What Are Economic Damages in Personal Injury?


Being involved in an accident can cause not only physical, but also emotional and mental pain and suffering. Recovery from an injury sustained during an accident can take months, and in some cases, can even result in permanent impairments that can affect a victim’s quality of life indefinitely. In addition to the personal toll, accident victims also experience significant financial losses. Fortunately, the insurance company of the party at fault is often responsible for covering the victim’s losses, including economic damages.

Economic damages

Economic damages refer to the financial losses incurred by a victim as a result of their accident, which can include future anticipated losses. These damages can constitute a substantial part of a victim’s claim or case, and typically encompass several categories.

Medical expenses

Medical expenses are usually the largest component of an economic damages award, as treating injuries can be costly. Ambulance services, emergency room costs, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, medical equipment, physicians’ bills, and therapy costs are among the types of medical expenses that may be recoverable in a personal injury case. The extent of these expenses is often influenced by the severity of the injury, with more severe injuries resulting in greater medical costs.

Lost income and benefits

Lost income and benefits also make up a significant portion of economic damages. Victims are entitled to compensation for both past and future lost earnings resulting from the accident or injury. A reduction in earning capacity due to injury is also compensable. Lost benefits and other forms of income such as bonuses, commissions, vacation time, and paid time off should also be factored into the value of a victim’s loss of income claim.

Other out-of-pocket expenses

Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident or injury can also be included in economic damages. These may include assistance with household chores or childcare, personal care such as assistance with bathing and dressing, home health care or long-term nursing care, travel expenses to and from medical appointments, modifications to the home or car due to a permanent disability, and special medical equipment or supplies. Keeping meticulous records of these expenses, including bills, invoices, and receipts, is crucial to increasing the value of an injury claim.

Calculating the Value

Calculating the value of economic damages typically involves totaling up all the invoices, bills, and receipts related to the victim’s injury. However, in some cases, expert testimony may be required to determine the value of future medical care or future loss of income. For example, a medical expert may testify as to how a brain injury affects the victim’s daily life, while a financial expert may calculate future lost wages or earning potential based on a range of factors.

Document it!

Proving that expenses were incurred is essential in obtaining maximum compensation for economic damages. Keeping thorough documentation, including copies of bills, invoices, and receipts, as well as a detailed log of expenses, can help ensure that all losses are accounted for. For instance, if a victim paid someone to drive them to medical appointments, having that person provide a written “bill” and paying them with a check creates a paper trail that an insurance company can follow. Although it may seem cumbersome, such attention to detail can significantly increase the payment received in a personal injury claim.

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