If you are involved in an accident that is another person’s fault, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries under a personal injury lawsuit. In every personal injury lawsuit, the question that everyone wants to know is how the claim is worth. Ultimately the answer depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Factors that need to be considered include:
- How did the accident occur and who was involved in the accident?
- Are there temporary or permanent injuries? How severe are the injuries?
- What are the medical expenses? Will there be future medical expenses?
- How has the accident affected the injured person’s relationship with other people?
- Can the injured person return to work? Are there any work restrictions?
- Has the injured person had to take time off work?
Determining the Value of a Personal Injury Claim
Generally, in personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff is able to recover compensation for injuries and damages suffered as a direct result of another person’s negligence. Examples of compensable injuries include physical and emotional pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, loss of consortium, loss of wages, and loss of earning capacity. Two categories are easier to quantity than others: medical expenses and loss of wages. For medical expenses, it is easy to obtain an accounting of any past medical expenses and project future medical costs with a reasonable degree of certainty. In addition, loss of wages can be calculated based on the number of days the injured person was away from work. Further, it can reasonably be estimated if the person will have to take any future days of work to recover from injuries.
Physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of consortium are more difficult to quantity. As such, it is often difficult predict how much a jury will award, if anything, for these types of damages. For physical and emotional pain and suffering, it must be determined how much the injury has impacted the plaintiff’s life. Does the plaintiff have difficulty sleeping? Do the injuries cause daily pain? If the plaintiff suffers from these then the plaintiff may be able to recover damages. What is more, for loss of consortium, a plaintiff may be able to recover compensation if injuries have affected a plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse. The plaintiff’s spouse is entitled to the damages in order to compensate the spouse for the loss benefit and support from the other spouse.
Given the different categories of damages that can be recovered, it is easy to understand that the value of a personal injury lawsuit depend greatly on specifics. One person may suffer relatively minor medical expenses in a small car accident, while another person in a multiple car crash may require multiple surgeries and may need to be away from work for an extended period of time.
Comparative Fault Reduces Damages
Even if a plaintiff is entitled to damages, the damages that a victim might be able to recover may still be reduced under comparative negligence rules. In Tennessee, if the plaintiff is 50 percent or more at fault for the injuries then the plaintiff is not entitled to recover any damages. If, however, the plaintiff is 49 percent or less at fault for the accident then the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced in proportion to the fault. For example, if the jury awards the plaintiff $100,000 in damages, but finds the plaintiff 20 percent at fault, then the plaintiff will receive only $80,000 in damages.