Personal injury damages encompass economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages mean compensatory damages for pecuniary loss; the Legislature did not intend the term to include exemplary damages or damages for physical pain and mental anguish, loss of consortium, disfigurement, physical impairment, or loss of companionship and society.
At trial, a jury considers what sum of money, if paid now in cash, would “fairly and reasonably compensate” an injured party for his or her injuries, if any, “that resulted from the occurrence in question.”
Economic damages include the following damages:
- Loss of earning capacity sustained in the past;
- Loss of earning capacity that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future;
- Medical care expenses incurred in the past; and
- Medical care expenses that, in reasonable probability, will be incurred in the future.
Proving future medical expenses by “preponderance of the evidence” – meaning the greater weight of the credible evidence adduced at trial – must be supported by competent expert testimony from a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional (e.g., a life care planner).
Non-economic damages include the following damages:
- Physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past;
- Physical pain and mental anguish that, in reasonable probability will be sustained in the future;
- Disfigurement sustained in the past;
- Disfigurement that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future;
- Physical impairment sustained in the past; and
- Physical impairment that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future.
Contrary to what insurers and many defense lawyers argue at trial – that an injured person wants a “reward” simply for being involved in a crash – personal injury damages, rather, are intended to make up for what has been taken from the injured person. The goal of tort law, in other words, is to place the injured party in the same position they would have been had the incident not occurred.
If you have a question about personal injury damages in Texas, please call our office at (979) 823-5555 to discuss your rights.