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How Are Damages Determined in a Personal Injury Case?

Personal Injury

Damages in personal injury cases come in two varieties -- compensatory and punitive. With the counsel of your personal injury attorney, you should be able to get a bead on what monetary damages should be appropriate given the lost earnings, disfigurement, economic damages, or garnished wages you've suffered as a result of your injury.

However, be aware that your personal injury attorney may ask for more money than seems reasonable upfront for the purpose of potentially plea bargaining that amount down to a reasonable settlement or otherwise leveraging the defendant's fear to come up with a higher dollar amount for you.

Your personal injury attorney can explain the nuances between punitive and compensatory damages further. Here is a brief primer. Compensatory damages comprise everything from embarrassment to property destroyed in an accident to medical bills resulting from the injury. Punitive damages are put forward by the court to punish the defendant for negligence or carelessness. In cases involving malicious intent or wanton and reckless flouting of the law, punitive damages may outweigh even hefty compensatory damage packages.

Of course, even if your personal injury attorney gets you a high settlement, it may take a while before you see actually money in your bank. Your personal injury attorney may have to battle again for your rights in appellate court, and even if your motions survive appellate challenges, you likely won't get all the money at once.

In cases involving corporations or lawsuits revolving around multiple plaintiffs and defendants, it may be years before you see damages, and you may receive them not in a lump sum but in what's known as a structured settlement -- an arrangement which pays out cash to you according to a yearly basis.

You may be awarded damages even if you are partially negligent for the accident. For instance, if you've been injured in a motor vehicle wreck and both you and the other driver are partially responsible for the incident, you still may be entitled to a percentage of overall damages -- at the same time, however, you (or your insurance company) may have to pay out damages to the other driver.

A personal injury attorney conversant with the laws of your state and with the legal precedents associated with your type of personal injury should be able to give you a ballpark figure of what to expect in the way of damages and when to expect said moneys.

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