How Are Damages Calculated in Alabama?

If the negligent actions of another party have caused a significant injury, you may be thinking about suing that person to recover financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic costs associated with the incident. This includes actual expenses as well as compensation for things like physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Since Alabama imposes a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, you need to act as quickly as possible. You may be wondering how much money you might collect and how a judge and jury determine financial damages in a case like yours. Before you proceed with your claim, it’s important to understand that the burden of proof lies with you as the injured party. That means you’re required to demonstrated how the negligent actions of the other party have had negative effects on your life that you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

Alabama also allows for punitive damages in extreme situations. The law stipulates that a personal injury victim may be entitled to this additional compensation when the responsible party acted in a way that demonstrates clear and convincing evidence of intentional malice, fraud, oppression, or wantonness towards the victim.

Payments for Expenses You Could Receive

In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge and jury consider both economic and non-economic damages. The first category includes actual expenses in several categories as well as anticipated future expenses or losses in the same category. Typical examples include:

  • Loss of income and/or earning capacity: If the nature of your injuries forced you to miss work unpaid or to use your own vacation time or sick leave, you’re eligible to sue for lost income. You will need a doctor’s report estimating how much work you might miss in the future to receive payment for the work hours you expect to miss. It’s also possible that you can no longer perform your regular job and need to accept a part-time or less physically taxing position to accommodate your new physical limitations. The court would consider your current and past salaries as well as missed promotions due to the injuries when determining your award amount.
  • Medical costs: Between emergency care, hospital admission, ongoing supplies, physical therapy, and other costs, it doesn’t take long before you could potentially owe hundreds of thousands of dollars. As with lost wages and earning capacity, the court estimates your future medical expenses when determining the amount of this portion of your personal injury lawsuit.
  • Damage to property: If the other party seriously damaged your vehicle or any of its contents, you could receive compensation for repair or replacement. For example, you may have been on your way to a sporting practice with several hundred dollars of equipment in your vehicle that is now unusable due to the crash.

Pain and Suffering and Other Non-Economic Damages

While it can be challenging to determine future expenses for economic damages, the judge and jury base these awards off pre-determined amounts. However, non-economic damages are completely subjective and often depend on how much sympathy the court has for your situation. Pain and suffering, as mentioned above, may cover a variety of issues you experience due to the accident. In addition to physical pain, you could receive compensation for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, reputation damage, and much more. The only caveat is that you must prove the other party caused these issues with his or her negligent actions.

Loss of enjoyment of life or loss of companionship are two other common categories of subjective damages in a personal injury case. If you can no longer participate in an activity that brought you pleasure before the accident, you could qualify for loss of enjoyment compensation. Loss of companionship is more for the spouses of injured people whose relationship dynamics changed considerably due to the accident.

Schedule a Free Consultation to Learn More

Because everyone’s personal injury case is so different, we can’t say before filing a lawsuit on your behalf exactly how much you might receive. However, we can provide rough estimates based on similar cases in the past when you come to our Mobile, Alabama office for a no-obligation case review with one of our personal injury lawyers. We invite you to contact us at 1-800-256-7728 to request your one-on-one session.

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