How are damages computed in a personal injury case?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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In a personal injury case, compensatory damages typically can cover all economic losses caused by the injury, including past and probable future medical expenses, loss of the earnings that you would have earned but for the injury, and, if the disability is permanent, the loss of future earnings through retirement. For children and persons without an earning history, courts often take into account probable earning capacity. In addition to economic loss, you may also be entitled to be compensated for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Courts award damages in a single lump sum. The portion of the award that relates to potential future income and future medical expenses is often discounted to take into account the interest income that could be expected to be earned on the sum. Depending on the state you are in, the potential of future inflation, and the tax-free nature of compensatory damages may also be taken into account.

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