Value of Injuries
Catastrophic events, such as plane crashes, train or watercraft collisions, or pedestrian knockdowns by vehicles, cause death and severe injuries like limb paralysis, decapitation, internal organ and brain damage, spinal fractures, etc. Victim’s damages resulting from a traumatic occurrence are divided in general into economic and non-economic categories. "Economic" damages can be calculated based on the records and experts’ opinions, such as loss of earnings or medical expenses.
"Non-economic" damages, such as pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish or loss of consortium, are determined on the basis of the jury's or judge's experience in the common affairs of life. The non-economic damages are subjective and depend on a personal decision of an arbitrator, judge or a juror.
Health cannot always be completely restored for severely injured people. In case of a wrongful death, life cannot be returned. The American system of justice provides for a full, fair and just monetary compensation of all damages and losses, which resulted from the injurious occurrence. Such compensation is made only with money. Either a judge (in a bench trial) or a jury (in case of a jury trial) determines the amount of damages, which should be awarded to the injured parties. In determining these amounts, the case adjudicating tribunal takes into consideration a percentage of the injured party's fault in that occurrence. In general, if the majority of the fault lies with the injured party, then there will be no financial recovery at all as prescribed by state laws.
In addition to compensatory damages, the injured may be awarded punitive or exemplary damages per federal or state laws. Such damages are awarded in cases where the-at-fault party's acts were willful and wanton, or egregious in their nature, to-wit, they demonstrate a conscious disregard for the injured party’s wellbeing. In order to preserve the rights to recovery and receive full compensation for damages, attorneys gather and save evidence connected with the traumatic event, such as incident investigation reports, receipts, bills, pictures of the injured person, witness statements, physical objects involved in the injurious occurrence, and documents pertaining to that event.
Compensation for severe traumas to the aggrieved parties does not depend on their citizenship. A foreign traveler or an illegal alien has the right to recovery for damages caused by a tortfeasor or work incident / injury. Award of damages may reach millions of dollars, particularly in cases of wrongful death, brain damage, limb amputations, or paralysis. Value of each injury (or aggravation of a pre-existing condition) comprises:
Medical expenses covering all costs incurred prior to the claim settlement or adjudication date (even if all bills have been paid by third parties).
Future medical expenses based on medical experts’ estimates of anticipated surgeries, postoperative care, life care cost, rehabilitation and treatment of sustained injuries.
Past disability (inability to do things one could do prior to the injurious event) prior to the claim settlement or adjudication date.
Future disability based on injuries, victim’s life expectancy according to the published U.S. Life Tables, and physicians’ / health care professionals’ opinions.
Loss of earnings based on lost work time or profits of the victim’s business (corporate and personal income tax returns’ disclosure is required for proof of loss).
Future loss of earnings depending on injuries, life expectancy, financial history, skills and work experience.
Disfigurement (permanent scars, change of appearance, amputated limb, etc.) depending on injuries, victim’s life expectancy, gender, and location of disfiguring injury.
Past pain and suffering based on the testimony of the injured party and other witnesses (family, friends, health care personnel and co-workers) and evaluations by jurors, e.g. decedent’s pain and suffering experienced prior to death (even if such suffering continued for a few seconds and evidenced by groaning, hand or eye movements).
Future pain and suffering to be experienced by the injured and affected by severity of trauma, its treatment and victim’s life expectancy.
Property damages (destroyed vehicle, clothes, house, eyeglasses, etc.).
In case of wrongful death, value of the victim’s spouse and lineal next-of-kin (children, siblings and parents) claim includes loss of society or companionship (love, affection, marital relationship, services, financial support, friendship and protection) and funeral and medical expenses (even if all bills have been paid by insurance carriers).
Damages are calculated at the time of death and may not be diminished by insurance policy proceeds or another estate revenue.
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