When an individual suffers harm as a result of another person’s conduct or an entity’s choices, the law generally allows that individual to hold the party responsible for the harm accountable in court. In most instances, a personal injury lawsuit is the means by which the responsible party is compelled to right those wrongs that have been committed.
It is important to understand that personal injury claims are generally only successful when the person or entity that caused an individual harm was negligent, reckless or intentional in his, her or its conduct. For example, if a driver caused an accident because he or she was texting while driving, that conduct could be considered negligent or reckless. That driver could likely be held accountable for the offending conduct and resulting conduct in court. However, if a driver causes a crash because that driver is suffering his or her first heart attack and is distracted by sudden pain and the potentially life-threatening nature of that pain, that distraction is not likely negligent or reckless.
Only when another party has a duty to others and is in breach of that duty due to disregard of the potential consequences of his, her or its behavior is harm resulting from that behavior generally actionable under the law. When personal injury claims are proper, appropriately filed and are ultimately successful, eligible plaintiffs may be compensated by awards of economic and/or non-economic damages.
Economic damage awards are generally tied to specific and objective financial harms caused by the accident that is the focus of the case. Restitution for past and future medical expenses, funeral costs, compensation for property damage and lost wages are examples of economic damages. Economic damages are more frequently awarded in personal injury cases than non-economic damages because this kind is objective and therefore easily measurable. Physical proof of harm in the form of medical bills and car repair receipts tend to serve as valuable evidence of an accident’s tangible consequences.
Non-economic damages are largely subjective and are therefore harder to quantify. As a result, these damages tend to vary in scale and are not always awarded to otherwise successful personal injury plaintiffs. For example, pain and suffering awards and loss of companionship awards are difficult to determine with any accuracy. After all, it is difficult to attach a dollar amount to the price of an individual’s suffering or to the loss of a loved one. States may also place caps on these kinds of awards.
If you have questions about personal injury claims and/or compensation awards related to personal injury claims, do not hesitate to speak with a personal injury lawyer Memphis, TN. Attorneys experienced in this area of law will be able to answer your questions and advise you of your legal options based on your unique circumstances. Personal injury claims tend to be complex and may be impacted by unique state laws, so speaking with an attorney will give you a more informed view on your specific situation.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Patterson Bray for their insight into personal injury cases.