Pain, lost wages and enjoyment of life are common consequences of getting injured. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be displaced temporarily, or your life may permanently change. It is in the most severe instances that people want to see that the person who caused the injury gets punished. However, in personal injury, punishment is limited to monetary damages, and even then, the award may not be defined by state laws. It helps to have an idea of how costs are calculated and if more can be done to get back some of what you lost at the hands of another.
Required Elements of Personal Injury Cases
The foundation of every personal injury claim is proving the guilty party was negligent and that this caused the incident that caused the injury. The court must first find the defendant’s behavior directly or indirectly set the events of the accident in motion. What is negligence? In tort law, negligence is a decision, action or inaction that disregards common standards or rules and results in another getting hurt. It can come in the form of breaking a traffic law, ignoring water on the floor of your business or misreading a medical chart.
Proving the Defendant Was Negligent
As a plaintiff in a personal injury case, it is not enough to allege an act of negligence occurred, you must also prove it with evidence. In traffic accidents, a police report and bystander statements may be enough to meet this threshold. In other cases, such as a slip and fall, proving the business owner ignored the water on the floor may be more difficult. The more evidence your legal team can gather, the stronger your case. Judges will not allow your case to proceed if this primary prong is not met.
Punishment for Negligence
Personal injury litigation is civil, not criminal. Therefore, the penalty is limited to financial awards known as damages. There are three common types of damages awarded in a lawsuit: general, compensatory and punitive. General damages are not specific and reimburse a plaintiff for pain, suffering and emotional turmoil caused by the injury. Compensatory damages include all of the plaintiff’s financial losses due to the injury, such as medical bills and income. Punitive damages, however, is where a defendant may suffer the most. This is an award far and above any amount requested by the plaintiff. Punitive damages are usually reserved for the most severe instances of negligence and resulting injuries.
Wanting the person who caused your injury to be held accountable is normal. Without consequences, what will stop them from repeating the negligent behavior? A personal injury lawyer can be a helpful ally in your quest to seek justice after a life-changing incident.