Personal injury claims arise when someone is injured as a result of another party’s negligence. For example, if you are involved in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you have the legal right to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Filing a personal injury claim allows you to recover compensation for your injuries from the at-fault party. If you have been injured, it’s important to understand the different types of compensation that may be awarded to you in a personal injury claim. The three main categories of compensation are:
- Economic Damages
- Non-Economic Damages
- Punitive Damages
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages are awarded to compensate personal injury victims for actual, measurable losses they have suffered as a result of their injuries. Personal injury victims are often awarded economic damages for their:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medication expenses
- Property repair costs
- Lost income
Economic damages should compensate victims for both their current and future injury-related losses. For example, a catastrophic injury may make it impossible for you to ever return to work full-time. If you are forced to work part-time, you should be compensated for the income you will lose now and in the future as a result of your injuries.
Many personal injury victims are awarded economic damages to cover future medical expenses. If you will need additional medical treatment in the future, it’s important to factor this in when calculating the value of your claim.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Economic damages cover measurable, monetary losses that can be verified with receipts and paystubs. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, cover non-monetary losses that are difficult to measure. In a personal injury case, victims are often awarded non-economic damages for:
- Emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent scarring
It’s hard to calculate the value of these losses. A number of factors must be considered when placing a value on non-economic losses, including:
- Extent of your injuries
- How your injuries have impacted your day-to-day life
- How your injuries have impacted you physically and mentally
- How your injuries were treated
- Long-term effects of your injuries
- Quality of life
Every personal injury claim is unique. But in general, non-economic losses are highest in cases involving severe, devastating injuries.
Economic and non-economic damages are typically not capped in personal injury cases in Indiana. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including caps on economic and non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice cases.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Economic and non-economic damages are awarded to compensate victims for specific losses, whereas punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant.
Punitive damages are never awarded in wrongful death cases, and rarely awarded in personal injury cases. In Indiana, this type of compensation is only awarded in personal injury cases where the defendant engaged in fraud, malice, or egregious conduct.
For example, the court may award punitive damages to a victim who was injured by a drunk driver who fled the scene of the accident. In this case, the court may find that the defendant’s behavior was egregious enough to warrant punitive damages. It is up to the plaintiff—with help from their attorney—to prove that they are entitled to punitive damages due to the defendant’s conduct.
There is a cap on punitive damages in Indiana. In this state, punitive damages are capped at the greater of $50,000 or three times the amount of economic and non-economic damages awarded to the victim. Furthermore, the victim is only entitled to 25% of the punitive damages awarded by the court. The remaining 75% will go to the state’s violent crime victims’ compensation fund.
For example, say you are awarded $50,000 in economic damages and $50,000 in non-economic damages. You present evidence that the defendant acted egregiously, and the court agrees that you are entitled to punitive damages. Because you were awarded $100,000 in economic and non-economic damages, you cannot be awarded more than $300,000 in punitive damages. Even though you were awarded $300,000, you are only entitled to 25%, or $75,000 of this compensation. The remaining $225,000 will go to the violent crime victims’ compensation fund.
Let Our Personal Injury Attorneys Fight For the Compensation You Deserve
Recovering compensation is not as easy as it seems, which is why it’s best to seek legal representation after an injury. If you have been injured, contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Beeman Heifner Benge P.A. as soon as possible. With our help, you can obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.