A critical component of any personal injury case involves the presentation of damages. Damages, in the context of an injury case, are those losses a person incurs upon being injured by another person. Literally, everyone who has come into our Las Vegas office having suffered an injury as the result of someone else’s negligence tries to decide whether to bring a lawsuit and asks the same question: “What is my case worth?” Therefore, it is important for Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to formulate a thoughtful answer by carefully assessing the personal injury damages in the case. Assessing damages requires all competent Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to consider a number of factors when determining the worthiness and provability of the damages in each potential case. Cases come in all sizes. Some cases are not worth enough to make a lawsuit worthwhile, while others involve enormous potential damage awards. There are three basic types of personal injury damages that all Las Vegas personal injury attorneys who consider bringing an injury lawsuit in Clark County should thoroughly understand and know how to present in court.
A fundamental rule pertaining to medical expenses is that an injured party may recover money damages for all medical care he has already received. An injured party may also receive compensation for all medical expenses he can show to the jury that he is reasonably certain to incur in the future as the result of the accident. All Las Vegas personal injury attorneys who try injury cases must present evidence that persuades the jury that the amount of compensation sought by the plaintiff for medical care is reasonable and fair.
Often, this is a hotly-disputed part of a case. Defense attorneys frequently seek to establish that the plaintiff’s care was unnecessary and that he is malingering (i.e., faking) in an attempt to achieve a larger payday. This obnoxious defense tactic sometimes works, so it is important that the plaintiff’s attorney proves to the arbitrator or jury deciding the case that the injury was related to the accident and that the plaintiff’s treatment was reasonable and necessary. It bears repeating that it is absolutely essential that medical damages be proven as necessarily incurred as of the result of defendant’s careless or negligent conduct. Recent trial results in Clark County reveal that some overconfident Las Vegas personal injury attorneys have lost very-provable cases because they did not properly present the medical damages portion of the case. One should never inadequately present this portion of the case-in-chief.
Loss of Earnings of Earning Capacity
An injured party may also recover for lost wages and diminished or lost earning capacity incurred as the result of a defendant’s negligent conduct. Lost wages are those wages lost for the time period that the plaintiff is unable to work because of injuries related to the defendant’s conduct. Past lost wages run from the time the defendant causes the injury until the time of trial. Future lost wages run from the time of trial onward until the jury believes the evidence shows that the plaintiff will be able to return to work. As with medical expenses, Counsel must present evidence of the loss of past and future wages and diminished earning capacity to the jury in such a way that the jury believes the plaintiff is reasonably certain to have sustained such losses and to sustain such losses in the future. In other words, Las Vegas personal injury attorneys who competently present such claims will do so in a manner that persuades the jury that the numbers requested are shown to be reasonably certain. This requires the skillful and effective presentation of evidence. Expert witnesses frequently are instrumental in presenting this portion of a damages presentation.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are slightly different than other types of injury damages. The law in Nevada does not provide a definite standard by which a jury determines an award for pain and suffering. Rather, the jury is charged to “exercise their authority with calm and reasonable judgment.” The extent of what exactly that means has been the subject of litigation in numerous Clark County personal injury cases. Simply put, the law is that damages for pain and suffering in Nevada are very much the province of the jury. Judges may not disturb a jury’s damage award unless it is “flagrantly improper.” Obviously, that is a hard standard for a defense lawyer to meet. To establish that a pain and suffering award is “flagrantly improper,” a defense lawyer must be able to point to specific instances that show the jury made its pain and suffering award under the influence of passion, prejudice, or corruption.
When so many types of personal injury damages rely heavily upon more concrete types of evidence, it is often confusing for laymen to understand why pain and suffering awards can be based on arguably less-tangible forms of proof. This is because, by their very nature, pain and suffering awards are, in the Nevada Supreme Court’s words, “wholly subjective.” That is not to say they are based on flimsy evidence, but rather on the reasonable personal considerations of the jury as a whole. In this area, in particular, it is essential that Las Vegas personal injury attorneys seeking to prove pain and suffering awards that survive on appeal present strong evidentiary reasons to support a pain and suffering award. By carefully avoiding any arguments that could be construed as improperly invoking the prejudices or passions of the jury, Las Vegas personal injury attorneys can do their best to ensure that any pain and suffering award rendered not be overturned on appeal.
Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorneys – Your Choice Makes A Difference
The three areas above are not exhaustive of the damages a personal injury plaintiff may seek to recover. There are other types of damages that skillful Las Vegas personal injury attorneys frequently use. What is important is that an injured plaintiff make sure that any injury lawyer he chooses to handle his case be well-versed and have substantial expertise in the area of presenting damages at trial. Many trial lawyers spend far too much time on other areas of their cases and find themselves sorely disappointed when a jury returns a verdict that is far less than the true value of the case. Choose carefully and insist that any lawyer you choose to be up to the task of skillfully and persuasively presenting the damages portion of your personal injury case. It might make all the difference.