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Economic Recovery for Injuries, Part 1

If you are injured, you may be entitled to an economic recovery from those at fault. Your recovery will depend upon many factors. However, many victims are not aware of the different types of recovery available to them and, in some situations, even their family members.

General damages
Compensation for harm that you might reasonably expect from a wrongful or negligent act, such as physical and mental pain, and loss of enjoyment of life after an accident or injury. These damages cannot be proved with any clear specificity, but you may be eligible for them based on the fact that they normally follow from an accident or injury.

Lost wages
These damages represent the amount of money you would have earned, from the time of the injury to the date of settlement or judgment. Even if you are unemployed, you may be able to receive lost wages if you can prove what could have been earned during the same period.

You may also be able to recover lost future wages if you can prove that your ability to earn money in the future has been impaired or diminished by the injuries. Factors that help determine whether an award should be made include your age, health, life expectancy, occupation, talents, skill, experience, and training. Past earnings are a factor in determining the appropriate amount of compensation for lost earning capacity, but the claim really focuses on what might have been earned were it not for the accident or injury.

Permanent disability
These damages are best proved by medical testimony, and ordinarily a doctor must examine you. Some courts have held that permanent disability damages can include not only disabilities that are objectively determined, but also disabilities that you believe you suffer from.

Medical expenses
Bills and expenses for medical services such as doctors, hospital stays, emergency room treatment, ambulance fees, and nursing services. You must show that the expenses are related to medical conditions resulting from your injury. The total amount of medical expenses is sometimes used as a rough guide to decide whether the overall award of damages is reasonable. It is important to note that the cost of a medical examination for purposes of litigation is not ordinarily recoverable as a medical expense.

Future medical expenses are also permitted if you can prove that you will need continued medical care as a result of your injury. Generally, you will be required to use a medical doctor’s testimony to approximate the cost of the medical care.

Pain and suffering
You may be entitled to an award for past and future physical pain in connection with an injury. To place a monetary value on pain and suffering, the jury will consider the nature of the injury, the certainty of future pain, its severity, and how long you are likely to be in pain.