Types of Damages Available in DC Personal Injury Cases

By Peter DePaolis

After an accident, you may have accrued medical bills, lost income, and may be unable to return to work. This, plus the emotions you and your loved ones may be going through, can lead to a lot of stress. The last thing you want to deal with is figuring out how and what you may be able to recover to get back on track with your life and your finances. Our Washington, DC personal injury attorney can help evaluate your situation and pursue all of the damages that may be available to you due to your personal injury case.

What is a Personal Injury Case?

A personal injury case is a claim when a person has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a business or another person. Many cases are settled out of court and never go to trial. The goal is to get you compensated for your past, present, and future losses and get you back on your feet. If you cannot resume the same quality of life as before the accident, then the goal is to make sure you recover enough to cover your future care and needs.

Types of Damages

There are two categories of damages in DC personal injury cases. The first is called compensatory, and the second is called punitive. Let’s break down what these mean.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages refer to recovering compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and any property damage you suffered. Compensatory damages are either “economic” or “non-economic.” 

Economic damages generally result from the accident. Common examples are:

  • Your doctor or hospital bills, including costs of future and ongoing treatments, surgeries, physical therapy, etc.
  • The income you did not earn because you were out of work were recovering from your injury
  • Lost benefits
  • Damage to your property such as repair bills, costs of obtaining a replacement property, rental car expenses, etc. 
  • Costs you may have incurred pay for household services that you could no longer perform

Economic damages are usually easy to quantify because there are easy to obtain records that substantiate them. Non-economic damages are a little more complicated and are often the subject of debate between you and the defendant in your case. Examples include:

  • Your loss of earning capacity if you are unable to return to your job or a similar job or had to give up certain opportunities
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Compensation for any physical or mental disability that results from your accident or injury
  • Loss of consortium with your spouse or partner

It can be hard to prove these damages. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can help you put together a strong case is essential. An attorney will often have access to experts and other resources that can bolster your case.

Punitive Damages 

Punitive damages are a form of punishment, usually for outrageous behavior. They are meant to deter a person, business, or entity from acting similarly in the future. They are only awarded in a limited number of cases by a jury, where a court feels it is appropriate. A court must allow the issue of punitive damages to go forward before they can be considered or even awarded. Unfortunately, punitive damages are rarely awarded in a personal injury case.

Do Not Delay In Speaking With An Attorney  

Dealing with the consequences of an injury or accident can be overwhelming. However, you should not delay speaking with an attorney because you have limited time to file a claim in the District of Columbia. The statute of limitations for personal injuries is three years, with certain exceptions. For a free consultation, get in touch with our office today.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.