No one sets out each day prepared for devastating accidents or the life-altering injuries that can come with them.


Most folks are under the impression that a moderately priced insurance plan can cover the cost of an accident.

Civil litigation provides a chance to the injured party (plaintiff) to seek compensation from a responsible or negligent party (defendant), especially in circumstances where there is little or no insurance coverage.

Types of damages

There are steps a plaintiff can take to ensure that they can receive the highest amount of just compensation available to them. Part of knowing what you’re entitled to lies in being familiar with two different types of damages, and which apply to your case. Generally, those types are economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages

  • Medical Treatment
    Fortunately, most medical costs incurred in receiving treatment are included in recoverable compensation. Applicable medical costs include, but aren’t limited to: ambulance transportation to a hospital, cost of paramedic services, emergency room services and medications, hospital fees, the use of medical devices, physical rehabilitation and therapy, and costs of surgery, among others.
  • Loss of Income
    Your case may also qualify you to receive compensation due to the loss of wages because of an injury. This can not only include your regular wages, but also overtime, bonuses, and any lessened earning potential that your injury prevents you from attaining.
  • Property Damage/Loss
    You may also be entitled to compensation for any property that was damaged or lost in an accident. For example, personal items in the trunk of a car that was in an accident may qualify for reimbursement.

Non-economic damages

  • Pain and Suffering
    Aside from the calculable damages that can occur in an accident, there are additional levels of emotional and psychological hardship a plaintiff may endure. For instance, in an auto accident where the plaintiff incurred several broken bones and a concussion, the actual physical pain and suffering involved with recovering from such serious injuries are part of damages flowing from the incident. In the aftermath of the accident, a plaintiff may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other significant, life-altering ailments.
  • Emotional Distress
    Many believe that the process of healing from an accident concludes when the wounds have been dressed, bones have healed, and the pain has subsided. But studies have shown that the psychological damages that survivors can develop after an accident can be just as, if not more, traumatic than the physical injuries.

How Your Actions (Or Lack Thereof) Can Affect Your Compensation

When your injury prevents you from taking pleasure in “everyday” activities such as exercise or hobbies, or any familial acts you are no longer able to participate in alongside your spouse and/or children, these also constitute important elements of your damages.

Calculating the intangible: Pain and suffering

Currently, there are no specific parameters required of juries when determining how much a plaintiff is entitled to for pain and suffering damages. More often than not, juries are encouraged to use common sense when deciding such challenging matters, with other guidance by way of jury instructions.

There are steps a plaintiff can take to ensure that they can receive the highest amount of just compensation available to them.

How your actions (or lack thereof) can affect your compensation

While it may seem as though an injured party is entitled to reimbursement or compensation, there are several factors that can prevent a person from receiving everything they could be entitled to.

For example, after an auto accident, if it is determined that the driver was operating without insurance, or under the influence of controlled substances like drugs or alcohol, they most likely will find it difficult to receive compensation, even having suffered serious injuries.

Additionally, if the case makes it to a trial-by-jury, a plaintiff’s courtroom behavior can impact a jury’s decision. If a plaintiff is honest, likable, presents consistent testimony regarding their injuries, and provides evidence supported their physician, juries are more likely to decide in their favor.

How much time is too much time?

All things considered, the most common mistake a plaintiff can make in seeking compensation after an accident, is taking too much time to file their suit. This timeframe, known as the “statute of limitations”, can vary depending on the type of case in question.

The statute of limitations can also be contingent upon which state the accident occurred in, and can even change based on the type of accident in question, or the injuries that were suffered. If too much time has passed for the plaintiff to file a claim for their damages and the injuries they’ve suffered, the plaintiff may be out of options.

Preparation is key

Again, no one leaves the house in the morning ready to face a traumatic accident. Nevertheless, there are certain precautions we can take. Seeking immediate medical care and legal advice, taking written notes of the details as soon as possible, and keeping any necessary documentation organized will help to ensure that your injury case can yield a damages recovery commensurate with the seriousness of injuries suffered.


James Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.



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