The Damages Allowed in Personal Injury Claims
Damages recoverable by the victim in a personal injury claim can include consequential financial losses (such as vehicle repairs, medical expenses, lost wages, etc.), compensation for pain and suffering and even punitive damages. Most often, in car accident claims the victim will be entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses incurred (even if incurred by their own health insurer), documented lost wages and compensation for pain, suffering and inconvenience. The economic losses are usually the easiest to calculate as there will be documentation proving how much was paid or was billed for medical expenses and the cost of repairs. However, insurance carriers often argue about the amount of medical expenses incurred if the injured party was treated on a lien basis, which is where the provider (usually a chiropractor or orthopedist) agrees in writing to defer receipt of payment until after the claim is settled.
The most hotly contested issue in personal injury claims involves the calculation of what are referred to as the general damages, more commonly referred to as "pain and suffering". This is where the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney is critical. The "value" of pain and suffering is often determined by the nature and extent of the injuries sustained. For example, the general damages awarded by juries for strain and sprain type injuries are normally much lower than those awarded for broken bones or spinal disc injuries. The range within which juries award such damages and what insurance carriers are normally willing to pay is something that experienced injury lawyers understand. This is critical knowledge when negotiating a settlement in a personal injury claim, especially since the vast majority of claims settle prior to trial.
What About Pre-Existing Conditions in Injury Claims
Personal injury claimants often have pre-existing conditions at the time of an accident. Insurance companies know this, and it is something they attempt to exploit in most cases involving older victims. For example, most people over the age of 40 have suffered some injuries in the past or conditions like arthritis that have caused the need for medical care and treatment. What is important to remember is that the at-fault party in an accident is not only liable for any new injuries they cause the victim but also for the aggravation of any pre-existing condition. This is true even if the victim was more susceptible to an injury than the average person.
Under the law, a personal injury claimant is not entitled to damages for any physical or emotional condition that they had before an accident occurred. However, if the victim had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by the misconduct of another, the injured party is entitled to all damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate the claimant for the effect on that condition. This is another issue that an experienced personal injury lawyer well understands.
An Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Attorney
With nearly 30 years of experience handling personal injury claims from his office in Orange County, Mr. Ralph has recovered millions of dollars for his injured clients. Whether the case involves a slip and fall, criminal assault or product liability claim, Mr. Ralph has the expertise to navigate your case from its initial stages, through litigation and to trial. His unique familiarity with the Orange County judicial system and his personal attention to his clients is what sets his office apart. If you want a free consultation regarding your potential claim, simply call or contact Mr. Ralph directly via e-mail.