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Economic Damages



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Economic Damages

If you are hurt in an accident, whether it is a car accident, construction accident, or a slip and fall accident, you could be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. There are various types of damages available in any personal injury case. The term damages just refers to money paid to an injured party by the party who caused the harm.

What Damages Are Available in a New York Personal Injury Case?

Damages generally fall into two main categories – compensatory damages and punitive damages. The purpose of compensatory damages is sometimes described as a way to “make the victim whole.” When you are physically and emotionally harmed from an accident, money cannot return you to how you were before the accident. But the amount of money you receive from compensatory damages should be fair given the extent of your injuries and losses.

Compensatory damages typically consist of two subcategories – economic and non-economic damages.

Punitive damages have a different purpose. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate you for your injuries, but instead to punish the at-fault party for particularly reckless conduct that shows a disregard for human life. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, but they can come into play in cases like product liability, assault, nursing home abuse, and sometimes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What Damages Are Available in a New York Personal Injury Case?

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are awarded for financial losses directly connected to your accident or illness.

Economic damages can include compensation for any number of monetary losses depending on the specifics of your particular case.

Medical Treatment

You should not have to wrack up thousands of dollars in medical bills due to someone else’s negligence. Even when you have insurance, medical expenses can add up fast.

Compensation for medical treatment can cover:

  • Doctor or dentist bills
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgery
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitation or physical therapy

While many of these costs are easy to calculate, it’s important to work with a reputable personal injury lawyer to make sure that future expected medical needs are included in your settlement demand.

Lost Wages

Accidents often cause you to miss time from work. You may be out of work for weeks or months. Severe accidents causing permanent impairments or disabilities can prevent you from going back to work at all.

You may be able to seek compensation for:

  • Past lost wages: the actual value of lost wages from the time of your accident until you are able to return to work.
  • Future lost wages: the difference in your wages if you are unable to return to your job in the same capacity (or at all).

Even if you are able to return to work, you may have reduced earning capacity over your lifetime due to your injuries. You can recover compensation for the total financial impact of your accident, not just the exact amount of wages that you missed during recovery.

Property Damage

Physical injuries aren’t the only damages suffered in many accidents. If you’re in a motorcycle accident, your bike is likely in bad shape. In a car wreck, you may have had your computer, cell phone, or other valuable items with you that are now damaged or destroyed.

Out of Pocket Expenses

You may spend money on lots of things after your accident that don’t fall neatly into any particular category.

You may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical equipment, such as crutches, slings, or wheelchairs
  • Costs of child care or domestic services that you are unable to perform because of your accident
  • Modifications to your home or car due to a disability caused by your accident
  • Costs for transportation or hotel stays related to medical treatment

New York does not place a limit on the amount of economic damages you could receive in a trial verdict, and you can’t be required to reimburse your health insurer for what they paid on your behalf.

But there is a law on the books – called the collateral source rule – that could potentially reduce your award by the amount you have already received (or will receive) for the same loss. For example, any amount of your medical expenses paid by your health insurance – or covered in the future by your health insurance policy – may be deducted from your financial award. Personal injury laws are complex, and it’s in your best interest to consult a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later.

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How Much Are Economic Damages Worth?

Every case is unique, so the amount varies.

Some factors that affect the overall value of economic damages include:

  • Actual financial expenses incurred
  • The future value of financial losses based on inflation
  • The likelihood that you will make a full recovery
  • The financial impact on your family
  • Your age at the time of your accident
  • Whether you were partially at fault for the accident
  • The value of available insurance policies

Some economic damages are fairly easy to calculate. A doctor bill, for example, is fairly straightforward. But there are many different factors that go into calculating economic damages to make sure that you are fairly and adequately compensated for all of your financial losses. And insurance companies will look for reasons to undervalue your damages.

For your best chance at getting the full amount of compensation you deserve, look for a law firm that exclusively handles injury cases, with skilled trial lawyers who understand what it takes to see a case through all stages of litigation.