FAQ: What damages can I recover in a personal injury claim?

There are a variety of damages that you can recover in a personal injury claim, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all manner of economic and non-economic expenses. Learn more about these below or contact a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis.


Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are intended to replace, or else “compensate,” what you lost as a result of an accident and your injuries.

Missouri law seeks to put the victim in the position he or she would have been in had the accident not occurred. For example, a lawsuit surely cannot bring a loved one back or make you uninjured, healthy, and whole again, BUT money damages can help you avoid absorbing the financial burden of an injury that was not your fault and may also lead to a more bearable life by securing better treatment.

There are two types of compensatory damages that most personal injury lawsuits center around: economic and noneconomic.

1. Economic Damages

Economic damages are the monetary amounts that can be calculated on paper as a result of an accident and the subsequent injury.

Injuries have a direct financial impact on the victims of car accidents, truck accidents, and more. For example, injuries require medical treatment which can range from non-invasive treatment to major surgeries and long-term medical care such as daily living assistance, therapy, and accommodative needs. As such, personal injury lawsuits allow victims to recover all economic damages — past, present, and future — directly incurred as a result of their injuries, including:

  • Medical expenses – all recovery, rehabilitation, or health-related care (emergency room visits,medications, physical medical aids, chiropractic visits, x-rays, rehab, lab tests, ambulance services, parking fees, rental car, etc.)
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Cost of disability accommodations
  • Damaged or destroyed property
  • Funeral expenses in wrongful death claims

The above list is not exhaustive, as there are many other quantifiable financial losses caused by an injury that can be recovered.

Reimbursement for medical costs begins on the date of the accident and can cover financial losses incurred over the course of the time following an accident, as well as any future economic needs. It is important to keep documents from medical professionals, auto shop receipts, and all other bills you paid following an accident so that you may be reimbursed fairly. Give them to your attorney to keep track of all economic damages.

2. Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are NOT financial sums that can be calculated on paper, but they seek to cover the intangible losses that the victims experience as a result of an accident and the subsequent injury. Noneconomic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering – mental anguish, emotional distress, grief, depression, anxiety, and PTSD
  • Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of emotional support

Although these situations do not have a price tag to determine their worth, non-economic losses can be just as devastating as economic losses, if not more. For example, let’s say you had an able body before an accident and enjoyed talking long walks, playing with your children, and doing other joyful activities outside. If you endured a serious back injury in a truck accident that prevents you from taking part in the cherished activities you once enjoyed, this can cause a lot of grief and general “loss of enjoyment of life”for which you deserve justice.

Because these general damages do not have receipts and are not available in every case, they can be difficult to value. An experienced attorney can help injury victims and families quantify their noneconomic losses and prove them to the other party. For example, in order to prove something like emotional distress, a personal injury lawyer will help you obtain written evidence provided by a mental health professional to give credibility to your case.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages do not qualify under compensatory damages because they are not intended to cover the plaintiff’s costs and losses, but rather, they are designed to punish the defendant when their actions go beyond mere negligence and consist of intentional wrongdoing or gross carelessness. These cases also deter others from similar conduct in the future.

Punitive damages are rare because you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was egregious or intentional, which is a very high burden to meet and will require the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. If proven, however, this is an extra financial settlement amount on top of your compensatory damages awarded in the case.


Personal Injury Lawyer | The Hayden Law Firm

If you have been injured through someone else’s negligence, you deserve damages, Do not hesitate to contact us or call St. Louis personal injury lawyer Amanda Hayden at (314) 480-3100 for a free, no-risk consultation


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