Economic Damages

Economic damages represent personal injury compensation for tangible, easy-to-count losses. The subcomponents of an economic damages claim are the first ones most people think of when they think about a personal injury claim—medical expenses, for example, and lost earnings.

What Are Economic Damages?

The Georgia Code indirectly defines economic damages to include medical expenses; rehabilitation and therapy; wages; earning capacity; non-wage income; funeral and burial expenses; the value of services formerly performed by the injury victim; and other monetary expenses.

Economic Damages in the Context of an Entire Personal Injury Claim

Economic damages are only one component of most personal injury claims. Two other possible components are:

  • Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Punitive damages, which don’t even compensate you for your own losses. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant.

Non-economic damages are routine, but courts rarely award punitive damages. Insurance companies almost never agree to them.

Common Types of Economic Damages

You can divide economic damages into four main classifications—medical expenses, lost earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, and property damage.

Medical Expenses

You can claim compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses. The accident in question must have been the cause of your injuries, however. Beware, as an insurance company might claim that your back injury (for example) was pre-existing and, therefore, not caused by the accident. Following are some examples of common medical expenses:

  • Ambulance fees,
  • Emergency room care,
  • Hospitalization,
  • Surgery,
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation,
  • Prescription medications,
  • Medical  devices such as a wheelchair or a pacemaker,
  • Medical supplies such as bandages,
  • Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays and CT scans,
  • Lab tests,
  • Doctor’s appointments,
  • Nursing and in-home care,
  • Mental health therapy,
  • Chiropractic care,
  • Occupational therapy, and
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle.

If you have not reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) by the time you file your claim, you should also claim compensation for estimated future medical expenses. You might need an expert witness to calculate this amount.

Lost Earnings

If you were earning an income at the time of your accident, you probably qualify for lost earnings compensation. The components of your claim depend on how you earned your money.

Salaried Employees

A salaried employee might claim compensation for the following losses:

  • Lost wages/salary,
  • Lost benefits (overtime, bonuses, and more),
  • Vacation time and sick leave (even if your company paid you for these days),
  • Lost benefits, such as health insurance premiums, and
  • Promotion and career advancement opportunities.

Other losses may apply as well in certain situations.

Self-Employed Individuals

Your losses will be different if you are self-employed:

  • Lost profits,
  • Lost business opportunities (new contracts or clients, and more),
  • Business overhead (for example, office rent even when you are not working),
  • Loss of customer goodwill (for instance, caused by your inability to take on new assignments during your recovery),

Necessary documentation for both employees and self-employed can include tax returns, a letter from your employer, profit and loss statements, bank statements, client contracts, and any other relevant financial documents.

Diminished Earning Capacity

‘Diminished earning capacity’ measures your probable future lost earnings if you have not fully recovered from your injuries by the time you file your claim. The following are some typical factors in such a calculation: 

  • The seriousness of your injuries;
  • The difference in your earnings (immediately before your accident vs. now);
  • Vocational expert testimony;
  • Your remaining working life expectancy; and
  • Any retraining or rehabilitation costs that you may incur.

Diminished earning capacity could turn out to be the largest component of your claim.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

‘Out-of-pocket expenses’ can refer to almost anything related to your claim as long as you paid for it out of your own pocket. Common expenses include:

  • Filing fees;
  • Service of process fees, for having a third party deliver notification of the lawsuit to the opposing party;
  • Medical records fees;
  • Expert witness fees;
  • Deposition transcripts;
  • Travel expenses; and
  • Other relevant items.

Your lawyer might pay many of these expenses for you upfront, and reimburse themself out of your compensation. It all depends on the terms of your fee agreement.

Property Damage

Property damages claims are typically limited to vehicle damage in car and truck accidents. Nevertheless, you might also claim damages based on destroyed personal property, loss of use (of your automobile), depreciation in value, and other miscellaneous property damage expenses.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation claims apply to workplace accidents. Economic damages are particularly important to a workers’ compensation claim, because you are probably ineligible for any other kind of damages. 

In some cases, however, you can file an ordinary personal injury lawsuit against a third party, notwithstanding the fact that your injury was work-related.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With an Experienced Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer

Economic damages are probably only part of your personal injury compensation equation, but they are important nevertheless. The earlier you get started pursuing your claim with help from a qualified Columbus personal injury lawyer, the better your chances of eventual success.

Get in touch today with our personal injury law office, and don’t hesitate to give us a call at (706) 940-4030. We’re here to help!