Economic damages are damages that can be calculated almost exactly. This category of damages includes:
- Medical, therapeutic and nursing expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages
- Adaptive devices, equipment and technologies (wheelchairs, home modifications)
- Medication (past and future)
It is easier to calculate past damages because there will be a paper trail of invoices, receipts or bills to help prove the cost of those items. Future damages are somewhat more uncertain. A child’s medical team, particularly his pediatrician and pediatric neurologist, will have to determine what medical interventions will likely be necessary in the future.
A life care planner will create a plan based on information from the child’s medical team. That plan will outline all of the economic damages expected to be needed throughout the child’s future life. An economist will then reduce the cost of that plan to present-day value.
Non-economic damages are damages that are more difficult to calculate. Every state has specific items that can be included in non-economic damages. These generally encompass past and future pain, suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, impairment and inconvenience.
Because these items of damage are not grounded in any kind of formulaic calculation, it can be difficult to know what to expect from a judge or jury. Some guidance can be had from past verdicts or settlements in similar jurisdictions, but each case is going to be different. Indeed, each case would be different when placed before a different judge, jury, or even insurance adjuster.
Many states have damage caps for economic damages, non-economic damages, or total damages. These are limits on the two categories of recovery set by legislators. In many states, these types of caps have been overruled as unconstitutional. In states where these caps have withstood challenges, they represent a ceiling on the recoverable verdict or settlement.
There are other factors that influence the value of a claim, but which do not fit in the case value formula.
Attorney experience, reputation and quality
The attorney who represents you and your child will have direct and indirect influences on the value of a birth injury malpractice case. Directly, because that attorney will be putting the case together and collecting evidence and experts to prove the claim. Indirectly, because the insurance companies track attorneys and law firms. They know which attorneys tend to undervalue their cases, which attorneys never go to trial, and which attorneys are able to get solid verdicts from juries. The insurance companies will often offer less money in settlement when going against an attorney with less experience or ability.
Location of case
The venue of a case has a significant impact on the case’s value. Jurors from a rural area are going to evaluate damages, particularly non-economic damages, differently than jurors from an urban area. Insurance adjusters and lawyers keep careful track of settlements and verdicts in various counties, and those past cases can influence settlements in other cases.
Likeability of the parties
The jury will evaluate the defendant medical providers and the plaintiff’s representatives (usually the victim’s parents) to decide whether their story is consistent with the other evidence, and most importantly, whether they are credible. Any hints at lying, cover-ups, or falsehood can cost a party the case. Furthermore, jurors often make snap judgments based on how much they like and empathize with a party. Those feelings can influence their perception of the evidence.
The PECK LAW GROUP specializes in personal injury matters relating to Serious and Catastrophic Injury, Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, Bed Sores, Decubitus Ulcers, and Pressure Sores, Medical Malpractice, Surgery Errors, Traumatic Brain Injury, Birth Injury and Wrongful Death that are determined to be a breach of the standard of care. Our experts and our attorneys have superior knowledge and know how in handling these type of matters from inception to Trial if need be. You will receive superior representation and of course the best possible result based upon our know-how and expertise.
Call us Now. THE PECK LAW GROUP In Southern California at (818) 908-0509; In Northern California at (925) 808-5708; or all across the United States toll-free at (866) 999-9085
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.