Date:January 3, 2017
The New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC are frequently asked how we determine what is fair compensation for a case. In other words, how do we determine what a personal injury case is worth? The answer to this question varies as every personal injury case is unique. However, we wanted to provide our readers with an explanation for how damages are generally calculated in a New Hampshire personal injury case.
Different types of damages exist in every personal injury case, whether the victim was injured as a result of an automobile collision, a dog bite, a workplace accident, or any other type of personal injury. Compensatory damages are amounts of money that directly compensate the injured victim for the physical and financial injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing (known as “negligence” in the law). Compensatory damages include medical bills from physicians and other medical professionals. Also potentially included within compensatory damages are out-of-pocket charges such as prescription medication costs, mileage costs for traveling to physician appointments, and financial losses that are tied directly to the victim’s injuries (i.e. lost wages).
Pain and suffering is also considered a compensatory damage because the injured victim is being compensated for enduring pain and the loss of enjoyment of life that would not have been suffered without the negligence of those who caused the injuries. In some cases, if the actions of the person who caused the injuries were exceptionally or knowingly negligent, the injured party may be awarded what are known as enhanced damages. For information on enhanced compensatory damages, see this article from Manning & Zimmerman Law.
Specific damages are those that can be quantified on paper. For example, if an injured victim goes to the emergency room to receive medical treatment, the bills from the hospital and medical professionals qualify as specific damages. The injured victim would receive a bill showing what treatment was received and the cost of each item. It is very easy to get copies of physician bills, prescription receipts, and medical supplies receipts.
Regarding lost wages, for those who are W-2 employees and unable to work, it is very easy to calculate how much income was lost as a result of the injuries. For those who are not hourly or salaried employees, or have infrequent periods of work or payment, it may be difficult to prove special damages with their own testimony. The New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman may need to hire an expert to calculate what an injured victim’s lost wages are based on. This is generally done by an analysis of an injured person’s past income and the income of those who work a similar job in the area.
The most difficult type of lost wages to calculate and prove is lost opportunities. New Hampshire injury lawyers must be able to prove to a jury or judge that, had a victim not suffered any injuries, they would have been able to accept employment, while also calculating how much income would have been received as a result. Given how difficult this is to prove in a court of law, injury victims are not always guaranteed to recover all of their lost wages unless they are employed on an hourly or salaried basis.
In addition to compensation for past and present specific damages, if the injuries are severe or permanent, a claim may be made for future medical expenses. The New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can determine future medical expenses when the injured victim’s physician performs a medical evaluation and finds that the injured person will require future medical treatment to maintain their quality of life.
General damages are those that cannot be assigned a dollar value on paper. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent injury are the most common types of general damages. New Hampshire injury lawyers may present to the jury an amount or a formula for calculating general damages, but ultimately it is up to the “enlightened conscience of an impartial jury” to determine the compensation an injured victim receives for general damages. Also, where a lawsuit goes to trial is very important in determining how much a jury might award a plaintiff for general damages. In New Hampshire, a lawsuit may be filed in the county where either the plaintiff or the defendant(s) reside.
A good rule of thumb (while not infallible) is that general damages will be based loosely on the amount of these types of damages, particular in regard to medical bills. The amount of pain and suffering also depends on the severity of the victim’s injuries. Juries award more general pain and suffering damages to those who, for example, lose a limb, than those who experience six months of neck and back pain.
It can be a very complex process to determine the value of personal injury cases. Often the true value of a personal injury claim cannot be assessed until the injured victim has received the bulk of their medical treatment. Medical providers must determine the full extent of a victim’s injuries and provide that information to the injured person’s New Hampshire injury lawyers via bills and medical records.
If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, contact the New Hampshire injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning and Zimmerman, PLLC. There are no up-front costs for our services. All personal injury and workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 624-7200, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us by using the chat feature on our website.