What Are Damages?
Damages are the recovery that the injured party seeks in order to make the injured party whole. This is a metaphorical “whole” standard in most personal injury cases because in many instances it would be impossible to restore the victim to as they were prior to their injuries. Costs and expenses associated with an injury can be reimbursed, but an injured party who loses a limb, for example, will never get use of their limb back. The most that can be done for injury victims is to compensate them as best as possible for the unique injuries that they have suffered.
How Damages are Determined
A damages determination in a personal injury case involves many different variables, and the ultimate recovery amount depends highly on the facts of the case. Every personal injury case is unique, and thus the damage calculations for each personal injury case will be different. As a general rule, however, injured parties are entitled to recover damages for:
- Medical expenses that have been incurred by the victim;
- Future medical expenses that will be incurred by the victim to treat the long-term effects of the injuries;
- Lost wages associated with the time off they had to take in order to see doctors and recover from their injuries;
- Damages for disfigurement, scarring, and permanent physical disabilities;
- Damages for any pain and suffering that the injured party went through; and/or
- Damages for emotional suffering associated with the injuries.
Some of the above factors above are easy to calculate. Such damages are often referred to as special damages in the context of tort law, and generally reimburse the victim for various costs, such as incurred medical expenses and lost wages. However, some of the above factors that contribute to a recovery amount are very hard to put a dollar amount on, which can lead to disputes between the injured party and the liable party. These more difficult to determine damages are referred to as general damages in tort law, and are subjective. General damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disfigurement, and mental anguish.
How much in damages an injured party can obtain depends on other subjective factors as well. For instance, the amount of recovery may depend on:
- The level of skill that the injured party’s personal injury lawyer has;
- How gruesome the injuries are and whether the injured party will have to display how gruesome the injuries are to the public (i.e., disfigurement of the face or head will typically be displayed to everyone the injured party meets, whereas a mangled lower leg could be hidden from view by clothing);
- How the jury feels about the types of injuries suffered by the victim;
- How embarrassed or distressed the injured party is about their specific injuries; and/or
- How painful the type of injury suffered is for the victim.
Statutory Caps on Injury Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases In Texas
In Texas, there are statutorily provided maximum caps on how much in damages a medical malpractice victim can recover. This means that an injury victim can only recover a certain amount no matter how severe their injuries might be. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of medical malpractice injuries, you should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to get a better understanding of what the medical malpractice statutory damages caps can mean to your case.