Personal injury is a well-known area of law. It is also well known that when someone is hurt by another person, the person doing the hurting should have to pay for the harm he/ she caused. The tricky part is determining how to value an accident and injuries. Lawyers who practice personal injury law are really good at valuing the harm someone has experienced, but their methods aren’t a secret. When lawyers mention “damages” they are actually talking about money. There are several types of damages or categories of money that determine how much an injury or harm may be worth.
The first type of damages is called compensatory damages. The point of compensatory damages is to put the party in the same position they were in before the accident. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate for the accident. For example, medical expenses are compensatory damages because the injured party has suffered harm and paying that person’s medical bills will help put them in the position they were in before the accident. Medical expenses include hospital visits, doctor visits, imaging, tests, physical therapy, prescription drugs, and medical expenses the party reasonably expects to pay in the future because of the accident. Another common type of compensatory damages is lost income. If the injured party misses work because of their accident, he/she may be able to recover the money he/she would have made. The other common type of compensatory damages is money for property damage. This would include the amount necessary to replace or repair a vehicle involved in a car accident.
In addition, compensatory damages may also include pain and suffering. This amount is meant to provide relief to a party for the harm that party has endured. When determining how much pain and suffering to ask for, consider the extent of the injured party’s harm, taking into account past and future medical expenses. Also, consider how long the party will have to deal with the effects of his/her injury.
And lastly, compensatory damages can sometimes include amounts for emotional distress. Recovering for emotional distress alone is very rare. Usually, to successfully recover for emotional distress, a party must show that he/she went through emotional suffering that resulted in a physical manifestation. This can look like increased anxiety, headaches, or any other physical symptom.
Aside from compensatory damages, some cases may include punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not meant to make the injured party whole. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer. In South Carolina, a party seeking punitive damages must prove that the wrongdoer acted willfully, wantonly, or recklessly. South Carolina limits the amount of punitive damages to $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
Determining how much a party is entitled to because of an accident is not a secret. It may feel secretive because the laws contain a bunch of legal wording, but essentially, damages are determined based on the amount of harm someone has experienced. Allowing a party to recover is meant to put that party in the same situation they were in before the accident and sometimes, punish the wrongdoer.
King Law Offices is a full-service estate planning law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. Contact King Law and let us help you at 888-748-KING (5464) or by filling out our consultation form. We have offices located across western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. We are here to serve you and to guide you as we navigate this journey together.