If you have been injured in an accident you have the right to receive money for your injuries. Regardless of whether you are injured in an auto accident, boating accident or a slip and fall, a settlement or judgment in your favor will include monies to compensate certain injuries. These monies awarded are referred to as damages and always cover medical bills and costs directly related to the injury. However, these are not the only damages that are possible. Awards can include future estimated medical expense, time lost from work, damage to your property, such as your vehicle, emotional distress and even future earnings.
One type of damages that a Minnesota plaintiff can win in a personal injury lawsuit is compensatory damages. As the name suggests, compensatory damages are awarded in order to compensate the plaintiff. Compensatory damages are also referred to as general damages. These damages typically include costs related to the injury and are sometimes said to be to make the plaintiff “whole”. Compensatory damages typically include lost wages, medical bills (reimbursement to the health insurance company), rental care expenses (in an auto accident case), money for pain and suffering and compensation for trauma due to negligence. Loss of companionship can also be awarded under compensatory damages. This is compensation for time the victim is unable to spend with a spouse or family due to injuries.
Damages for medical injuries can be for both physical and emotional trauma. While physical injuries are easy to estimate, emotional trauma can be trickier to calculate. Typically a plaintiff’s attorney will send the plaintiff to a doctor who specializes in emotional trauma, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Those damages will then be calculated through testimony by the doctor as to the emotional trauma suffered, such as post-traumatic stress injuries. Additionally, emotional trauma can sometimes take the form of a close family member of the plaintiff, such as a spouse, being traumatized by the injury to the plaintiff. One type of damages that can be collected in this situation is loss of consortium damages. Loss of consortium damages are intended to compensate the spouse or other loved one, for loss of companionship.
In some cases, plaintiffs can also collect punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded in extreme cases and at the discretion of the jury if the case goes to trial. Punitive damages are typically only awarded where a reckless act was committed intentionally. Punitive damages are used to punish the other party and are not as easy to calculate as compensatory damages. These damages are must less easy to predict and are awarded based on the outrageous conduct of the defendant. The use of punitive damages is meant to deter others from engaging in any similar wrongful conduct. Typically the wrongful act must be shocking and extreme for punitive damages to be awarded.
A Minnesota attorney who specializes in personal injury law can help to determine what damages a victim of an injury might be entitled to. Be sure to contact an attorney as soon as possible after you are injured to be sure your rights are protected.