What are Future Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
If you suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, you should not have to face any expenses as a consequence of that injury. Justice means that the person or people responsible for your injury should be the same ones responsible for paying for it. After a serious accident, you deserve justice and an experienced Arkansas personal injury attorney can help you achieve it. However, when seeking justice, it is important to understand the damages you may need to account for to ensure that you are not left responsible for the bills.
Some of the financial impact, such as past medical bills, loss of wages or income, or property loss or damage is straightforward. These items can quickly be determined by looking at the medical bills you accrued and the wage compensation you would have received during the period in question. If you suffered a broken leg in a car accident, for example, you should be compensated for the medical bills from your hospital visits, the damages to your car, and recovering lost wages for any amount of time you were unable to work.
The last thing you want to do is hastily accept a settlement offer and then be paying your own medical bills down the line when the settlement money is long gone. It is important to think about future expenses when you consider what your injury is “worth.”
What are Future Damages?
Future damages are some of the most difficult types of damages to calculate. Once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot go back and ask for more money in the future – even if your injuries take a turn for the worse. That is why it is so important to make sure you receive the amount of compensation you deserve after an accident.
Any settlement offer or award must factor in future damages. These are damages that are intended to compensate you for losses you may suffer in the future because of the injuries you sustained now. A lifetime of medical bills and hospital visits or the need for future assistance by a caretaker of some sort are examples. These damages are a necessary component of a settlement because they give you peace of mind knowing that you have the money you need to handle your medical expenses and future after the accident.
Types of Future Damages
The issue with future damages is that many insurance companies fear that these damages will be improperly inflated. As such, they often refuse to award maximum dollars to injured accident victims without evidence. This is where your personal injury attorney will help the most. Your attorney will need to work with expert witnesses, including doctors and therapists, to provide testimony to how your injuries will affect your future and your ability to work. These experts will help determine the future life care needs, as well as the present value of those future costs.
Will your injuries require long-term hospitalization, rehabilitation, or future surgical interventions? Will you completely recover or will you have a permanent disability? Will these injuries impact your ability to work in your chosen profession? These are all questions your attorney will need to answer when seeking future damages.
Future Loss of Earnings
In some cases, your accident injuries may prevent you from returning to work, working in your chosen profession, or working full-time. You may have to cut your hours back or even switch jobs altogether. When this happens, you can lose a substantial amount of money every month for years. You may also lose out on valuable benefits, including retirement plans, etc. As such, any settlement must factor in any future loss of earnings that may occur.
To calculate this loss, your personal injury attorney will need to look at several factors and answer the following questions:
- What were your net weekly earnings at the time of the accident?
- What is your current wage now after the accident?
- When is your planned retirement age?
- What is your diminished working capacity? Are you working at all or are you working part-time hours?
- Did your accident affect your ability to receive promotions or stay on your current employment advancement path?
Future Medical Expenses
Recovery can be a long and arduous process. Some individuals never make a full recovery and live with partial or permanent impairment. Other people reach maximum medical improvement but must continue to undergo treatments or surgeries in the future. These types of expenses can overwhelm injured accident victims. Without enough compensation, you may find yourself paying for all future treatments and surgeries related to your accident.
To determine what future medical expenses you may need to account for, your personal injury lawyer will need to work with medical experts to determine how your injuries will affect your future and your ability to maintain your lifestyle. These doctors, therapists, and surgeons can help us determine the treatments and interventions you may need to undergo in the future. We can then add these future expenses up to arrive at the amount of your future medical damages.
At Rainwater Holt & Sexton, LLP, we regularly use life care experts and economic experts. Through these retained experts, we are able to predict the future and present that information to a judge and jury if the insurance company won’t settle for a reasonable amount. It is our job to get our client the amount of compensation that will include the cost of all past losses AND the present value of the cost of all future losses, as well. Since Rainwater Holt & Sexton will not get paid until our client gets paid, we have a vested interest in maximizing the recovery.
Future Pain & Suffering
Pain and suffering are other kinds of damage for which you might be entitled to compensation. However, these damages can be more of a grey area and also include emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment or consortium. If your injury had a psychological impact and you could not, for example, ride in a car for a period of time after the car accident, or were not able to maintain the same lifestyle or relationships previously enjoyed, then additional compensation would be due. These things do not always have a clear value, or may not initially be apparent. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to value these damages and present that value to the insurance company or, if necessary, to the jury.
Why Hire an Arkansas Personal Injury Attorney?
After an accident, you only get one chance to get it right. If you sign a settlement that doesn’t give you enough money or that fails to factor in future damages, you cannot go back and ask for more. When this happens, the sad truth is that you will be the one left responsible for the medical bills and expenses you incur. As such, it is important to get it right the first time. You need an Arkansas personal injury lawyer fighting on your behalf every step of the way.
Your personal injury attorney will need to evaluate all of your damages and work with experts to project how those damages will affect your future. Your lawyer will then negotiate aggressively with insurance companies to get you the money you need to tackle anything that comes your way. This is a complex process and one that requires a lawyer with extensive knowledge of personal injury laws in Arkansas.