When someone suffers an injury that results from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they deserve to be compensated. This can happen because of a car accident, a slip and fall injury at a retail store, an injury at work, or any number of other events. These injuries could be minor and only last for a short period of time, or they could be moderate to severe, with the effects being felt for an extended period of time.
Compensation from a personal injury is meant to help restore the victim as much as possible to the condition he/she was in before the injury occurred. Of course, this cannot always be accomplished.
Clearly, no amount of money can bring back a loved one who was killed because of someone else’s negligence, and no amount of money can give you back the quality of life you enjoyed before suffering a permanent injury. That said, monetary compensation is the only mechanism our legal system has to make the victim whole in cases of civil wrongdoing.
Types of Compensation that are Available in Personal Injury Cases
The legal term for compensation in a personal injury case is known as “damages”. Compensatory damages can be broken down into two general categories:
Also referred to as “special damages”, economic damages are those that are meant to compensate the victim for direct monetary losses that were incurred because of the injury. These types of damages are unique to each individual case, and they will vary widely from one case to another.
Some common examples of economic damages include:
- Hospitalization costs;
- Costs for surgeries and other procedures;
- Rehabilitation and retraining expenses;
- The cost of ongoing medical care (in the case of a debilitating condition);
- Lost earnings;
- Loss of future earning capacity;
- Property damage.
Also referred to as “general damages”, noneconomic damages are losses that are real but more intangible. These damages address what generally happens to someone who suffers a personal injury.
Examples of noneconomic damages may include:
- Physical pain-and-suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment;
- Permanent injury;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and support.
There is another category of damages that is not technically considered “compensation.” These are known as “punitive damages” or “exemplary damages”.
Although they are awarded to the injury victim, punitive damages are not meant to make the victim whole, but rather to “punish” the party responsible for the injuries when their actions were willful, malicious, fraudulent, or grossly negligent. The purpose for awarding punitive damages is to ensure that those responsible for especially egregious actions are held fully accountable, and that they (and others) are highly discouraged from engaging in this type of behavior in the future.
In most standard personal injury cases, punitive damages are not likely to be awarded. However, if someone engages in exceptionally reckless behavior, such as driving while intoxicated far beyond the legal limit and causing a serious accident, they may be warranted. It should also be noted that in an Alabama wrongful death case, punitive damages are the only type of monetary award that is available to help compensate the victim’s family.
Recovering Compensation from an Alabama Personal Injury
While an injured party may be entitled to damages when their injury was caused by someone else, recovering these damages is not always an easy task. This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine to personal injury cases. Contributory negligence means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, even 1%, they can be barred from recovering any damages at all.
When pursuing a personal injury claim, you are usually dealing with the insurance company for the party responsible. And the larger the claim, the harder they tend to fight it. With cases like these, you can be sure that the other side will look for any reason they can to pin at least some of the blame on you, so they will not have to pay out any compensation. For this reason, it is extremely important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible. Otherwise, your right to recover compensation could be jeopardized.
Suffered a Personal Injury in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Legal Help
If you or someone close to you suffered injury through no fault of your own, you need strong legal counsel by your side fighting hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve. If the injury occurred in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland for assistance. Call our office today at 251 – 432 – 8844 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.