Damages Awarded in Wisconsin Personal Injury Cases
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on June 7, 2017 in Personal Injury
When you are injured because of another’s negligence, you can seek compensation from the at-fault party by filing a personal injury claim.
Personal injury encompasses several categories of negligence claims. Each state imposes its own statutes and limitations on various personal injury claims and the damages a victim can be awarded.
This article will help guide you through the damages you may be awarded in a Wisconsin personal injury claim. If you need legal help with your injury claim, contact PKSD’s Milwaukee personal injury attorneys for a free consultation.
Compensatory damages are intended as compensation for the victim who has suffered significant loss because of an injury caused by another’s negligence.
These damages are designed to help you recover from an injury you suffered and represent your actual loss that resulted from the accident.
Courts will often use the terms “economic damages” and “noneconomic damages” when referring to the types of compensatory damages a victim can be awarded.
Economic damages are awarded as compensation for the measurable losses you suffered during your accident, such as property damages, medical expenses and lost wages.
These are damages that contain a precise monetary value that can be identified by a court using financial records and receipts.
Medical treatment is usually well-documented by hospitals and healthcare providers, making it easily compensable by the court.
Medical expenses often identified in personal injury claims include:
- Emergency room visits
- Lab tests
- Primary or specialist visits
- Prescription and over-the-counter medication costs
In most personal injury claims, you are entitled to recover the entirety of compensation for your medical expenses regardless of whether an insurer paid for a portion of your bill.
However, our personal injury attorneys may find an opportunity to maximize damages for your medical expenses.
We will consult highly regarded medical practitioners to determine if your injury puts you at risk for future physical harm or worsened conditions. We may be able to use this information to recover compensation for future treatments and medical care.
Compensation for property damages is often awarded if your personal property was damaged by the at-fault party, such as vehicle damage in a Milwaukee car accident.
Property damage is usually awarded in the amount it would take to repair or replace the item, depending on its ability to function after the incident. If your vehicle was damaged, we advise you to visit an appraiser or mechanic before filing a claim for property loss.
If the item of personal property was damaged beyond repair and is considered lost, you can list the item’s fair market value or its cash value.
The fair market value is an amount that you and the at-fault party both agree is a fair price for the item. An actual cash value is the cost of replacing an insured property, minus the depreciation of age.
Unfortunately, personal injury victims are often unable to perform routine actions, such as their job’s required duties.
If you are unable to work or fully perform the responsibilities of your occupation, you may be able to obtain compensation for lost wages.
This includes compensation for any time you were absent from work due to your injury or your recovery from medical treatment.
Lost wages can also include a loss of income if you are unable to work and earn a living due to your injury’s physical restrictions.
Noneconomic damages include the intangible losses you suffered because of your injury or condition.
Since these damages cannot be physically documented or measured by a specific value, they cannot be listed in an insurance claim and are only recoverable through a personal injury lawsuit.
Pain and Suffering
Although pain and suffering is a common element seen in personal injury lawsuits, these conditions are often difficult to define.
Our personal injury lawyers can help you identify several characteristics of pain and suffering you might have endured because of your injury, such as:
- Physical agony or discomfort
- Psychological trauma
Many victims who suffered an injury after a serious accident experience emotional distress. This can include lingering trauma caused by witnessing or being involved in a shocking event that significantly affects your life for an extended period after the incident.
If you file damages for emotional distress in a personal injury lawsuit, at least one of the following elements must apply to your claim:
- You were physically injured
- You were a direct witness or arrived upon a scene shortly after an accident
- You were in a vicinity that threatened your physical well-being when the accident took place and almost became a victim.
- You were physically affected by the event even if you were not injured
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
A debilitating injury can affect every aspect of your life and may prevent you from enjoying activities or hobbies you once enjoyed.
This may enable you to explore the option of filing damages for loss of enjoyment of life through a personal injury lawsuit.
Loss of enjoyment of life is similar to damages for pain and suffering, but examines the long-term effects your injury will cause. These damages are meant as compensation for:
- Decreased life expectancy
- Poor health
- Inconvenience from lost limbs
- Loss of one or more of the senses
- Inability to participate in past activities you once enjoyed
- Inability to participate in life’s pleasures
Lost Earning Capacity
A serious injury may prevent you from working either temporarily or permanently. If your injury prevents you from earning an income, you may be able to pursue damages for lost earning capacity.
This is compensation for the past and future income you would have earned had you not been injured. Typically, lost earning capacity compensates you for the time you were prevented from working. If the injury is minor, these damages could amount to the total of your regular paycheck.
However, if you suffered a long-term or permanent disability, your lost earning capacity would increase significantly and you could file for a higher amount of damages.
The amount of damages you may be entitled will depend on the financial situation you face after your injury and the type of employment you are able to obtain.
We will factor in any loss of income, decrease in wages, reduction of hours or duties of your employment, or your inability to gain employment to determine an amount of compensation that accurately depicts your condition.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium refers to the damage your injury has caused on your personal and intimate relationships with your family, spouse and loved ones.
Depending on the circumstances of your claim, loss of consortium may provide compensation for the following:
- Loss of intimacy
- Loss of love
- Loss of companionship
- Inability to perform marital services
- Inability to care for your children
- Incapacity to perform routine maintenance
- Inability to show or display affection
These damages, however, are rare and are typically reserved for injuries that result in severe disability or disfigurement.
You must also be able to prove your injury has significantly damaged your personal or intimate relationship with a spouse or partner. This will typically require those who have been affected by the changes your injury has caused to testify on your behalf and support your claim.
Nominal damages is a small monetary award intended as compensation for any wrongdoing you endured.
You do not have to be severely injured for the court to award you nominal damages. Instead, it is meant as an acknowledgement that the at-fault party invaded your rights or breached his or her duty.
Punitive damages are awarded in personal injury cases for instances of extreme negligence, maliciousness or reckless disregard for human life.
These are not meant as a form of compensation for the victim, but are rather intended as a form of monetary punishment to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar behavior.
Many states have laws that restrict the amount of punitive damages a court is allowed to award. Under WI Stat § 895.043, Wisconsin has established a standard the defendant must meet for punitive damages to be awarded:
- The grievousness of the defendant’s actions
- The degree of malicious intent
- The potential damages that might have been caused by the act
- The defendant’s ability to pay
If punitive damages are allowed in your case, you may only receive an amount that is three times the damages you have suffered.
You are also limited to recovering no more than twice the compensatory damages you are awarded, or $200,000, whichever amount is greater. You must be able to prove your allegations that punitive damages are warranted in your case. This means you need to have evidence that shows the defendant acted with malicious intent.
You will also need to show that the defendant has the wealth and resources to pay the amount of punitive damages decided by the court.
Damage Caps for Medical Malpractice Personal Injury Cases
If you were injured because of a negligent medical practitioner and have filed a medical malpractice claim in Wisconsin, the possible damages you can recover are limited.
In Wisconsin, WI Stat § 893.55 restricts the noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice case to $750,000.
However, this limitation is placed only on the pain and suffering you may have endured because of your injury. Your medical malpractice claim can still list compensation for lost wages and medical expenses to recover from your injury.
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in Milwaukee
At PKSD, our personal injury team has decades of combined experience and has recovered millions in verdicts and settlements for our clients.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation to review your claim. We will determine if you have a case that entitles compensation. Our attorneys work only on a contingency fee basis, which means our legal services come at no upfront cost. We only require payment if we recover damages for your claim.