Explaining Money Damages
June 4, 2019
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain
Personal Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey
How Can Your Lawyer Help a Jury Decide on Money Damages?
Personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey and medical malpractice lawsuits all have the same goal. The goal is to maximize the amount of money that the negligent defendant will have to pay for the damage caused to the plaintiff. So how do we manage money damages from a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey?
First, we must talk a little about the different kinds of damages.
Loss of Income:
If you are out of pocket as a result of the injury, the jury can be told about the dollar amount lost. If there is an inability to work in the future or a reduced ability to work in the future, the jury can be told about that dollar amount. These losses of past income and future are often called a “boardable loss”. That means that the attorney can write down the number on a board and ask that the jury give you that amount of money.
Medical expenses are another “boardable loss”. Sometimes, the medical treatment will have been covered by car insurance and/or health insurance. However, your health insurance contract might have a clause that makes you reimburse the insurance company for the money already spent on your treatment if you file a lawsuit.
What can drive medical expenses higher is the cost of future care if your injury is going to need future treatment. For example, a fusion in the neck or back puts pressure on other discs that might need surgery in 20 years. That is another expense for which you can make a claim.
Pain and Suffering:
Nearly all personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits involve a claim that the plaintiff suffered conscious pain and conscious suffering from the mistakes of the defendant. This also involves a claim that the pain causes a loss of enjoyment of life.
As an example, if a young lady suffers a herniated disc from being rear-ended in a car accident, it will cause her back pain that will make it harder for her to do things that were once simple, such as carrying groceries from the car.
The law recognizes that a person is entitled to monetary compensation for pain and suffering caused by the negligence of another person or corporation. The law cannot bring you back to the same health you had the day before the negligence. That is why the law allows for compensation to be decided by a dollar amount.
In New York, your lawyer, in closing argument, can suggest a dollar amount as a guide to the jury. That does not happen in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, the lawyer can suggest in Closing Argument that the jury decides on what amount of money would fairly compensate the client for a certain amount of time e.g. one day with a bad back not being able to sit comfortably and having trouble doing simple chores. The lawyer can then suggest that the jury then calculate what the pain would be like for the remainder of the client’s life e.g. if the client has a 35-year life expectancy.