The issues people deal with after an automobile accident – medical expenses, lost wages, physical injury and psychological trauma – may require attention long after the incident.
Courts answer the more long-term legal and moral question “How can you put a price on someone’s loss?” in one word: “damages.”
Types of damages and when they apply
In personal injury cases, courts calculate damages in order to compensate those who have suffered injury because of a wrong committed by another. The law sorts damages into several types.
Compensatory damages are intended to return the injured person to the position before the harm occurred. Special damages achieve this by assessing damages that have a fixed monetary value, such as medical bills, lost wages and future earning capacity. General (non-economic) damages, often termed “pain and suffering,” includes distress, depression and other conditions resulting from the injuries sustained.
In certain circumstances, courts may also calculate punitive damages, which are meant to punish a defendant for wrongful behavior.
State-imposed limitations on damages
North Carolina has enacted limits that restrict a party’s ability to recover damages. Most significantly, laws prohibit injured parties from recovery if they have contributed even slightly to their injury. Second, the state has established legal limits, or caps, on the awards injured parties can receive. In all cases, a duty to mitigate or minimize damages rests with injured parties. They must act reasonably to reduce the effects of their losses. For example, they must seek a less-physically demanding job.
An attorney with a solid foundation relating to damages can inform you about your options.