The value of your personal injury case depends on a number of interconnected factors. If you are wondering how much money your case is worth, the issue ultimately boils down to a question “damages”. In a personal injury case, money damages can be paid to the injured party as the result of a negotiated settlement, jury verdict, or judgement of the Court. Damages are broken down into two categories — Compensatory and Punitive.
Compensatory damages are damages awarded to compensate the injured party for any harm done to him or her in an attempt to make that party “whole”, or as close to whole as can be done with a money award. Compensatory damages include categories such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, medical bills, or property loss. Note that it is often difficult to put a money figure on certain compensatory damages such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
Punitive damages are damages are different in nature from compensatory damages. If a party’s actions are deemed outrageously careless or egregious, then a person can be awarded punitive damages in addition to any award of compensatory damages. The rationale behind allowing punitive damages in addition to money to compensate is that some conduct is so harmful that that party should be punished for their actions. Another rationale for punitive awards is that large punitive verdicts often act as a deterrent for others. It is a way for juries to tell the community that “this behavior is not allowed in our community”.
At the end of the day, the value of your case depends on what damages you can prove should your case proceed to trial. If you have been injured, it is recommended that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you determine what type of potential legal claim you have and what evidence is available to prove your damages.