Serving Illinois and Nationwide
Determine How Much Money Your Economic Damages Are Worth: Four Factors
Illinois plays host to thousands of accidents. Each year, victims suffer all kinds of injuries. They arise a million different ways. We constantly review new types of incidents. They all share one thing in common though. If the injury came from another’s negligence, the victim can seek economic damages in court.
Before listing the factors that predict what your economic damages are worth, you should check to see if you’re entitled to any in the first place. This requires a simple critique of your negligence suit. It must contain some elements. You must show the boilerplate negligence action: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Simply put, the defendant violated his/her duty not to injure you and that caused you damages. In most Illinois accidents, this is easily done. For example, you could plead the defendant sped his car and crossed the median to hit you. Then, you got hurt, needed medical attention, and lost income while recovering. That’s a straightforward negligence case.
There are a few expert points this review misses though. For one thing you, you must show financial loss to get economic damages. Another point to mention, Illinois has pure comparative negligence. This means defendants can lower your recovery by how much you contributed to the incident. If you were negligent as well, that could hurt your chances at recovery. In fact, if you were more than 50% responsible for the event, you can’t recover at all!
All these insights help. Yet, many clients want a set of factors to help predict how much economic damages they can get at trial. We provide that below. We also give you some pertinent info about how these damages come about. They’ll assist you in your own case. If you want more help and insight, call our offices. Our team of lawyers has years of experience fighting for accident victims. We can make sure you don’t lose a penny!
What are Economic Damages?
In Illinois negligence cases, plaintiffs can pursue damages for tangible and intangible injuries. The former are referred to as economic damages. They’re the costs associated with the defendant’s misconduct that can quickly be calculated. To obtain them, plaintiffs must prove them with facts and law in court. Illinois’ jury instructions provide for that right in this passage.
“If you decide for the plaintiff on the question of liability, you must then fix the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate him for any of the following elements of damages proved by the evidence to have resulted from the negligence of the defendant, taking into consideration the nature, extent and duration of the injury and the aggravation of any pre-existing ailment or condition.” Illinois Civil Jury Instructions 30.01.
Most of the time, economic damages will be the out-of-pocket expenses the incident incurred. Illinois law provides some examples. It also gives a definition in 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.2(a). Here’s how it defines it. "Economic loss" or "economic damages" means all damages which are tangible, such as damages for past and future medical expenses, loss of income or earnings and other property loss.
Your case might present others. Here are some to think about for accidents caused by negligence.
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages.
- Lost investment chances.
- Lost or damaged property.
When do I get Economic Damages?
Knowing what economic damages are is important. It’s a critical legal concept in personal injury suits. Yet, more vital is understanding when you can recover for them. That’s a threshold question for filing cases in the first place. We’ve hinted at this answer in previous sections. Now, we want to pull out and highlight some themes.
First, remember that success is a mixture of law and fact. The laws define the game. The facts drive the dynamics within it. Second, remember the elements we outlined above. You need to prove 1) duty 2) breach 3) causation and 4) damages. The defendant will try to disprove the existence of each. You need to be ready to back these up with facts. Third, your own fault plays a part. If it was more than the defendant’s, you won’t recover anything. If it was anything less than half, your economic damages will be reduced by that percent. Finally, it’s always a case by case analysis. These rules generally apply. You should review your case with a lawyer to be sure where and when you might get economic damages. Here are some examples of when plaintiffs got economic damages in negligence suits.
- A drunk driver swerved off the road and hit a bystander. The victim recovered economic damages for medical bills, lost wages, etc.
- A doctor prescribed the wrong meds to a patient. The victim recovered economic damages for new pills, treatment, and missed work.
- A trucker hit a bicyclist in a crosswalk. The biker got economic damages for surgery, missed income, etc.
How do You get Economic Damages?
Obtaining economic damages is part process and part story-telling. Let’s talk about the process first. You need to file your suit within an amount of time. The length is set in Illinois’ statute of limitations. Normally, you’ll have two years from the time of the incident. You could get more time if you didn’t reasonably discover your harms until later. In that case, you’d get two years from when did spot them. When you file, you need to lay out all the case elements, facts, and pertinent parts in your complaint. Work with a lawyer to make sure this document is well done. It’s the foundation of your case. Once it’s timely and effectively filed, your case will start. Then, we shift to the story telling.
You’ll only get economic damages to the extent you can explain them to a jury. This involves a lot of organization and persuasion. True, many of these will be set out in receipts and forms from hospitals and work. Yet, if you only do this, you’ll miss out on future economic damages. This involves a lot projection. Your attorney will need to tell your story. Explain to him/her the total future toll the harms had. Then, he or she can persuade a jury to reward you for future lost income, medical bills, and other tangible losses. This is how you will get the most economic damages out of your suit. Now, we want to give you some info on this category of compensation. We’ll do that in the next section!
Facts About Economic Damages
Here are some stats on economic damages in negligence cases. With accident lawsuits, they’re the foundation of recovery. Victims start here to build their case.
- Biggest awards for economic damages come from nursing home, vehicle, and birth defect lawsuits.
- Medical bills, lost wages, and property theft make up most economic compensation.
- Future economic damages total more than past economic damages in many cases.
- Non-economic damages can double or triple a plaintiff’s economic damages.
- While some states cap non-economic damages, these limits normally don’t apply to economic damages.
4 Factors That Determine Your Economic Damages in Court
How do I estimate my economic damages in negligence cases? There are four factors that can help you answer that question. Review them and see how they compare to your case.
- BILLS. The incident no doubt created a lot of costs for you. You probably had medical bills, transit costs, and other fees. These determine a lot of your economic damages.
- PROFIT. Due to the event and subsequent injuries, you were probably kept from profit-making ventures. You could have missed work, investments, and other things. This factors into the total economic damages calculation.
- PROPERTY. You can claim economic damages for any damaged property. Depending on the type of event and item, this can mean a lot of compensation.
- FUTURE. If you expect any economic damages into the future (i.e. lost wages), you can seek compensation in court. The only caveat being you must be able to clearly prove them.
These factors should guide your estimate. Economic damages play a big part in civil cases. To get a better picture of what yours could look like, give us a call!
How do I Calculate my Economic Damages?
The info thus far has been informative. Yet, it won’t help much if you can’t apply it to your situation. You need to be able to understand these factors. Then, you should use them to calculate what your economic damages could be. It’s a simple four-step process.
First, tally all your receipts. These must be things that directly came from the accident. Note any medical bills, travel fares, work absences, or lost property. Other things can count too. But these are the most common.
Second, project what you will lose economically due to the accident. Think about jobs you’ll miss. Estimate ventures you cannot undertake. Forecast long-term medical care you’ll need. This all comes in.
Third, imagine how long these problems will hamper your life. 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? The length of the burden matters when calculating economic damages.
Finally, sum all the parts. Take the receipts tally and add that to the total, future costs the incident put on you. This will be the final calculation. The answer will be your economic damages. To arrive at a more precise number, work with an experienced lawyer. He or she can give expert advice to guide your calculation.
How can a Lawyer Maximize my Economic Damages?
Qualified counsel can do a lot of things to protect the value of your case. For economic damages, he or she can maximize the amount that you may claim. For instance, your counsel should be the guardian of records. They can gather and itemize all receipts, trips, exams and such. This will build a file log. You can use this to buttress all the economic claims you make later. Also, they can go out and investigate the circumstances of the incident. This will prove the defendant’s negligence-the first step in getting any compensation at all. Third, once in court, your lawyers should use their factual and detail intimacy to persuade a jury of your right to the most damages allowed under the law. That’s why there-to make your case persuasively! Finally, a good lawyer can maximize your economic damages by preventing you from making mistakes. At many points along the legal road, there are traps. Any one of them can sabotage your whole recovery. With a great attorney, they can be avoided.
Resources for Economic Damages
- Example of a law that defines economic damages.
- Example of jury instructions that provide for economic damages.
- Background info on economic damages.
- Info about caps and other issues for economic damages.
Hire a Team That can Protect Your Recovery!
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers fight for personal injury victims and their families. We have seen the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. It will be painful. It will be costly. But you’re entitled to economic damages. We can ensure you get every dollar of them. To hear about how we can help you, call us today. Our team can get to work at once to protect your recovery!
Learn about other damages you can obtain. Read the following articles.