Anytime an individual sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity in West Virginia, they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. Unfortunately, securing compensation through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit can be challenging. Here, we want to discuss what specific damages you may be able to recover in these situations. We will break these into compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Special Damages Through a Personal Injury Claim
Special damages are also referred to as economic damages, and these are considered compensatory. Special damages refer to the types of losses that are relatively calculable after a personal injury occurs in West Virginia. We say that these losses are calculable because we can add up the bills and receipts that an individual receives after the injury occurs. Some of the most common economic damages available to West Virginia personal injury victims include the following:
- Compensation for emergency medical expenses
- Coverage of long term hospital care
- Compensation for physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Prescription medication and medical device costs
- Lost wages if an injury victim cannot work
- Property damage expenses
- Various household out-of-pocket expenses
General Damages Through a Personal Injury Claim
General damages are also referred to as non-economic damages, and these are also considered compensatory as well. General damages refer to more immeasurable types of losses an individual sustains as a result of a personal injury in West Virginia. We see that these are immeasurable because it is more challenging to adequately show these specific losses because there are no bills or receipts that we can simply add up. However, that does not make these losses any less real. Some of the main general damages that we help clients recover compensation for include the following:
- Physical pain and suffering following an injury
- Emotional and psychological distress caused by the injury or the recovery process
- Loss of consortium for a spouse or family members
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
Calculating general damages after a West Virginia personal injury claim can be done using a few methods. This often includes using a “multiplier method” where a lawyer will add up all the economic damages mentioned above and multiply this by a set number. For example, if an individual sustains $10,000 worth of medical bills after a slip and fall injury, an attorney may use a multiplier of “two” to reach a non-economic total of $20,000. Overall, the attorney would ask for $30,000 on behalf of their client.
Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
In rare cases, punitive damages are awarded for a personal injury claim in West Virginia. Under West Virginia Code Section 55-7-29, we see that punitive damages can only be awarded if it can be established that the defendant acted in one of two ways:
- With actual malice towards the plaintiff and caused them harm
- With a conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to the health and welfare of others and caused harm
In West Virginia, punitive damages cannot exceed either four times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever figure is greater.
Work With an Attorney
If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity in West Virginia, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled personal injury lawyer in Charleston can fully investigate every aspect of your claim and help you recover maximum compensation for your losses.