This article explains how damages are determined and by whom as well as which factors will be taken into consideration in determining the amount of damages you will be awarded in a Tahlequah, Oklahoma personal injury case.
This information will be helpful to you and your Tahlequah attorney when deciding if filing a personal injury case will be ultimately worthwhile.
Who Determines How Much Damages You Will Be Awarded In A Tahlequah Oklahoma Personal Injury Case?
In the vast majority of personal injury cases in Oklahoma, unless the case is being tried to the “bench” (where the judge decides the case), a jury determines if you will be awarded damages and in what amount.
The jury will hear the evidence for and against your claim and with instructions from judge, evaluate the evidence with respect to Oklahoma personal injury law. Then, to the extent that the evidence presented by you and your attorney supports your claim for compensation, the jury will determine how much compensation to award you for your damages.
How Damages Are Determined
The total amount you will be awarded in compensation for your losses will be a sum of two different categories of damages:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Economic damages are damages for which a fixed value can be assigned. These include the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, damage to personal property, etc. These are usually established by bills, records of past wages, estimates, price books, and current market value. To determine the total amount of economic damages, the jury generally needs only to add up the bills, receipts, and estimates.
Non-economic damages are those for which a fixed dollar amount is difficult to assign. These include compensation for pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of the enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. There are losses for which there are no price book or standard formulas to compute. The jury (or judge) must make this determination based on their judgment, opinion, experience, intuition, and values.
Past Losses Vs. Future Losses
Both economic and non-economic damages can then be broken down into two further categories: past losses and future losses. Past losses refer to losses you have incurred up until the time of the trial, damage to property, lost wages, and medical treatment. On the other hand, future losses include factors such as the cost of rehabilitation, ongoing treatment, the loss of future earnings, future pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
The amount of damages that the jury (or judge) will award you will be the sum of both economic and non-economic damages (and punitive damages in some cases), minus your own percentage of liability for the accident in which you were injured. Oklahoma is a comparative fault negligence state, which means that the compensation you are entitled to will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you are found 20% responsible and a second party is 80% responsible, you will be entitled to be reimbursed by the second party for 80% (a 20% reduction) of the damages you have sustained.
For precise info on the value of your personal injury claims, contact an attorney experienced in handling cases to yours.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Personal Injury Lawyer
For a free consultation with a Tahlequah personal injury lawyer, call 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, as always, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page.