How to Calculate Your Potential Damages for a Phoenix Accident Claim
If you have been injured in an accident due to the fault of another, you may be entitled to sue and recover damages under Arizona law. Plaintiffs often forego pursuing litigation, primarily because they are uncertain about whether it is worthwhile to go through the effort for a small recovery.
Until you consult a qualified Phoenix accident attorney about the case, you will not have an accurate appraisal of the damages. We therefore encourage you to contact Hirsch & Lyon for a case evaluation so you can learn more.
For now, let’s explore some of damages typical of a personal injury dispute.
Identifying Losses and Gathering Evidence
In the context of personal injury, your losses are likely to vary significantly on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you suffer injuries in a car accident that are not “catastrophic” and you are able to return to your career after a few months without any significant impairments in your ability to perform your job responsibilities, then you may have a significant damages claim for wage loss accounting for those few months of being unable to work, but not for the loss of earning capacity, as your earning capacity was not, in fact, diminished.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident and subsequent injuries, your losses may include the following:
In the wake of an accident, injured plaintiffs may recover for all their health-related expenses, including doctor visits, prescription drugs, diagnostic exams, counselor appointments, chiropractic exams, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and alternative medical treatment. The defendant may attempt to argue that some of the treatment is not “reasonably necessary” under the circumstances. You can counter this argument with supportive testimony from your treating physicians and other medical experts.
Our skilled Phoenix accident attorneys know that injured plaintiffs are entitled to recover damages for their lost wages/income. This includes all missed work time due to their accident, missed job opportunities, missed interviews, missed client meetings, and all other lost income (i.e., lost sales for a commission-based earner).
Loss of Earning Capacity
If you are injured severely enough that your future earning capacity is limited in a significant manner (i.e., you are blinded, and are therefore unable to continue working in as a lab technician), then you are entitled to damages for the lost earning capacity associated with that impairment. You will have to compare your new earning capacity with what you would have earned in the future — this will require a lifetime analysis of future earnings. Loss of earning capacity is more difficult to prove than lost wages, but you can effectively do so by introducing supportive vocational expert testimony.
As a personal injury plaintiff, you are entitled to recover for any damaged property and incidental expenses associated with the accident, including the cost of repairs or replacement (for your vehicle), rental car expenses, travel expenses, household assistance, and childcare expenses. For example, if your car is totaled in an accident, then you may need to pay for a rental car. That rental car is an incidental expense that could be claimed in the ensuing litigation. Speak to a Phoenix accident attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages comprehensively accounts for the suffering that a plaintiff experiences in the wake of an accident. For example, if you fracture your pelvis in a car accident, then you can recover for the subjective pain that you experienced due to that injury. Intense pain leads to greater damages.
Emotional distress can best be described as the psychological pain sustained in relation to one’s injuries. For example, if you have received burn injuries on your face and hands, then you may experience significant emotional distress due to the social stigma associated with your aesthetic losses.
Proving emotional distress damages will require extensive psychological diagnostic records and expert testimony supporting the fact that you have not only experienced such distress, but that it is as severe as you are claiming it to be.
You’ll have to do more than merely assert damages in order to successfully recover. In personal injury litigation, documentary evidence (i.e., medical records, work payment records, contracts, etc.) and testimonial evidence (i.e., expert testimony regarding your pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, etc.) are both extraordinarily valuable in supporting your claim for damages. If you are claiming medical expenses, for example, you will have to introduce evidence of the treatment that you have received and how much the procedure costs.
Are Punitive Damages Available? Our Phoenix Accident Attorneys Will Review the Case and Advise
An award of punitive damages can significantly boost your damages, as they act as a multiplying factor on the compensatory damages total — for example, if you recover $100,000 in compensatory damages (i.e., medical expenses, pain and suffering, wage loss, etc.), then the court may award you punitive damages of up to seven times that amount, for a total of $800,000.
Unfortunately, punitive damages are not often available. The plaintiff may only qualify for punitive damages if they can prove that the defendant acted willfully, maliciously, and/or with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Further, even if the plaintiff “qualifies” for punitive damages, the court may exercise its discretion in awarding them. Our Phoenix accident attorney can further explain this during the initial consultation.
The fundamental reasoning behind an award of punitive damages is quite different than what many plaintiffs initially expect. Simply put, punitive damages are not intended to compensate you for your various losses but are meant, instead, to punish and otherwise discourage the defendant (and other similarly situated parties in society) from engaging in the sort of willful and malicious behavior that the case is centered around.
If you could potentially access punitive damages, your recovery could be striking. Many multimillion-dollar personal injury lawsuits are actually reliant on punitive damages to reach those significant dollar amounts.
How “Certainty of Success” Impacts Damage Recovery
Most disputes are resolved through settlement. Each party compromises, agreeing to an amount that is less than the maximum claimed damages in an effort to avoid the cost and uncertainty of trial litigation. As such, understanding what you are likely to recover through settlement is fundamental to understanding the true damages potential of your claims.
In a settlement, the amount that the defendant will agree to offer depends largely on whether your claims are likely to succeed (should the case proceed to trial) and whether the claimed damages are likely to be awarded by the jury.
For example, if the defendant concedes that they are at fault and caused your injuries, then you have a 100 percent chance of “winning” the case at trial. Suppose, however, that the evidence for your claimed $200,000 damages is rather scant, and in fact, there is a 50 percent that the jury will award you $100,000 in damages instead. Given these risks, a reasonable settlement amount might hover around $150,000.
Contact Hirsch & Lyon to Setup a Free and Confidential Consultation With a Phoenix Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another party, then Arizona law may give you a right of action for damages. The pursuit of litigation may seem intimidating, but it’s important to understand that the damages you’re owed may be recoverable with the aid of a skilled legal advocate.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our team of attorneys has decades of experience working on behalf of those who have been injured in various personal injury scenarios — primarily motor vehicle accidents (car, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian). This focus affords us substantial insight into the unique issues likely to be encountered over the course of litigation in such disputes and helps us to maximize our client’s damages.
Ready to speak to one of our experienced Phoenix accident attorneys about your claims? Send us a message online to arrange for an initial consultation today. Consultation is free and confidential.