When you think of your losses after suffering an injury in an accident, you probably think of economic losses. These losses include everything you paid for or became legally responsible for paying due to your accident — like medical bills, replacing your car, etc. These losses also include the income you should have earned from your job but could not earn due to your injuries.
The compensation you receive in the form of economic damages is intended to put you back into the same financial position you were in before the accident. However, you must show that your accident caused those economic losses and that the amounts were reasonable and necessary.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages is a type of compensation you can recover in a personal injury claim. These damages cover the financial losses you suffered due to your accident. This can include your property losses and associated costs, such as repairing or replacing your car. It also includes the cost of renting a vehicle until you get a car.
But most of your economic losses come from your injuries and the cost of treating them. This includes any past and future medical bills. If you already paid them, your compensation reimburses you for your payments. If you did not pay them, your compensation allows you to pay them and avoid any legal problems from non-payment.
Economic losses can also include lost financial opportunities. If your injuries disabled you from working, your compensation should cover the income you would have earned.
Examples of Economic Damages
Some common examples of losses that economic damages can compensate you for include:
You can pursue an award of economic damages to compensate yourself for reasonable and necessary medical costs. These costs may cover:
- Ambulance fees
- Emergency room costs
- Doctor’s visits
- In-patient procedures
- Physical therapy
- Mental health counseling
Your compensation can cover the cost of both past and future medical treatment. For example, if you suffered a herniated disc in a car accident, your doctor might recommend an eventual discectomy and spinal fusion surgery as your disc deteriorates. In this case, your claim could cover this inevitable procedure.
In order to seek complete treatment, you may need to incur additional expenses, which you might need to pay out of pocket.
Some common out-of-pocket expenses you can pursue compensation for include:
- Travel expenses for medical care, including tickets, fuel, accommodations, and food
- Parking fees
- Rideshare or taxi fares
- Wheelchair ramps and grab bars
- Walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and crutches
- Home hospital beds
However, your out-of-pocket expenses must be reasonable and necessary. Reasonable, meaning you did not overpay, and necessary, meaning you had no substitute that would meet your doctor’s prescribed course of treatment.
Lost income includes:
- Unearned wages due to recovery time and medical appointments
- Reduced wages due to light duty or shorter hours
- Missed economic opportunities for business owners and the self-employed
You could place a value on your lost income by showing how many hours you typically work. If you are self-employed, you could show what you would have earned from contract jobs that you had received but could not complete.
Diminished Earning Capacity
When you suffer an injury, you may need to change jobs or retire from working altogether. Diminished earning capacity represents the future income you could have earned but cannot due to disabilities.
To calculate diminished earning capacity, you count all your future earnings for the rest of your working life. For example, suppose that you fracture your skull and suffer a brain injury in a slip and fall accident. As a result, you must quit your job as an accountant.
Your diminished earning capacity covers your salary until you would have retired. So if your accident happened at age 45, you might pursue 20 years’ worth of future paychecks.
Proving Your Economic Damages
Since economic damages represent financial costs and losses, you must prove them with financial records such as:
- Bank and credit card statements
- Check stubs
- Medical bills
- Repair quotes
Just keep in mind that you can only recover compensation for reasonable and necessary expenses or reasonably certain lost income. Otherwise, a claims adjuster or jury might reduce the amount or exclude it altogether.
The Role of the Injury Attorney
One of the most important contributions of an injury attorney happens early in a case, at which point your lawyer will assess the value of your case and estimate how much you could reasonably expect from the case. This evaluation will help determine whether you receive a fair settlement offer for your injuries.
Economic damages are meant to put you back into your starting financial position. However, they are not the end of your damage claim. To discuss the full value of your injury claim, call Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers at (602) 595-5559 or contact us online for a free consultation. We serve clients in Phoenix, AZ and Albuquerque, NM.