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What are Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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What are Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

  • Economic damages are the financial losses an accident victim suffers due to another’s negligence.
  • Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and others.
  • Victims need hard proof of their damages to obtain compensation.
  • A skilled personal injury attorney will deeply understand Florida laws regarding economic damages.

What are economic damages? The answer is simple. They’re the economic losses awarded to a plaintiff who has suffered harm due to the actions of another party. However, obtaining compensation for your damages can be complex. 

That’s why you need to get in touch with a skilled Jones Law Group attorney. We’ll handle all the complexities so you can focus on your health. When you turn to us, our firm will do everything possible to help you get the money you deserve.

Please schedule a free consultation by calling 727-571-1333 or contacting us online.

Definition of Economic Damages

Economic damages are a critical component of personal injury law. They’re the quantifiable financial losses that a plaintiff directly experiences due to an injury caused by another party. 

Unlike their counterpart, non-economic damages, which cover subjective elements like pain and suffering, economic damages are concrete. They provide a tangible representation of the financial impact of an injury on the affected individual’s life.

Economic damages, also known as “special” or “compensatory” damages, are measurable and verifiable economic losses. Plaintiffs seek damages to restore them to their financial position before the injury occurred.

While non-economic or intangible damages include emotional trauma, economic damages offer a quantifiable measure of the financial hardships directly resulting from the injury.

Types of Economic Damages in Florida Personal Injury Cases

When answering the question, “What are economic damages?” it’s essential to spell out some of the more common examples. Here are just a few.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are the primary form of economic damages. They include the immediate costs associated with emergency medical treatment and ongoing expenses related to recovery and rehabilitation. This category includes hospital bills, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and other necessary medical interventions.

Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity

Lost wages account for the income directly lost during the period of injury. Loss of earning capacity recognizes the potential long-term impact on the victim’s ability to work and make the same money they did before the accident.

Property Damage

Property damage can be a significant component of economic damages in cases like car accidents. It includes the cost of repairing or replacing damaged personal belongings or assets, such as a vehicle.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Various out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury contribute to economic damages. This category includes rehabilitation expenses, necessary home modifications to accommodate the injury, transportation costs for medical appointments, and any other expenditures incurred due to the injury.

Again, it’s essential to distinguish economic damages from non-economic damages. The former addresses concrete financial losses, while the latter deals with intangible losses such as diminished quality of life.

Calculating Economic Damages in Florida

Calculating economic damages demands a comprehensive approach. It relies heavily on thorough documentation, from medical bills and pay stubs to other relevant financial records. Here’s a brief look at some of the documentation that could impact your case:

  • Medical bills and records: Accurate records substantiate immediate and ongoing medical expenses, providing a clear picture of the financial burden associated with the injury.
  • Pay stubs and financial records: Documentation of lost wages and the impact on earning capacity is crucial in demonstrating the economic fallout resulting from the accident.
  • Other relevant documents: Additional documents offer a comprehensive overview of the financial losses incurred, including property damage estimates, out-of-pocket expense receipts, and other relevant financial records.

In addition to documentation, evidence is critical to proving economic damages. You must hire an attorney immediately so they can investigate the accident. The investigation needs to begin quickly before key evidence disappears.

Florida Laws Affecting Economic Damages

The State of Florida allows injury victims to pursue economic damages from those responsible. For example, Fla. Stat. § 768.0427 addresses the types of evidence admissible to prove medical expenses (past and future) in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.  

Specific personal injury cases have served as the basis for the distribution of damages in Florida. In 1886, Louisville and Nashville Railroad Co. v. Yniestra established the principle of contributory negligence. This is a crucial component of cases where two or more parties play a role in causing an accident.

A car wreck is the most common example of contributory negligence. If an investigation shows an injury victim was partially responsible for the wreck, the court will reduce the victim’s damages based on their percentage of responsibility.

Suppose the victim’s damages are $100,000, and the court finds they were 30% to blame. The court would award the victim $70,000 after subtracting the 30% ($30,000). Victims can’t obtain compensation if they’re more than 50% responsible.

In most instances, Florida law doesn’t place any caps on economic damages. As long as a plaintiff can prove their losses, the defendant must pay the total amount, regardless of how high it may be. 

The only exception involves punitive damages. Juries sometimes (though rarely) award punitive damages in cases where the defendant’s behavior was egregious. The purpose is to punish the defendant and dissuade others from exhibiting the same behavior. Florida caps punitive damages at $500,000 or three times the plaintiff’s damages, whichever number is larger.

If you believe you deserve compensation for another’s negligence, your only realistic chance of getting it will be to hire a personal injury attorney. Lawyers have the nuanced understanding of the law needed to help victims achieve justice.

Legal professionals play an indispensable role in guiding plaintiffs through the complexities of the legal landscape. Not only do they thoroughly examine economic damages, but they also know how to value them accurately. They also know how to get the proof needed to show that a victim is entitled to every dollar they demand.

Contact Jones Law Group to Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Hopefully, you now know the answer to the question, “What are economic damages?” The experienced personal injury attorneys at Jones Law Group are ready to provide the guidance and representation needed to navigate the legal terrain and secure the compensation you deserve. Call 727-571-1333 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much compensation will I receive for my damages?

The amount of compensation varies based on factors such as the extent of your economic damages, the circumstances of the injury, and applicable laws. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is crucial for a realistic assessment of your case.

Should I take a settlement offer?

Deciding whether to accept a settlement offer requires careful consideration of whether or not the offer will cover your economic damages. You must seek legal advice before making your decision. It’s the only way to know whether you’re receiving fair compensation.

What are non-economic damages?

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, and other subjective losses. They’re challenging to quantify.

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio