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What Types of Compensation Are Available in a Personal Injury Case?

You’ve suffered a fall, car accident, dog bite, or other type of injury caused by someone else’s mistake. What now? With a personal injury lawsuit, Alabama victims can seek compensation from the party liable for their injuries. If this is your first time navigating the legal process, you likely have lots of questions. Many victims wonder exactly how much compensation they can recover, and which types of compensation are available. Damages are broken down into several categories, allowing you and your attorney to figure out how much you may be entitled to.

Economic/Special Damages

The first category is economic damages. This includes all costs that are measurable and are directly linked to the injury. These expenses include:

  • Medical expenses incurred because of your injury. After an accident, you may quickly rack up debt from ambulance trips, ER expenses, surgical procedures, medications, and follow-up visits. The settlement or jury award you receive should cover all of these expenses. Furthermore, it should pay for the future medical care you’re likely to need because of the accident. This is common for victims of serious accidents.
  • Physical therapy and other rehabilitative needs. If the accident leaves you injured to the point that you need rehabilitative therapy to heal your muscles and relearn basic life skills, the costs add up quickly. Many care providers require weekly visits or multiple trips per week. A settlement should cover the extensive costs associated with rehabilitative care.
  • Loss of income, both present and future. Short-term, an accident often means taking time off work or spending time on light duty to recover. Long-term, a serious accident may permanently limit or eliminate your ability to work.
  • Property damage. If you suffered any property damage in the accident, this should be compensated for in your settlement.

Non-Economic/General Damages

Beyond the obvious and easily calculated damages of your injury, there are other losses that are more difficult to assess. These include:

  • Pain and suffering. No matter how well your injury heals, you undoubtedly sustain a substantial amount of pain during the process. The legal system compensates victims’ pain and suffering under the umbrella category of non-economic damages.
  • Disfigurement and impairment. If you suffer permanent loss of senses, loss of limbs, or other bodily changes, you may be entitled to additional compensation. The same is true if the accident places new permanent restrictions on your movement or activities.
  • Mental anguish. Many victims suffer PTSD, anxiety, and depression after an accident. This type of compensation seeks to remedy that.

Punitive Damages

In Alabama, victims may be entitled to punitive damages under certain circumstances. While the goal of economic and non-economic damages is to right a wrong by making a victim whole, the goal of punitive damages is to punish an offender and discourage future similar behavior. Because of this, punitive damages are only awarded when the plaintiff can prove that the defendant engaged in malice, wanton neglect, oppression, or fraud. For example, in a car accident, a driver that has racked up 4 DUI arrests and was drunk at the time of the accident may have acted in obvious disregard for the victim and others.

Under Alabama law, punitive damages awarded to victims should not exceed an amount three times higher than a victim’s compensatory damages or $500,000. If the plaintiff suffered a physical injury, punitive damages cap at $1.5 million.

Remember, punitive damages are rarely awarded in Alabama. Getting this type of compensation requires an attorney who can conclusively prove that a defendant engaged in wanton disregard or malice for others’ safety. This is one reason you should work with an experienced personal injury attorney after your accident.

How Our Team Can Help

Determining how much compensation you may be owed depends largely on the details of your accident, and without a legal background, it is extremely difficult to make a fair assessment. The team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. is here to fight aggressively for what you deserve. By investigating your accident and subsequent injuries, we will determine how much the other party is at fault and fight for a settlement or court award that properly compensates you for your losses.

The clock starts ticking as soon as you’re injured, and waiting too long could mean that you recover nothing. It’s crucial to move quickly and retain an attorney who will take over the claim process for you. To discuss your case and take the next step, reach out to Burns, Cunningham, & Mackey, P.C. online or call us at 251-260-3815.