Florida Personal Injury Claim Special Damages
When filing a personal injury claim, most people seek to maximize their financial recovery to cover the expenses resulting from the accident and their injuries. Experienced personal injury attorneys regularly help injured victims calculate the damages associated with their personal injury claims. Depending on the impacts of the injuries, victims may be entitled to both general and special damages. General damages include the intangible suffering associated with your claim. These damages may include the physical pain you endure along with any emotional trauma or distress resulting from the accident. On the other hand, special damages include tangible economic damages that are easy to quantify and calculate. That is when you have the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney guiding you through the legal process.
Medical expenses are often the most significant costs that burden victims after an accident. Recovering from a traumatic brain injury, for example, can cost between $85,000 and $3 million. Particularly severe injuries may involve long-term impacts on a victim’s quality of life and extensive medical costs. Victims who suffer spinal cord injuries causing quadriplegia can expect to pay more than $1 million in medical expenses during their first year of recovery.
Following your accident, keep track of all your medical bills. A single procedure, especially a surgical procedure or a hospital stay, may have multiple bills. Because different departments process the invoices for the various services they provide, you may receive separate bills at different times. Make sure you keep track of all your bills following the accident so that you may calculate the full extent of your medical treatment costs. An attorney may assist injured parties to ensure that all of their medical expenses are included in their calculation. Injured victims may seek compensation for various medical expenses including:
The cost of emergency treatment. Immediately after your accident, you may require emergency transportation to an emergency room. If you suffered substantial injuries in the accident, ambulance transportation will likely be mandatory. A single ambulance ride can cost between $204 and $2,000, depending on your location, the service you use, and how much care the ambulance provides. The cost of emergency care and transportation continues to rise in many cities across the United States. As a result, many accident victims find themselves struggling to pay for the care they received.
Immediate treatment provided by an emergency department can also have significant costs. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the prescribed treatment plan, you may require various diagnostic scans, procedures, or surgeries.
If you do not require emergency care after your accident, you may visit an urgent care center. Many urgent care centers can take care of immediate medical concerns without requiring an expensive trip to the emergency room. Whether visiting the emergency room, an urgent care center, or your primary care physician, a medical evaluation will provide critical documentation of your injuries. Documenting all costs associated with your injuries is important so that you may seek the full amount of financial compensation you deserve.
The cost of hospitalization. In the United States, the average cost of a day in the hospital is around $4,000. If you require extensive treatment, e.g., a stay in the Intensive Care Unit, you can expect much higher costs.
The cost of scans and procedures required to treat your injuries. Serious injuries may require multiple scans and procedures in assessing and treating your injuries. For example, internal injuries may require X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans for accurate diagnosis. In some cases, you may need multiple surgical procedures to help repair the damage to your body during the accident. Most treatment plans will involve regular monitoring of your recovery, including repeated testing to track the progress of the healing process. Oftentimes the costs of treatment for serious injuries will exceed the amount of coverage provided by victims’ health insurance coverage.
The cost of durable medical equipment to aid in your recovery or help with your mobility. Many types of injuries, including spinal cord damage and amputations, will require you to use durable medical equipment. Durable medical equipment helps victims adapt to their physical limitations and improve their independence following the accident. Depending on the type of injury, victims may require a wheelchair, crutches, braces, or other supports. At home, you may need a shower chair or to use a hospital bed while you learn to navigate with your injuries. Any durable medical equipment, including nonprescription equipment necessary to aid in your recovery, can be included in your calculation of medical expenses.
If your injuries require you to undergo an amputation, you may choose to use a prosthetic device to aid in mobility and independence. Prosthetic devices can cost between $5,000 and $50,000, depending on the complexity of the device and the level of assistance you require. Most prosthetic devices do not last for a lifetime. Rather, victims must replace the devices every 3-5 years on average, making the prosthesis an ongoing expense. Many victims also have to replace prosthetic devices within the first year following the accident as the wound heals and changes.
The cost of therapies. Many accident victims require extensive therapy to return to as close to normal as possible. Some victims may need physical therapy to help restore strength and flexibility to the injured areas of the body. Others require occupational therapy to relearn how to perform many tasks or to adapt to the limitations of their injuries. In particular, victims of traumatic brain injury, amputations, or spinal cord damage typically require considerable, long-term therapy. Victims of any type of traumatic accident may require psychological therapy to help cope with the emotional repercussions of the accident.
Costs Directly Associated With the Accident
Following the accident, you may have significant economic costs associated with your injuries beyond just the cost of medical care. Victims may require home and vehicle modifications to accommodate their injuries.
- Wheelchair ramps. If you must use a wheelchair for an extended period of time following the accident, you will need to make your home accessible. A permanent wheelchair ramp can cost between $3,500 and $8,000. Custom materials or features required to retrofit the wheelchair ramp with the existing design of your home can also increase the cost.
- Widened doorways. Like a wheelchair ramp, widened doorways will be necessary for victims who are confined to a wheelchair. Even if you use a wheelchair only on a part-time basis, you may desire the convenience and flexibility of moving through your home with ease. Widened doorways can increase accessibility, but can also substantially add to your financial burden in the aftermath of an accident.
- Accessibility modifications for the bedroom and bathroom. Depending on the type of injuries you sustain, you may need to modify your bathroom or purchase a hospital bed to increase your mobility. You may need to make accommodations to your shower or bath tub to increase your ability to care for yourself. Many accident victims may also use modified toilets to make them more accessible.
Lost Wages Due to Your Accident
After a minor accident, a victim may need to miss work for the day to visit the hospital and have their injuries evaluated. In addition, they may need to miss time from work to take care of any other tasks associated with the accident, including contacting an insurance company or attorney. On the other hand, if victims sustain serious injuries, they may need to miss a substantial amount of time from work.
- Hospitalization. While in the hospital, most accident victims cannot complete normal work tasks. More importantly, while hospitalized, victims need to focus on recovery, rather than worrying about missing work. Many victims cannot work due to pain, confusion, or other limitations caused by their injury.
- Recovery. Many injuries prevent accident victims from taking on their normal work tasks throughout their recovery. The extent of the time off work needed to recover will depend on the victim’s injuries and the victim’s job duties. For example, a victim with a traumatic brain injury might struggle to work in a customer service position. Traumatic brain injuries can impede victims’ ability to think on their feet or control their emotions. A victim with a broken leg might complete the responsibilities of an office job with ease within a few days or weeks of the accident. However, he might struggle to handle the more physical tasks in a factory environment.
In assessing your recovery’s impact on your ability to return to work, you may need to work with both your boss and your doctor to create a plan. You must create a plan to return to work that will not compromise your recovery, especially after sustaining life-altering injuries. Many accident victims can return to work on a limited basis as recovery progresses if their employer makes reasonable accommodations for their injuries. Working from home or modifying work hours while recovery progresses can decrease the amount of time missed from work.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations for injuries when possible. However, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require time to recover before making a full return to work.
Therapies and appointments. If you have serious injuries, you may need to attend therapy and appointments to aid in your recovery. In this case, victims may be required to miss additional time from work even after they can return to work. Because most therapists and doctors work during normal business hours, you may be required to miss work to keep up with your appointments.
Lost time after procedures. Some injuries require multiple surgeries and procedures for the victim to make a full recovery. The recovery required for each surgery or procedure can cause you to miss valuable time from work.
Lost earning potential. In addition to actual lost wages from your accident, you may face a loss of earning potential. Your earning potential diminishes following an accident if you cannot return to your job in your former capacity. If you suffer a spinal cord injury, for example, you might completely lose the ability to work in a factory job. A model who suffers disfigurement from burn injuries might need to choose a new profession. By claiming lost earning potential, you can:
- Supplement your income during a long recovery so that you can pay your regular bills as well as bills associated directly with the accident.
- Fund your need to return to school to pursue a new profession.
- Pay for certification exams and classes that will allow you to choose a new profession or further your chances of employment.
Domestic and Caretaking Costs Due to Your Injuries
Following your accident, you may require substantial at-home care even after your release from the hospital. Many victims require skilled nursing care to help them with daily tasks following a severe accident. While some family members can return home to care for a spouse or child, others may need to hire help.
- House care. If you cannot keep up with regular cleaning responsibilities, you may need to hire someone to handle those tasks for you.
- Child care. Following serious injuries, victims may lack the ability to care for children, especially small children, alone. Bringing in a caregiver or nanny or paying for childcare outside the home can substantially increase your expenses.
- Home and yard maintenance. When you suffer serious injuries in an accident, you may struggle to take care of household tasks. If your injuries require a professional to help, you can include those expenses as part of your special damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
As part of your personal injury lawsuit, you may also include the costs of property damage caused by the accident. In an auto accident, for example, you might include the damage to or loss of your vehicle. If you smashed your phone in a slip and fall accident, you can include the cost of its replacement. In the case of property fires due to another party’s negligence, you might include the cost of lost possessions. Talk with an attorney to get a better idea of how property losses can impact your claim.
After your accident, you will likely experience substantial economic losses, many of which you can include as special damages in your personal injury claim. A personal injury attorney can begin calculating your losses and strengthening your claim.