If you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit over a car accident, slip and fall, or any other kind of injury, you may be wondering “What is my case really worth?” The answer comes down to “damages,” which are calculated by the sum of what your injuries have cost you monetarily, physically, and mentally.
In a personal injury case, money damages are paid to an injured person (the plaintiff) by the person or company who is found to be legally responsible for the accident (the defendant or their insurer). A damage award can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement, among the parties, their insurance companies, and their attorneys, or it may be ordered by a judge or jury following a court trial. A common formula employs a multiplier to your overall medical expenses to come up with an estimate of non-economic damages (for your pain and suffering). This figure is added to your economic losses, including any medical bills, property damage, or lost income, to get to a dollar amount from which you can then negotiate from.
The first step in negotiating a settlement for a car accident or personal injury claim is calculating a reasonable amount of money you would accept to give up your legal claim. Most insurance companies and injury attorneys rely on one formula or another to get a starting point for settlement talks. The same is true for a bodily injury claim in a car accident case, a slip and fall injury claim, or any other type of personal injury case.
In cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed particularly egregious or outrageously careless, a personal injury plaintiff may even be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages. Punitive damages stem from a rationale that is quite different from the justification tied to compensatory damages, which attempt to “make someone whole.”
Punitive damages are awarded to the injured plaintiff, but the real goal of these kinds of damages is to punish the defendant for their conduct and to act as a further deterrent. Since it isn’t unusual for punitive damage awards to top tens of millions of dollars, most states have set some type of cap on punitive damage awards in personal injury cases. Generally, awards in Louisiana are only recoverable in cases involving intoxicated drivers.
The state of Louisiana has a general policy against doling out punitive damages except where expressly allowed by statute, and personal injury claims typically do not give rise to this type of damages. Currently, there are only five articles found in the Louisiana Civil Code addressing punitive damages. Specifically, the Civil Code allows punitive damages for child pornography, drunk driving, criminal sexual activity with minors (sexual abuse of a child), and domestic violence. Article 3546 allows for punitive damages when 2 out of 3 elements are met:
- the state where injury occurred allows punitive damages;
- the state where injurious conduct occurred allows punitive damages; and
- the state where defendant is domiciled allows punitive damages.
Our experienced personal injury attorney at The Greenwald Law Firm has helped many victims in Shreveport and Bossier City obtain financial compensation for their injuries, including dealing with complicated insurance disputes. Joey Greenwald has passionately represented people who have suffered from personal injuries in litigation, giving each client the attention they deserve for their unique case. If you or a loved one have suffered due to someone else’s negligence, contact our Shreveport personal injury law firm today for a free and confidential consultation.