When a plaintiff files a lawsuit, the purpose of the case is often to seek compensation for damages. In many injury cases, damages are monetary in nature and may be awarded for various reasons.
Monetary damages are usually awarded as compensatory damages intended to make up for injuries and losses the plaintiff experienced. Compensatory damages may be awarded to cover economic losses and non-economic injuries. Depending on your injuries, you can claim monetary damages for losses you have already experienced in addition to losses that have not yet come to pass but can be reasonably anticipated. Punitive damages, while also monetary in nature, are instead meant to punish defendants. Punitive damages are not awarded frequently and may only be awarded under specific conditions.
It might sound somewhat cold and callous to reduce your painful injuries and experiences to money, but awarding monetary damages is one of the only ways courts can offer relief. Call our Alabama personal injury lawyers at Howe Law for a free case review. Call us at (844) 876-4357.
Why Monetary Damages Are Important in Alabama Injury Cases
The word “damages” is a bit of legal jargon that generally refers to a plaintiff’s injuries, losses, and expenses incurred because of their injuries. Money is an important element of damages. In a perfect world, securing justice would involve undoing the harm suffered by plaintiffs. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and some harms cannot be undone. Instead, courts remedy problems with money. Assessing monetary damages is often difficult, and our Alabama personal injury lawyers can help you accurately calculate damages to maximize your potential compensation.
Monetary damages are perhaps the most common way that courts handle injury cases, but it is not the only possible outcome. In some cases, courts can order specific performance by the defendant – but this is usually not relevant in injury cases. Specific performance involves the defendant performing some action or service for the plaintiff. For example, a court might order the defendant to move a fence in a property dispute.
Some injuries do not technically cost plaintiffs money, but they may still be compensated with monetary damages awards. For example, physical pain, emotional trauma, or public humiliation are all common experiences suffered by injured plaintiffs, but they do not usually cost plaintiffs any money. Even so, courts can evaluate these experiences and award monetary damages.
How Compensatory Damages Work in Injury Cases in Alabama
There are several subcategories of compensatory damages, and they are evaluated very differently. Economic damages are based on monetary expenses, while non-economic damages stem from subjective experiences. Our Alabama personal injury lawyers have experience dealing with both kinds of damages and can help you with your own monetary damages.
Economic damages encompass the losses, injuries, and experiences that took a financial toll on the plaintiff. Suppose you were injured in a car accident and rushed to the emergency room. Your hospital bill, surgeries, medications, and any other treatments you received should be considered economic damages. In many cases, plaintiffs cannot return to work and claim the value of lost income. If you lost personal property when you were injured, the value of your property should also be counted.
Economic damages are certainly easier to calculate. Usually, these damages already have a predetermined price or value, and costs are simply added together. Calculating economic damages might still be difficult if you encounter a great many economic losses. Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys can help you review all your expenses since the accident and determine what should be factored into your economic damages.
Economic damages typically do not have statutory limits and may be as high as necessary. For example, if you incurred $100,000 in economic damages, each and every penny may be claimed in your lawsuit. Since the only limits are your actual expenses, it is important to account for all losses and expenses.
Non-economic damages are somewhat harder to wrap your mind around because they do not normally cost money but are still financially compensated. Instead of costs, bills, and expenses, non-economic damages relate to personal experiences. Since these experiences are subjective, their value is determined by the unique factors of your case.
Some common examples of non-economic damages in injury cases include physical pain, emotional suffering, humiliation, and damage to your reputation. These damages are often calculated using multiple factors, including the severity of your injuries, duration of recovery, and overall impact on your life.
There are no statutory limits on non-economic damages, and we can pursue as much compensation as we believe your case is worth. However, it should be noted that non-economic damages tend to revolve around economic losses. Generally, the more economic damages you have, the higher your non-economic damages might be. Our Biloxi personal injury attorneys can help you assess these damages.
Claiming Monetary Damages for Future Expenses in Alabama
Monetary damages may be awarded for both past and future damages. Past damages are those that the plaintiff incurred after their injury but before the trial. Future damages are losses the plaintiff anticipates but has not yet experienced. Our Alabama personal injury lawyers can help you identify possible future losses and include them in your demands for relief.
According to Ala. Code § 6-11-2(2), future damages are losses that can be reasonably anticipated following the date of the final judgment. This is more common than many realize and stems from ongoing injuries. For example, if you were badly injured by the defendant and needed long-term or indefinite medical care, your future medical expenses may be claimed as future monetary damages. Similarly, your lost future income may be claimed if you cannot return to work for an extended time, possibly forever.
Punitive Damages in Injury Lawsuits Under Alabama Law
Punitive damages are a separate category of monetary damages awarded as a punishment to the defendant. Under Ala. Code § 6-11-20(a), punitive damages may be awarded if the plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally engaged in fraud, oppression, malice, or wantonness when they injured the plaintiff. In many cases where punitive damages are awarded, the defendant’s actions against the plaintiff were especially shocking, outrageous, or egregious.
Limits are placed on punitive damages, but the limit changes depending on the circumstances. Generally, under Ala Code § 6-11-21(a), punitive damages are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is more.
Under Ala. Code § 6-11-21(b), if the defendant is a small business, the limit for punitive damages is $50,000 or 10% of the business’s net worth, whichever is more.
Limits on punitive damages in injury cases are specifically mentioned under Ala. Code § 6-11-21(d). In such cases, the limit is three times the amount of compensatory damages or $1,500,000, whichever is more.
Contact Our Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys for a Free Evaluation of Your Case
If you were injured in an accident or by someone’s intentional actions, our Gulfport personal injury attorneys can help you get monetary damages. For a free case evaluation, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.