After you suffer an injury, you will experience many types of losses. You may need expensive surgery, medication, and therapy. You could miss out on thousands of dollars in wages while you recover from your injuries.
And your quality of life will suffer as you deal with physical pain and emotional distress.
In Texas, you can pursue all of the losses caused by your injuries. But you will typically handle your economic damages differently than your non-economic damages. As a result, you need to understand how to document and prove your economic losses so you can obtain full and fair compensation.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages, also called special damages, include all the financial losses you incurred due to your accident and injury.
The law awards compensation for economic damages to return you to your pre-injury financial position.
In other words, economic damages simply ensure you do not lose money or go into debt due to your injuries. They are not meant to provide a financial windfall.
Common categories of economic damages include:
- Money you spent
- Debts you incurred
- Income you should have earned but did not
To recover these economic losses, you must show that the damages resulted from your injuries. Causation means the other party’s acts or omissions fell within the causal chain that resulted in the losses. It also means that the party’s negligence could foreseeably produce economic damages.
This does not mean the at-fault party must have foreseen your exact losses. Instead, it means the careless action must be the type that could foreseeably injure someone in your position.
For example, a railroad operator might bear liability if a late-arriving passenger gets pushed onto a train by a conductor. But the railroad might bear no liability to bystanders if the late-arriving passenger drops a package that injures another passenger.
Examples of Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Some examples of economic damages you might incur due to your accident include:
You can recover money for the past medical expenses you incurred. Your compensation covers these expenses whether you paid them or were billed for them. The main wrinkle with medical costs comes when your health insurer pays your medical costs.
You are typically entitled to reimbursement for your out-of-pocket expenses for obtaining medical care.
These expenses might include:
- Over-the-counter medications and supplies
But your health insurer may seek reimbursement for the amounts it spent on your care. For example, if you needed an emergency room visit that cost $5,000 and paid a copay of $100 while your insurer paid $4,900, your insurer may place a lien against your case to recover its $4,900 from your settlement or damage award.
You can also get compensation for future medical expenses. To recover these expenses, you will probably need an expert witness to testify about any surgery, medication, and physical therapy you will require in the future due to your injuries.
You can get compensated for any income you should have earned but did not due to your injuries. The reason for your income losses must relate to your injuries.
Some reasons that you can give include the following:
- Bed rest that was reasonable based on your injuries
- Light duty ordered by a doctor
- Medical appointments to obtain necessary examinations and treatment
- Recovery time from reasonable and necessary medical procedures
You will typically prove these losses using income records from your employer. These records will show your pay rate and the amount of time you missed
Diminished Earning Capacity
If your injuries cause long-term disabilities, you might need to change jobs or even quit working. For example, a brain or spinal cord injury could leave you with physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities that interfere with your ability to do your pre-injury job.
You can seek compensation for the difference in your pre-injury and post-injury income. Thus, suppose that you injured your back in a car accident. After the accident, you cannot continue your work as a restaurant server, so you quit your job and become a rideshare driver.
If your earnings drop from $800 to $600 per week, you can include the $200 difference in your economic losses. Importantly, an insurance adjuster or jury will calculate your total losses based on the years remaining in your work life. So if you were injured in your 40s, you would argue for 20 years’ worth of earnings losses.
How a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Obtains Compensation for Economic Damages
A Texas personal injury attorney’s role in obtaining economic damages includes proving negligence and documenting your losses.
This means you will have a long discussion with your lawyer about the money you spent and the debt you incurred due to your injuries. Your lawyer will also talk to your doctor about the future treatment you will need.
You will work with your lawyer to collect records to prove your economic losses. You will need to collect financial records such as receipts, bank statements, and medical bills.