Those who suffer injuries because of another party’s negligence may struggle to pay medical bills, or they may attempt to return to work before they are ready due to financial constraints. For people in this situation, a personal injury case may compensate them for what they’ve lost as a result of an accident. Determining the value of your case in West Virginia depends on several factors.
What a case is worth is known as the “damages” – or money paid by the negligent party to the injured person. Damages financially represent what the accident has cost the plaintiff – the person who was injured – as a result of the injury, and they may be economic or compensation for intangible things such as pain and suffering. According to West Virginia law, the amount of damages is compensatory, meaning it compensates the plaintiff for what he or she has lost as a result of the injury. This can mean many things depending on the situation.
Common Reasons for Damages:
Medical Care. One of the greatest expenses resulting from a personal injury is medical treatment. When courts consider the amount of damages they should award a plaintiff, medical bills are a critical factor. This amount is compensatory for what a plaintiff has already paid. It can also be an estimation of what might need to be paid in the future for ongoing medical care.
Property Loss. If property was damaged as a result of an accident, the plaintiff may be reimbursed for the repairs or replacement of whatever was damaged. This could be a vehicle, a home, clothing, or other physical property.
Income. For people who missed work as a result of an injury from another’s negligence, the defendant may be ordered to reimburse the plaintiff for the monies they would have earned had they been able to continue working. If a person has been injured to such a degree that he or she can no longer work, the court will likely factor in lost future wages, called “loss of earning capacity.” The courts determine this amount by considering what the plaintiff earned as well as what his or her earning potential would have been without the injury.
Pain and Suffering. A plaintiff can calculate pain and suffering into damages if the incident caused significant physical pain. If that pain is ongoing, it will likely increase the amount of damages. There is a financial cap in West Virginia for the amount of non-monetary damages a defendant must pay. This includes pain and suffering as well as emotional distress.
Emotional Pain or Distress. Different than physical pain, if an accident caused someone to feel psychological pain – continually anxious, afraid, or unable to sleep – the courts may consider this in the damages’ award. Some states group all non-monetary damages together.
Loss of Consortium. Loss of consortium generally describes the change in the relationship the plaintiff will have with his or her spouse. It can mean the loss of companionship or the inability to engage in sexual relations. This term, however, can mean the loss of a future relationship between a parent and child. Sometimes, these awards are given directly to the spouse or affected party.
When calculating possible damages, a court may consider how the plaintiff’s actions contributed to whatever caused the injury. If a plaintiff is partially at fault for the incident, that fault may be reflected in the amount of damages a court will award, and they will be reduced by an appropriate percentage.
If you believe you have a personal injury case and would like to determine the value of your potential compensation, reach out to the team of skilled West Virginia personal injury attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC. Our experience in the courtroom means we can give you an idea of how far your case can go to financially compensate you after an injury. We offer free initial case evaluations so contact us today!