There are a variety of different types of damages which may be available to someone in a personal injury lawsuit.
Every personal injury case allows you to recover your specific or economic damages, meaning out of pocket expenses of your injury which are readily quantifiable in monetary value, including:
Past and future medical expenses
This includes not only the bills for the immediate treatment you received in the emergency room, but also the medical care you will require in the future. This can mean future surgeries, in home nursing care, necessary medical devices like a wheelchair, and physical therapy.
Past and future lost wages
The wages you lose while you are not able to work due to your injuries are part of your damages, but this category also includes wages your injuries will prevent you from earning in the future.
Your personal injury settlement or award should also include the cost of fixing or replacing any of your property that was damaged.
Non-economic damages are subjective, meaning the jury would have to decide the value of your loss or suffering, and are only available if they make sense given the circumstances of the case. Non-economic damages include:
Past and future physical pain
While some injuries are minor or only hurt before they are treated, others can result in excruciating pain for months, years, or even the rest of the victim’s lifetime.
In certain cases, you are allowed to recover for any mental anguish the accident may have caused you, whether or not you were physically injured. However, if you were not physically injured, to recover for your mental anguish the accident must involve intentional or malicious conduct, breach of a special relationship, or particularly disturbing events.
Disfigurement and physical impairment
Disfigurement is defined as injuries or impairments to the beauty, symmetry, or appearance of a person or an injury that that renders unsightly, misshapen, imperfect, or deformed in some manner. Disfigurements can heal, but you may claim damages up to the time the disfigurement is expected to end. Impairment is defined as a loss of enjoyment of life. It occurs when the pain is so bad that you cannot maintain your day-to-day activities you could prior to the injury.
Loss of consortium
If you or your loved one is injured, then you may claim damages for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium only applies to spouses, parents, and children. Loss of consortium is based on the loss of love, affection, protection, emotional support, companionship, care, and society that can occur when a family member is injured
In the unfortunate case where a loved one dies; you may file a wrongful death suit. A wrongful death suit can be brought by a spouse, parent, child, or executor of the deceased. The damages under a wrongful death case are for the losses sustained by the individuals listed above. These include pecuniary losses or losses of earning capacity, advice, counsel, services, care, maintenance, and support, funeral expenses, mental anguish, loss of companionship and society, and loss of inheritance.
Defenses to Damages
Defendants to personal injury lawsuits can allege certain defenses to a plaintiff’s damages claim, including:
Texas follows what is commonly referred to as the shared fault rule. This rule requires that, if multiple persons or businesses are partially to blame for your accident or injury, each can only be held liable for part of damages which is proportionate to their share of fault. The court will determine what percentage of fault or responsibility each party bears. When damages are awarded, each party will be ordered to pay a portion of the damages equal to their percentage of fault.
This means that you can recover damages even if the court finds that you are also partially at fault for your own injuries. The court will reduce the damages defendant has to pay by the percentage to which you are determined to be at fault.
However, Texas law will not allow you to recover any damages if the court decides that you were mostly (greater than 50%) at fault for your injuries.
Failure to mitigate damages
Under Texas law, plaintiffs in personal injury cases are expected to take reasonable steps to minimize or “mitigate” the harm caused by the accident. For example, if an injured plaintiff fails to get necessary medical treatment after an accident and the failure to obtain treatment makes the injuries worse; the court may reduce a damage award by the amount which could have been prevented by taking reasonable steps.