Personal injury cases are legal disputes that occur when a person suffers an injury or damages due to an accident. In these cases, another person or entity is responsible for the accident.
Types of personal injury damages
Below you’ll find the most common types of damages for personal injury cases.
Bodily injuries resulting from personal injury cases can range widely. They may include relatively minor and self-limiting injuries such as lacerations, fractures, soft tissue damage, bruising, and swelling. Or they may involve more long-term, devastating and debilitating injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of cognitive function, loss of a limb, burns, and internal organ damage.
Public data reveals that 144,000 Texans suffer a traumatic brain injury each year, which is one every four minutes. Although the most common causes of physical harm include car accidents, premises liability issues, construction site accidents, and workplace injuries, physical harm can happen to you almost anywhere.
1. Physical Harm
The bodily harm resulting from personal injury can range from relatively minor and usually self-limiting injuries such as lacerations, fractures, soft tissue damage, bruises, and inflammation, to long-term, devastating and debilitating injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, loss of cognitive function, loss of a limb, third and fourth degree burns, and internal organ damage. 144,000 Texans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year—one every four minutes.
Although the most common causes of physical harm are motor vehicle collisions, premises liability issues, construction site accidents, and workplace injuries, physical harm can happen to a person almost anywhere. Working under the wide umbrella of personal injury, in addition to those listed above, attorneys in Texas within this practice areas typically handle such cases as:
- Animal bite injuries
- Oil rig accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- 18 Wheeler accidents
- Boating accidents
- Defective products
- Insurance/bad faith claims
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Birth injuries
The ultimate cost of an accident caused by another person is the loss of life. Personal injury litigation in Texas is complex and often multi-faceted, but the law is easy to follow when it comes to the Texas Wrongful Death Act. Under most circumstances, only the surviving spouse, children, or parents may recover compensation.” Although there is nothing any member of the legal profession can do to restore a surviving families’ life to its original luster, giving their collective voice more volume, via litigation, can often bring a measure of closure and justice.
2. Psychological Harm
Mental anguish and psychological harm are very real, serious consequences of a personal injury. Physical harm is objective, but emotional harm is most definitely subjective. Victims may experience panic attacks, anxiety, and mood swings. Pain and fear are a powerful combination. Following an unexpected accident, victims may develop alcohol or drug dependence, and exhibit suicidal ideations. The trauma of an accident can render a victim:
- Reliving the event in flashbacks and nightmares
- Experiencing acute anxiety
- With obvious changes in personality
- Suffering from sleep disturbances
- Hesitant to get back behind the wheel of a car
- Angry and hostile
- Severely depressed
- Unable to enjoy life as he or she knew it
3. Social Harm
When an injury leaves a victim with a disfigurement or disability, self-imposed social isolation can have lasting consequences. Embarrassment about disfigurement and constant pain can prevent victims from participating in the social situations that were once a part of daily life. Problems with concentration or memory can make interaction with colleagues problematic, and impaired cognition may limit a person’s ability to pursue educational or career objectives. The inability to live independently, like to address personal hygiene needs, can lead to anger, anxiety, and depression. Changes in the family dynamic are inevitable when an accident victim is unable to return to his or her chosen profession, and the other spouse or partner must assume additional responsibilities. When a husband’s relationship with his wife changes, or when children’s relationships with their parents are thrown off-kilter, life can spiral out of control.
4. Economic Harm
Medical management alone can cost a victim and his or her family hundreds of thousands of dollars. Physicians and hospital bills notwithstanding, following a catastrophic injury, special adaptive equipment and modifications to the family home are often required. Physical and occupational therapy can last indefinitely, and the cost of medications can often be more than the typical family budget can handle.
Lost wages, even temporarily, can send families into a tailspin. Consider the costs associated with victims of a brain injury:
- The annual cost of traumatic brain injury in the United States is estimated to be $48.3 billion
- The lifetime cost, per person, can be almost $4 million
The National Institute Of Neurological Disorders reports eye-opening data as well:
- There are an estimated 12,000 spinal cord injuries annually
- The annual cost of managing the care of spinal cord injury is $3 billion
Families dealing with the fallout from catastrophic personal injury have to take into consideration some of the long term costs of recovery, such as:
- Diagnostic testing
- Educational assessments and job training
- Mobility devices and maintenance
- Home care
- Prosthetic requirements
- Transportation requirements
- Adaptive equipment
- Architectural renovations
- Aids for independent function
- Leisure or recreational equipment
Types of personal injury compensation
If you’ve suffered an injury, property damage or any other type of loss, you may seek compensation as a plaintiff from whoever caused or contributed to these losses. The legal term for this type of compensation is “damages.”
The two basic categories of damages available in personal injury claims are compensatory and punitive. They are granted to the injured party or plaintiff.
- Compensatory damages seek to reimburse or compensate the injured party for the harm he/she has suffered. These types of damages are available in almost all injury cases.
- Punitive damages are only available in a select number of cases. These types of damages are granted to punish the wrongdoer for certain types of despicable behavior.
1. Compensatory damages
Compensatory damages are intended to compensate for an injury suffered by an individual. Typically they reimburse a person for out-of-pocket expenses. These include monetary compensation for medical expenses, property damage and lost income. General damages may also be granted for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium and lost opportunity to enjoy life in the future.
2. Punitive damages
In Texas, punitive damages are only granted if the plaintiff can prove that his/her cause of action was due to fraud, malice or gross negligence on the part of the defendant. State law has specific definitions for each of these terms:
- Fraud: Making false and harmful statements to a plaintiff with the intent to defraud or injure him/her.
- Malice: A defendant’s specific intent to cause the plaintiff substantial bodily injury or harm.
- Gross negligence: An act or oversight involving an extreme degree of risk that the defendant knew about, but proceeded with anyway.
- Damages due to wrongful death: A wrongful death lawsuit compensates surviving family members and loved ones for damages. Learn all about wrongful death compensation in San Antonio.
No matter where or how an accident occurs, it’s essential to know who caused it so that the injured person can be compensated for damages. If you have any questions about the scope of Texas personal injury law and how it relates to your specific situation, get in touch. You deserve an experienced personal injury attorney who you can trust to help you navigate the complex legal system.
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