If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you might incur medical expenses and lose money by not being able to work. However, you might also endure considerable pain and suffering and be affected in other ways.
Washington personal injury law provides a pathway to recovering compensation for these non-economic damages.
Damages are a necessary element that you must prove in a personal injury case to show you have a right to be compensated for your accident-related losses. The plaintiff has the burden of proving all of the following elements:
The first legal element you must establish in a personal injury case is duty. To recover compensation, you must show the defendant owed you some legal duty.
For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you would need to show that the other motorist had a legal duty to obey traffic laws and drive safely to prevent causing an accident.
The second legal element you must be able to prove is breach of duty. This is how the defendant violated the duty of care they owed you, such as texting while driving, speeding, or running a red light.
The third legal element you must be able to show is that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the accident. If the defendant was distracted by texting and driving, they may not have noticed you had stopped in front of them and may have rear-ended you.
Damages are the final element you must prove in your personal injury case. You must prove all of the other elements first to establish your right to receive compensation for the damages you suffered. Damages make up for all of the losses you suffered because of the accident.
In a Washington personal injury case, you may be able to recover the following types of damages:
Economic damages are monetary losses for accident victims, such as:
These damages are objectively verifiable with documents such as receipts or invoices.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that cannot easily be quantified, such as:
Because these damages are more difficult to quantify, it is important you work with an experienced lawyer who can help establish them and their value.
While economic and non-economic damages are meant to compensate the victim, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and prevent similar misconduct in the future. These damages are reserved for particularly egregious cases.
Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional pain and suffering a victim suffers because of an accident and the resulting injuries. You may receive compensation if your injuries cause you to endure pain and suffering.
An injury can prevent an accident victim from being able to enjoy the life they could before the accident. This includes participating in sports, engaging in hobbies, and interacting socially with others. This type of non-economic damages recognizes such losses and compensates the victim for them.
Accident injuries can cause disabilities that affect a victim in ways other than their earning potential. Accident victims may be unable to drive, take care of themselves, care for their children, or complete other activities of daily living. Insurance companies or courts can award compensation to accident victims for such losses.
Loss of consortium is a separate right of action in Washington that belongs to the victim’s spouse or registered domestic partner that compensates them for the loss of intimacy, sexual relations, and affection. This compensation can be awarded in wrongful death cases, as well as those involving disabilities.
Determining their value is one of the most difficult aspects of non-economic damages claims.
Washington jury instructions tell jurors to consider various factors when determining non-economic damages:
Because these damages are inherently subjective, it is important to work with a lawyer who can help quantify them and convince juries and insurance companies to award reasonable compensation for them.
The potential value of your case can be affected by various factors, such as:
Every case is different and can result in various values.
Understanding non-economic damages is crucial to recovering the full value of your claim. You can learn more about the potential value of non-economic damages when you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer from Davis Law Group, P.S., for a free case review.
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