Personal Injury: Calculating Compensatory Damages
When an injury happens to you due to the negligence of another person or entity, New Hampshire law provides for relief in the form of compensation for injuries sustained from the negligent party:
There are several different types of damages that are recoverable in New Hampshire and the court will consider several types of losses, which include pain and suffering, lost wages, and dismemberment, to name a few. But, how does the court calculate compensatory damages in a personal injury case? Before you can understand how damages are calculated, it is important to understand how to potentially win your personal injury case.Winning a Personal Injury Claim in New Hampshire
In order to win a personal injury claim in the state of New Hampshire, the Plaintiff must meet the necessary burden of proof by showing that:
- The defendant owed a duty to you, the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached that duty of care; and
- Your injuries were proximately caused by the defendant’s actions.
In order to prove (and prevail) that harm that the plaintiff has suffered and the pain and economic losses the plaintiff has endured, evidence in a personal injury claim can be classified into two different categories: physical evidence and non-physical evidence.Physical Evidence
Physical evidence can be anything that is found at the scene of the accident or injury. Physical evidence refers to anything that is tangible, can be toughed, or observed and physically understood by the jury. In personal injury cases, physical evidence can be impacting because it allows the jury to actually see what happened. Physical evidence can come in a few different forms, two primary forms of physical evidence are:
- Tangible Evidence: "Tangible" evidence can refer to things that the jury can have direct interaction with. This can include things like wrecked vehicles, or a recovery scar. These are things that the jury can observe to gain a sensory impression of the incident and its effects.
- Photographs: Sometimes, physical evidence cannot be wholly preserved. It may be necessary to document the evidence in photographic form. Commonly photographed evidence can include the immediate scene of your injury, your initial injuries, and your medical operations. If the original scenes or injuries are unavailable for presentation, photographs can help provide the jury with an idea of what happened and how you were affected.
Non-physical evidence is typically presented as information to the jury. The information is often testimonial in nature and is presented to the jury in an effort to have them come to an intended conclusion from the evidence presented. Most of the time, non-physical evidence, is the bulk the evidence used in the case as access to physical evidence is often more difficult to obtain. Non-physical evidence may take several forms.
- Police reports;
- Medical bills; and
- Medical records.
Before your case starts you need to gather as much evidence as possible while also keeping in mind that not all evidence will be permissible in court, but your experienced attorney at Tenn And Tenn, PA. will need to see as much information as possible to help jump start the case.Calculating Compensatory Damages
When you have won your personal injury claim, the next step is the consideration of compensatory damages. There are certain statutory considerations which must take place when determining the damages awarded. For example, if there is more than one defendant, which defendant pays which amount of the damages?Apportionment of Damages
New Hampshire law provides for the apportionment of damages, when necessary, in all personal injury actions. “The court shall:
- Instruct the jury to determine, or if there is no jury shall find, the amount of damages to be awarded to each claimant and against each defendant in accordance with the proportionate fault of each of the parties; and
- Enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of the rules of joint and several liability, except that if any party shall be less than 50 percent at fault, then that party's liability shall be several and not joint and he shall be liable only for the damages attributable to him.”
In the State of New Hampshire, the court will also consider contributory fault when calculating compensatory damages. This means that if the plaintiff contributed to their injury then the court will subtract the determined amount of plaintiff fault from the proportion of compensatory damages to be received.Non-Verifiable Monetary Losses
There are many types of losses and damages that are recoverable under New Hampshire law. Non-verifiable monetary losses are certainly recoverable and may be calculated into compensatory damages in a personal injury claim. Of these types of losses, most individuals are familiar with the phrase “pain and suffering.” Pain and suffering is a damage that can be given a monetary value by a judge or jury in New Hampshire.
However, there is a limit under the law which puts a cap on the amount of non-verifiable monetary losses. New Hampshire law states:
In any action for personal injury, the damages awarded may include compensation for non-economic loss, including pain and suffering and such other elements of damage which are recognized by law and which are not objectively verifiable monetary losses. However, damages for non-economic loss shall in no case exceed $875,000.
In a proper action, either a wife or husband is entitled to recover damages for loss or impairment of right of consortium whether caused intentionally or by negligent interference.
In addition, a spouse has the right to recover damages for the deprivation of the family relationship due to the injuries caused to their partner. This is known as the “loss of consortium.” In part, the law states:Verifiable Economic Losses
When calculating compensatory damages for a personal injury claim there are several verifiable economic losses to review in order determine an amount that makes the plaintiff whole. Often, economic losses are calculated using medical bills or lost wages, but can also be determined by expert medical testimony in order to quantify the economic cost, at present and in the future, for a permanent injury or disfigurement.Medical Bills and Lost Wages
If you have suffered an injury it is likely that you will have plenty of medical bills due to said injury.
When calculating compensatory damages for medical bills, you have to take into consideration the nature and severity of your injury. You do not want to account for just your current medical bills; you also must include any future costs that you may incur due to extended medical care.
The same goes for lost wages. It is easy to see how much work you have missed up to the point of the suit, but many plaintiffs are not ready or able to go back to work for many months, and some may never be able to return. You may also be entitled to recover the loss of any future wages because of the accident.New Hampshire Injury Attorneys
With more than 20 years of experience assisting injured clients in Manchester, New Hampshire, the personal injury lawyers at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. are here to help. For these stressful and complicated issues, you need attorneys who are dedicated and experienced personal injury legal professionals. Tenn And Tenn, P.A. is ranked among the best injury lawyers in New Hampshire. Contact us today for a free injury consultation.