What are damages and why do they matter?
If you have ever been involved in an accident because of someone else’s negligence, you probably cared about the injuries sustained. In a personal injury case, damages are the monetary compensation awarded to the injured person after an accident. The purpose of this money is to help the victim move on from the physical and emotional toll post-accident.
So how are these damages awarded? What factors come into play?
Nature of injury
The nature of the injury sustained is probably one of the most important factors that will affect the amount of money you can recover. The more severe the injury is, the higher the award. A person who suffers permanent medical conditions also receives higher damage awards than one who sustains non-permanent injuries.
In addition, severe injuries that are medically proved receive greater damages.
Defendant’s liability, which is the degree to which they are at fault, affects the compensatory damages awarded. For example, if the plaintiff was sleeping in a car hit by a drunk driver, the defendant will ultimately be at fault. However, if the victim is found is to be partially at fault for the accident, the damages awarded are reduced. In most cases, the damages are assessed depending on each defendant’s culpability.
Victim and defendants credibility
The believability of your claim significantly influences your claim. The jury or insurance company is likely to trust your claim if you can vividly describe the accident’s events in an intelligent and believable way. Keep in mind that the jury will judge both you and the defendant, and what they think of you will affect their decision.
Hence, your credibility will affect the amount of damages award. This means your evidence ought to be meaningful, concise, and empathetic.
The credibility will also affect the amount you receive. If the defendant’s version of the accident damages their credibility, you will receive higher damages.
Usually, witness credibility affects the number of damages awarded in most personal injury trials. The witness should not only describe the accident itself, but explain your condition before the accident. It is crucial to have a witness who can help the jury understand just how much the accident has affected you.
In most cases, the witness testimony will affect the case’s outcome, mostly in favor of the plaintiff.
Plaintiff’s age will affect the value of their claim, especially if they suffer permanent injuries. For example, suppose you are a young person who loses mobility in an accident. In that case, the jury will award a higher damages award than they would to an older adult with the same injury. The argument is a younger person has more pain and suffering, loss of opportunity, mental distress, and inconvenience ahead of them than an elderly victim does.
Contributory and comparative negligence
These two refer to responsibility for compensating a victim after an accident. What matters is who is more responsible for the accident.
Contributory negligence determines what role the injured person played in causing his or her own accident. In this case, the defendant may take legal action against the person filing the lawsuit if they believe the plaintiff is to blame for their own injuries.
On the other hand, comparative negligence examines how much each person contributed to the accident. In some states, if the plaintiff was more at fault, they receive no damages for their accident. In other states, the jury awards the plaintiff the percentage they were not at fault if the defendant can prove the plaintiff was partially to blame for the accident.