an accident occurs, it can be argued that non-economic damages are some of the greatest types of losses. While economic losses can sometimes be overcome in time, the brain, body, and mind can be much more challenging to heal.
- Physical Pain and Suffering: While this can be slightly more difficult to calculate because it’s based on perceived value, there is no doubt that this can qualify you for a much higher compensation amount than expected. Additional compensation can be earned especially when the injured victim sustained a chronic condition that they will have to endure for the rest of their lives, such as chronic migraines or back pain.
- Toll on Emotional and Mental Health: An injury can gravely affect a person’s mental health and state of mind, far beyond any financial losses. An accident can be very traumatic. Many people come out of accidents with PTSD and depression, requiring countless sessions of therapy and rehabilitation. They could have a complete personality change, or they could now be suffering from short-term memory loss if they endured a brain injury, for example.
Under the law, you can also make a claim for non-economic damages such as loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, inconvenience, disfigurement, and fear of injury, as well as any injury to your reputation or humiliation you sustain as a result of the incident.
How can I maximize my damages in a personal injury lawsuit?
One of the smartest moves you can make is to hire a Minot personal injury lawyer to represent you. Why? Because the person or entity who caused you harm is almost guaranteed to have a lawyer (or a team of them), and you don’t want to bring a knife to a gunfight.
Another benefit to working with an experienced attorney is that you won’t have to handle the insurance company on your own. These are not your good neighbors, and you’re not in good hands. Insurance companies want to keep your money, and they will almost always offer you the lowest settlement possible. They want your case to settle fast, before you even realize the true extent of your injuries. As plaintiffs’ attorneys, we don’t let that happen unless that’s what is best for our clients.
In the meantime, there are a few other things you can do to help yourself:
- Get to a doctor. Try your best to go as soon as you possibly can, so that there’s a record of your initial injuries.
- Attend all medical appointments. You want that record to reflect how your injuries are progressing.
- Keep all your receipts. Needed a car to get to a follow-up visit? Get a receipt. Had to get the car fixed? Get a receipt. Needed to buy a crutch? Get a receipt.
- Tell your employer what’s happening. You’ll want an accurate record of how much work you missed.
- Tell us the truth. Don’t try to fudge what happened, or make it seem like things went one way when they went another. Just be honest with us, so we can help you.
If you have suffered an injury due to another party’s negligence or recklessness, you may have a case on your hands. Whether you’ve suffered economic and/or non-economic damages, our team will fight for your right to fair compensation. Contact one of our experienced Minot personal injury attorneys today. At Larson Law Firm P.C., we will fight vehemently to ensure your right to compensation is protected. Call our office in Minot or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We also serve clients in Bismarck and Fargo.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson