If you or someone you loved has suffered serious injuries and you’re considering a lawsuit, it makes sense to ask how much compensation you stand to receive. Filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial is a long and challenging process, and while the sense of justice a lawsuit can give you is important, you also need to weigh the financial costs against what you stand to gain. No victim wants to come out of a lawsuit in worse financial shape than when they started.
Seeking the legal counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney is the most reliable and efficient way to determine whether you have a strong claim that could compensate you for your injuries and financial losses. Personal injury attorneys are experts at analyzing your case details and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your potential lawsuit.
Keep reading to learn about some of the key factors that a personal injury attorney will look at to decide whether you have a strong case and how much compensation you may be able to receive.
Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When a victim suffers serious injuries because of someone else’s negligent behavior, Oklahoma law says the victim is entitled to damages, which are a form of financial compensation designed to compensate the victim for their expenses and suffering.
There are three main types of damages that you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages include all the victim’s injury-related expenses and financial losses that come with a paper trail. In other words, any kind of loss or expense you can prove with a receipt, bill, or other type of documentation falls under the category of economic damages.
Economic damages can compensate you for expenses and losses such as:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Vehicle or property repairs
- Lost wages
- Reduced earnings capacity
- Legal fees
Receiving economic damages depends on being able to provide documentation. So, if you’re experiencing pain and discomfort after your injuries, but you never went to the doctor and received medical treatment, you won’t be able to receive economic damages for medical bills and physical therapy. This is one of many reasons why it’s always important to seek medical treatment after an injury.
Non-economic damages provide compensation for less tangible losses. Rather than covering bills and expenses, these damages compensate victims for the physical and psychological suffering they experience because of their injuries.
Non-economic damages can compensate victims for hardships that include:
- Physical pain
- Physical disabilities
- Impairments or scars
- Lasting depression, anxiety, and mental trauma
- Loss of ability to enjoy life, including favorite hobbies and activities
Non-economic damages can be difficult to calculate, but a personal injury lawyer should know how to estimate these damages. They may work with doctors and mental health experts to try and translate the suffering and emotional trauma you’ve experienced into concrete terms that provide grounds for non-economic damages.
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When people engage in especially negligent and reckless behavior, juries sometimes award victims extra damages, both as a form of punishment and to warn others against engaging in the same kind of behavior. These damages are called punitive damages.
Punitive damages are generally only available in cases where the defendant’s behavior constitutes extreme negligence or intentional harmful acts. Because the types of actions that meet this standard can vary widely, it’s impossible to say whether you may be able to receive punitive damages without knowing the facts of your case. The only way to know whether punitive damages may factor into your overall compensation is to talk with an experienced injury lawyer.
Before you can receive any damages, you’ll need to work with an attorney to establish that the person who injured you was negligent — in other words, that they were at fault for causing your injuries. Proving negligence can be complicated, and it may require testimony from witnesses or even experts such as medical doctors, highway safety experts, and accident reconstructionists.
Your own degree of responsibility can also have a big effect on the outcome of your case. As an example, let’s say you suffered injuries in a car wreck caused by another driver. The other driver ran a red light and caused the wreck, but you were sending a text message at the time and didn’t notice the other vehicle as a result.
While the other driver broke the law and created a dangerous situation by running the red light, you may have made the situation worse and contributed to your injuries by texting behind the wheel. You may still be able to file a lawsuit and receive compensation in this situation, but your case will be weaker than if you were paying attention to the road at the time of the wreck and did everything you reasonably could to avoid the crash.
Keep in mind that the defendant in your lawsuit doesn’t need to be completely at fault for your injuries, and you can still receive compensation if your own actions played some role in causing the incident that injured you. In Oklahoma, you can still file a lawsuit and receive compensation if the court determines you bear less than 51 percent of the responsibility for your injuries.
Even though you can still receive compensation if you were partially at fault, your case becomes stronger the less you were at fault. This is because the court will reduce your overall compensation by a percentage based on your level of responsibility for your injuries. For example, if you were 30 percent at fault for your injuries, then Oklahoma law says you can only recover 70 percent of the total damages.
As with other aspects of your personal injury case, determining fault is a job for an experienced attorney. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer because you feel you may have been partially at fault for your injuries. Let an attorney gather the facts of your case and make that determination based on their experience and knowledge of the personal injury lawsuit process in Oklahoma.
Contact Atkins & Markoff for a Free Personal Injury Case Evaluation in Oklahoma
While these guidelines may help you get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, the only reliable way to know how much compensation you may be able to receive and whether filing a lawsuit is the right decision is to speak with an experienced injury lawyer. At Atkins & Markoff, we offer free confidential case evaluations for all personal injury cases, so you can get expert advice from one of our dedicated personal injury attorneys at no cost and with no financial commitment.
To schedule your free consultation, please call (405) 758-5836 or complete this quick and convenient online form. Remember, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is only two years in Oklahoma, so don’t wait — get in touch with us today.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.