Basic Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
You’ve been injured in a car wreck, and you might be wondering what damages can you claim in a lawsuit? Our team is frequently asked this question.
Pattern Jury Charge 28.3 lays out the basic question a jury will be asked when assessing personal injury damages. They are:
- Physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past.
- Physical pain and mental anguish that, in reasonable probability, the claimant will sustain in the future.
- Loss of earning capacity sustained in the past.
- Loss of earning capacity that, in reasonable probability, the claimant will sustain in the future.
- Disfigurement sustained in the past.
- Disfigurement that, in reasonable probability, the claimant will sustain in the future.
- Physical impairment sustained in the past.
- Physical impairment that, in reasonable probability, the claimant will sustain in the future.
- Medical care expenses incurred in the past.
- Medical care expenses, that in reasonable probability, the claimant will incur in the future.
There are also other damages that can potentially be claimed by an injury to your spouse. Those damages are laid out in Pattern Jury Charge 28.4.
- Loss of Household services sustained in the past.
- Loss of Household services that, in reasonable probability, the spouse, will sustain in the future.
- Loss of consortium sustained in the past.
- Loss of consortium that, in reasonable probability, the spouse will sustain in the future.
While some of these damages listed such as medical care expenses sustained in the past, or medical care expenses that in reasonable probability, the claimant will incur in the future may be self-explanatory, let’s explain the ones that are a bit more confusing.
Physical pain damage calculations are up to the jury. To prove past physical pain, the plaintiff can testify about the pain or introduce other evidence of it. See Hospadales v. McCoy, 513 S.W.3d 724, 742 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, no pet.) The amounts of damages awarded for pain and suffering are necessarily speculative and each case must be judged on its own facts. Emerson Electric Co. v. Johnson, 601 S.W.3d 813 (Tex. App. – Fort Worth 2018).
Mental Anguish is defined as the emotional response of the plaintiff caused by the incident. Birchfield v. Texarkana Memorial Hosp., 747 S.W.2d 361 (Tex. 1987). It also can be defined as emotional pain, torment, and suffering. See generally Pattern Jury Charge. This award of damages can be proven by (1) a substantial disruption in the plaintiff’s daily routine, or (2) evidence of a high degree of mental pain and distress that is more than mere worry, anxiety, vexation, embarrassment, or anger. Bennett v. Grant, 525 S.W.3d 642 (Tex. 2017).
Loss of past earning capacity is defined as the plaintiff’s diminished capacity to earn a living during the period between the injury and the date of trial. Hospadales v. McCoy, 513 S.W.3d 724, 742 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, no pet.). Loss of future earning capacity is the plaintiff’s diminished capacity to earn a living after trial.” Bituminous Cas. Corp. v. Cleveland, 223 S.W.3d 485, 491 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2006, no pet.). “In order to support such a claim, the plaintiff must introduce evidence from which a jury may reasonably measure in monetary terms [her] earning capacity prior to injury.” Bituminous, 223 S.W.3d at 491. A lot of times, our firm will hire an economist, or other type of monetary expert to assist in explaining this claim.
Disfigurement is defined as “that which impairs the beauty, symmetry, or appearance of a person or thing; that which renders unsightly, misshapen, or imperfect, or deforms in some manner.” Hopkins County Hosp. Dist. v. Allen, 760 S.W.2d 341, 343 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 1988, no writ); Rentech Steel, L.L.C. v. Teel, 299 S.W.3d 155 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2009, pet. dismissed).
Physical impairment can be summarized as a loss of enjoyment of life, or not being able to physically do things like you could in the past. See Golden Eagle Archery, Inc. v. Jackson, 116 S.W.3d 757, 772 (Tex. 2003). The measure of damages for physical impairment “is not subject to precise mathematical calculation, each case must be measured by its own facts, and considerable latitude and discretion are vested in the jury. Press Energy Services, LLC v. Ruiz, 650 S.W.3d 23, 55 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2021, no pet.)
When claiming loss of household services of a spouse, the plaintiff must offer evidence of the household services the injured spouse can no longer perform. See Six Flags Over Tex., Inc. v. Parker, 759 S.W.2d 758, 762 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1988, no writ). “Services” refers to the performance of household and domestic duties. Whittlesey v. Miller, 572 S.W.2d 665, 666 n.2 (Tex.1978). These types of services would include cooking, cleaning, and other standard household tasks.
Loss of consortium is based on the loss of love, affection, protection, emotional support, companionship, care, and society that can occur when a family member is injured. See Reagan v. Vaughn, 804 S.W.2d 463, 467 (Tex.1990). A spouse and children can claim loss of consortium. Spousal loss of consortium concerns the emotional and intangible elements of the marriage, including affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, and sexual relations. Reeder v. Allport, 218 S.W.3d 817, 819 (Tex.App.—Beaumont 2007, no pet.).
These are the basic damages you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit. If you have been injured, please give us a call at 214-780-0500.