THE BENEFITS OF RETAINING AN ATTORNEY FOR A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
In Virginia, the levels of compensation for the negligence of another person’s act that cause injury, such as the at-fault driver in a car accident who rear-ended someone as they stopped at a red light, will depend on establishing liability. Liability is necessary in a personal injury matter as a predicate to getting compensation, but once it’s established, a personal injury attorney can get what are called compensatory damages. In Virginia, such damages fall into two categories; Special Damages and General Damages.
Personal Injury Special Damages Compensation
Special damages, or “Specials,” are compensation for out-of-pocket expenses incurred, including the costs of all medical treatment if the person is found 100 percent. That means, if the medical bills are $50,000, then the other party’s insurance company, the “Tortfeasor,” will pay the full $50,000, or all of the medical bills incurred that are related to the accident, as well as the cost of prescriptions, the cost of taxis to get to doctor’s appointments when the car is damaged or being repaired, subway receipts and anything else related to having to get to your doctor’s or physical therapy appointment; this is all special damages.
Other expenses that the tortfeasor’s insurance carrier may have to cover can also include hiring a gardener or a housekeeper because you’re unable to do those things due to your injury. Of course, special damages also includes lost wages and income, including compensation for time you missed from work due to pain and suffering, inconvenience and doctor and therapy visits at your hourly, weekly or annualized rate of pay.
Personal Injury General Damages Compensation
General damages are what we call the area of pain, suffering, inconvenience, discomfort, scarring, disfigurement and permanent injuries in which someone loses a limb or sight or is paralyzed or permanently loses some degree of mobility. All of those items are compensable and therefore have to be assessed some type of monetary value if appropriate. An insurance company, judge or jury will ultimately determine the value of pain and suffering, inconvenience, discomfort and if applicable, scarring, disfigurement and permanent injury or permanent partial injury.
The art of being a personal injury lawyer is to determine a value of general damages and to convince an insurance adjuster that the degree of pain and suffering and all general damages is worth that value. That is the real heart of a personal injury claim; medical bills are medical bills and prescription receipts are prescription receipts and lost wages are lost wages; all of those are easily verifiable and determinable. Establishing a value for general damages such as pain and suffering is the art of the personal injury lawyer.