Once the breach of the duty is established, the only requirement left is to determine if the Plaintiff was harmed by the Defendant’s negligent act and the compensation for the victim. Generally, in determining damages, the Defendant’s culpability is of no consequence, unless punitive damages are assigned.
An important step in compensating the victim is determining if a “reasonable person” would have been harmed by the negligent act. If not, the claim dies here. If so, then the victim must be compensated. Damages are said to be compensatory in nature and are meant to address the Plaintiff’s losses and make him whole.
The types of damages regularly awarded to injured victims are the following:
- Special Damages: Special damages are quantifiable dollar losses suffered from the date of defendant’s negligent act up to a specified time. For example, as a result of a car accident, a plaintiff may have damaged his vehicle, rendering him unable to return to work for a month. In that example, a plaintiff may recover for lost wages due to injury and loss of a vehicle and the medical bills associated with treatment of his injuries. In addition, the plaintiff may be compensated for the loss of his property resulting from the accident, including his vehicle and any and all items damaged as a result of the accident.
Under certain circumstances, a plaintiff may be compensated for lost future earnings if an accident rendered him incapable of continuing on a certain career path. For example, if the presence of a toxic mold case destroyed an attorney’s memory to the point where he could no longer practice law, that attorney may be compensated for the loss of future earnings resulting from his inability to practice law.
If an injury causes some permanent or chronic condition that requires continuing medical care, that person may be compensated for the future costs of medical treatment as well. However, though such damages are available to plaintiffs, they are never easily proved. In almost all circumstances, these damages require experts that can give an opinion as to the extent of future loss. Medical experts and economic experts can provide an accurate assessment for the cost of health care required and the loss of future earnings.
In addition, pursuant to the “collateral source rule”, the damages awarded against the defendant, such medical bills and other special damages covered by an insurer, are still compensable despite the fact that that bill was paid from a collateral source.
- General Damages: General damages are damages that are not quantified in monetary terms. Primarily, this type of damage addresses the victim’s pain and suffering. Generally, pain and suffering may result from a loss of enjoyment of life, such as when an avid mountain biker loses both legs and can no longer ride a bike. Another example is where a spouse is left in a vegetative state and the other spouse loses his/her care and comfort.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages require intentional malicious, oppressive or fraudulent conduct and are therefore generally not available under a negligence theory, unless the Plaintiff can show gross negligence or reckless indifference upon which punitive damages may be awarded to punish the liable party. However, where the complaint involves an intentional tort, such as false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, battery, and the like, punitive damages are available to a Plaintiff. In Nevada, a plaintiff may recover punitive damages when evidence demonstrates that the defendant has acted with “malice, express or implied.”
We can discuss with you what you can reasonably expect from your claim. Just call Eric Roy Law Firm at (702) 423-3333.