Have you been injured in an accident in St. Louis? Did someone harm you by their negligence or intentional acts? If so, you could be entitled to compensation for damages.
Missouri personal injury laws allow individuals to seek compensation for numerous types of damages, depending on the facts of the case.
The four types of damages available in personal injury cases:
- Economic damages (special damages)
- Non-economic damages (general damages)
- Punitive damages
- Property damages
Understanding what types of damages you may recover is essential if you want to maximize the value of your personal injury claim. Let’s discuss each of the four categories of damages in more detail.
Economic Damages in Missouri Personal Injury Cases
Economic damages represent your out-of-pocket expenses related to your accident or injury. Many people understand that they can receive reimbursement for medical bills and lost wages. However, many other types of financial losses might be included in this category of damages.
The cost of medical care is one of the most common types of financial damages caused by an accident or injury. Medical expenses can total hundreds of thousands of dollars in a catastrophic injury case. Likewise, over a lifetime, a person who sustains a permanent disability could incur millions of dollars in medical bills.
Examples of medical expenses included in a personal injury claim are:
- Hospital and rehabilitative care
- Emergency room and ambulance fees
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health counseling, vocational therapy, etc.
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Mobility devices
- Home health care costs and long-term care costs
Make sure that you follow your doctor’s treatment plan to maximize recovery for your damages.
Loss of Income and Benefits
Lost wages, overtime, salaries, benefits, commissions, bonuses, and other forms of income can also represent a substantial portion of economic damages. The longer you are out of work, the more money you lose because of your injury.
However, in addition to past and current losses of income, you could also be entitled to future lost wages. For example, if you cannot work because of permanent impairment, you can claim future lost wages. Likewise, if your earning capacity decreases because of an impairment, you may claim the loss as an economic damage.
Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Depending on the facts of your case, you could recover reimbursement for a variety of out-of-pocket expenses.
- Cost of household help to clean, cook, mow the lawn, run errands, and help care for children
- Travel expenses to and from your medical appointments
- Assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating
It is vital that you keep detailed records of your out-of-pocket losses, such as copies of receipts, invoices, bills, etc. Without proof of the charge, you cannot demand reimbursement for the cost.
Non-Economic Damages in Personal Injury Cases in Missouri
You cannot quantify non-economic damages with a formula or statutory rule. They are subjective. Each person suffers from an injury in a unique way.
Insurance companies often downplay the severity of non-economic damages. However, these damages are just as significant as economic damages.
Pain and Suffering
The pain and suffering you experience because of an injury or accident are referred to as non-economic damages. Pain and suffering may include physical discomfort, or it may include emotional distress and mental anguish.
Examples of mental anguish and emotional distress include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Eating disorders
The trauma a person experiences after being involved in an accident or sustaining a severe injury can be overwhelming.
Loss of Use and Enjoyment
An injury can result in a reduction in your quality of life. You may not be able to enjoy the same activities as you enjoyed before the accident. Your injuries could have a negative impact on your relationships with family members and friends.
You are entitled to compensation for the involuntary changes in your lifestyle caused by the injury. Creating a detailed list of how your life has changed could support this type of damage.
Permanent Impairment and Disability
Accident victims may be compensated for the impairments and disabilities caused by the accident. In most cases, the more severe the injury, the higher the compensation.
Loss of Consortium
Your spouse may file a loss of consortium claim against the party who caused your injury.
A loss of consortium claim compensates your spouse for the loss of:
- Love and affection
- Sexual relations
- Ability to have children
There could be other things that qualify as a loss of consortium. The recovery for a loss of consortium claim is paid to your spouse.
When Are Punitive Damages Permitted in Personal Injury Cases?
Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages. Compensatory damages like economic and non-economic damages “compensate” the victim for a specific loss.
However, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff, even though the plaintiff receives the money. Instead, these damages “punish” a person for gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.
Punitive damages are not awarded in personal injury claims often. The defendant’s conduct must meet or exceed the requirements in the Missouri code for the payment of punitive damages.
The code states that punitive damages are not awarded unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted intentionally to harm the plaintiff or acted with flagrant and deliberate disregard for the safety of other individuals.
Are Property Damages Included in Personal Injury Damages?
Property damages are not included in personal injury damages. This type of damage compensates a person for the physical damage to personal property, such as the damage to a vehicle caused by a car accident.
Claims for property damage are generally settled shortly after the accident. The value of a property damage claim is based on the item’s fair market value or the amount to repair the item.
How Do I Calculate the Value of My Personal Injury Damages?
Determining how much your personal injury claim is worth can be challenging. You will need evidence of the amount of money you lost because of medical bills, lost work, travel, and other out-of-pocket costs.
Calculating pain and suffering damages is highly complicated. There is not a set rule or statutory formula for valuing non-economic damages.
However, the multiplier method is often used to calculate pain and suffering damages. A number between 1.5 and five is chosen based on the facts of the case. Catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments usually rate a four or five.
That number is multiplied by the total of your economic damages. The result is the value of your pain and suffering damages.
If you are unsure how much your personal injury claim is worth, the best way to find out is to talk with a personal injury lawyer.
Contact Our St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
We understand that you have questions about your personal injury case. Contact our St. Louis firm to schedule your free consultation with one of the Missouri personal injury attorneys at Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers.
We provide a no-cost assessment of your case and answer personal injury FAQs during your initial consultation. Get the facts about how to handle a personal injury claim from a trusted, experienced injury attorney.