When you are injured because of another person’s negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions, you may be owed compensation for the harm you suffered. Any money you receive from a car accident, truck accident, premises liability, or other type of personal injury claim is intended to compensate you for your damages.
There are three main types of damages for which you may receive compensation in a personal injury case: economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded in rare cases, so most injury victims only ever need to worry about economic and noneconomic damages.
To correctly value the worth of your claim, you must be familiar with the difference between economic and noneconomic damages.
What Are Damages?
A civil lawsuit is filed by the plaintiff (the individual who suffered harm) and the defendant (the individual(s) or entity that caused the harm). When a plaintiff wins their case, they are awarded monetary damages that must be paid by the defendant. These are known as civil damages.
What Types of Accidents Result in Damages?
Any situation in which one person’s injuries were caused by the negligent, wrongful, or reckless actions of another person or entity may result in a judgment for civil damages. While many people most commonly associate car accidents with this type of compensation, damages may also be awarded in the case of:
- Commercial vehicle or truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical errors
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse
- Train accidents
- Dog attacks
If you were involved in an accident in Charleston, WV that resulted in your injuries, you may be owed compensation for damages. If you’re unsure of your legal rights, contact DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, so that we can go over the details of your case with you.
What Is the Difference Between Economic and Noneconomic Damages in West Virginia?
West Virginia differentiates between the types of damages suffered in an accident. Most civil cases involve economic and noneconomic damages. While both types of damages seek to compensate a victim for the ways in which they were harmed, only one deals with monetary losses.
Compensation for monetary losses associated with your accident and injuries are referred to as economic losses. These must be verifiable financial losses that you have suffered as a result of your accident. Although no two cases are alike, a typical personal injury lawsuit might include some of the following economic damages:
- Loss of income
- Loss of future income due to reduced earning capacity
- Current and future medical expenses
- Mobility aids, including wheelchairs and crutches
- Vehicle or property repairs
- The cost of replacing property
- Home renovations to accommodate a new disability
- In-home services, including cleaning services
If another person caused your financial losses, you deserve to be fairly compensated.
Noneconomic damages seek to compensate accident and injury victims for non-monetary losses. While these types of damages might not have a price tag attached to them, they still impact victims’ lives in meaningful, lasting ways:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, society, and consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Cap on Noneconomic Damages
West Virginia state law places a cap on noneconomic damages. In a typical personal injury case, noneconomic damages are capped at $250,000. Cases involving catastrophic damages have a higher cap of $500,000. Catastrophic injuries are exceptionally serious and have life-altering consequences for victims.
Catastrophic injuries that may necessitate a higher cap on noneconomic damages include:
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Extensive burns
- Any injury affecting mobility or cognitive ability
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are designed to punish the at-fault party for particularly egregious behavior. The financial burden of additional damages is intended to act as a deterrent to engaging in the same behavior in the future. For example, punitive damages might be awarded in a car accident case involving a drunk driver. However, punitive damages would likely not be called for in an accident case involving a driver who simply failed to notice a stop sign.
Who Calculates How Much Compensation You Are Owed?
Never allow the insurance company to tell you how much compensation you are owed for your injuries. These are large businesses that are not concerned with your health or well-being, even if the insurance adjuster you speak with seems to be on your side.
The insurance company will push you to settle too fast for too little, leaving you without the compensation you need to fully recover or cover your financial losses.
If you were involved in an accident or suffered injuries in West Virginia, do not allow the at-fault party’s insurer to push or bully you into accepting anything less than the full amount you are owed. Working closely with an experienced personal injury attorney is often one of the most effective ways to push back against the insurance company’s tricks and tactics to lower settlement offers.
A personal injury lawyer can also help you correctly value the full worth of your claim. From calculating your financial losses to thoroughly documenting the extent of your noneconomic damages, a knowledgeable attorney will be prepared to prove how you have suffered since your accident.
Are You Owed Compensation for Your Damages?
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we have over 150 years of combined experience advocating for accident victims in West Virginia. Our experience handling complex personal injury claims makes us uniquely positioned to take on your case.
We understand that it can be overwhelming to find the right lawyer to work with, which is why we offer free consultations to West Virginia injury victims. During your consultation, you’ll be able to speak directly with one of our personal injury attorneys. Meeting with an attorney does not create a legal obligation to continue working with our law firm, and there is never any pressure to partner with us unless you feel that we are the best fit for your case.
Contact our Charleston office today to schedule your complimentary case evaluation.