In any personal injury lawsuit, one of the key concepts that is most important to understand is ‘damages.’ In essence, damages are awards allocated to victims as compensation for losses sustained from their injuries.
These can be obtained through insurance claims via settlement offers or as awards through court verdicts if the case goes to trial. Quality of life is one type of damages that personal injury victims may recover.
Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case
There are three primary categories of damages that can be considered in a personal injury case:
Economic damages are tangible financial losses resulting from the accident, most often including medical expenses like rehabilitation, hospital stays, medication, and necessary surgeries. Economic damages also cover property damage and income loss from the inability to work during the recovery period.
These refer to the intangible losses like pain and suffering inflicted by the accident or traumatic event. Another primary type of non-economic damages includes decreased quality of life. These damages are more difficult to quantify, but can still have a significant outcome on your personal injury claim.
This category is awarded less frequently than other damage types, and is awarded as a way to punish the defendant and deter similar future behavior.
Punitive damages are only awarded when the plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed them, or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.
More About Quality of Life Damages
Quality of life damages, a sub-category within non-economic damages, often emerges as a crucial element in a personal injury claim. These damages aim to compensate for an injured party’s decreased quality of life.
These particular damages cover negative changes in your lifestyle due to the aftermath of the injury, such as:
- Physical discomfort that has become part of day-to-day activities
- Inability to participate in certain physical activities previously enjoyed, like sports or taking your kids to the park
- Damage to personal or professional reputation caused by the injury
- Cases where your ability to have children has been impaired
As someone who does not earn an income outside the home – like children, elderly people, and stay-at-home parents – these quality of life damages can become essential.
Calculating the Value of Quality of Life Damages
Calculating the value of quality of life damages can be challenging to navigate. To facilitate this in-depth assessment, the plaintiff’s life before and after the incident is compared to yield an accurate estimation of how severely their quality of life has been affected.
However, determining an appropriate dollar amount for quality of life damages is quite subjective because it heavily depends on the unique factors of each individual case. Here are some elements considered during this process:
- The claimant’s age
- Their contributions towards recovering or reducing losses (mitigation efforts)
- Education and work history
- Personality traits
- The accident’s effects on the plaintiff’s ability to work
- Comparative negligence – whether the plaintiff played a part in causing the accident or their injuries
- The severity of the injuries
- Future consequences of the injury
Additional key factors might also play a crucial role in determining the value of these types of damages, including:
- The socio-economic status or wealth of both the plaintiff and the defendant. This can influence the compensation awarded.
- Witness testimony can significantly impact the assessment of the severity and negative effects resulting from injury.
- Whether there’s an existing insurance policy that will cover damages.
Ultimately, a personal injury lawyer with experience handling personal injury claims should be able to help you gather evidence to prove decreased quality of life and provide an estimate on how much you might be entitled to.
Documenting Quality of Life Damages
Successfully arguing for compensation for quality of life damages in a personal injury case is largely dependent on documentation and evidence. Some of the most important pieces of evidence in arguing for these types of damages include the following:
Medical records form an indispensable part of your claim, detailing all injuries sustained, treatment undergone, and medical costs incurred because of your accident. This offers concrete proof that you have suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions.
Expert testimony from qualified professionals, including healthcare providers, mental health professionals, or even economists, can help make your case for quality of life damages. They can provide the necessary context to your injuries and address how it has negatively impacted your lifestyle.
A vivid, well-articulated personal account of how your daily life has been altered due to the accident can help as well.
Images depicting the extent of physical injuries or changes in living conditions can be very impactful and show why quality of life damages are warranted.
Keeping a journal to document your experiences post-incident serves as an ongoing record of pain, discomfort, limitations, and general life alterations you have faced due to the injury.
The narratives offered by friends, family members, or colleagues who can share about your life before and after the incident could strengthen your claim significantly.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer To Maximize Your Compensation
It is important that all this documentation is organized in a way that can be presented effectively, which is where a personal injury lawyer comes in. Contact today to our lawyers at Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at (314) 444-4444 to schedule a free consultation and learn how our St. Louis personal injury lawyers can help you with your claim.