What Are “Future Damages” And How Are They Calculated In An Injury Case?

attorney sitting at his desk with books and notesIn the civil justice system, damages are available to a plaintiff who proves that a defendant has committed a wrong against them. The civil justice system is different than the criminal justice system, as it is concerned with the law of contracts and torts. There are many types of damages available, depending on the nature and ramifications of the wrong having been committed by a defendant against a plaintiff. Future damages are one example.

In the personal injury context, future damages may be awarded when there exists a reasonable apprehension of a loss or injury in the future due to a negligent or intentionally wrongful act or omission by a defendant. When such a reasonable apprehension exists, there is a satisfactory basis for future damages.

Future Damages Require Careful Calculation

In the personal injury context, some damages are easier to calculate than others. Take, for example, the all too common car accident. If you injured while driving as a result of the negligent or reckless driving of another driver, most of the damages you will be seeking will be compensatory in nature. In other words, they are intended to compensate you for the injuries and losses you have sustained as a result of the other driver’s negligence, recklessness, or intentionally wrongful conduct. You will have had to receive medical treatment for your injuries, and repairs for damage to your vehicle. It is also very likely that you will have had to miss work while recovering from your injuries, and lost income or missed out on income-generating opportunities as a result.

Compensatory damages put the money back in your pocket that a defendant’s wrongful conduct took out. But what about the future? Will you have ongoing medical treatment? Did you sustain injuries that won’t fully heal? Did the accident take something away from you that you can’t get back? If these are relevant questions to your personal injury situation, then you may be entitled to future damages. When your present injuries will continue to injure you in the future, future damages are there to compensate you.

Expert Testimony Is Often Required To Prove Future Damages

There exists a fear that future damages will be inflated – that the injuries forecasted are speculative in nature and thus generate an excessive award. Because of this concern, expert testimony is often required to lend credence to a future damages forecast.

In the personal injury context, expert witnesses commonly include doctors and therapists. These healthcare professionals will first explain how long your injuries are likely to last. While a broken arm may heal, other injuries, especially those that involve the head, neck, and spine, may not. As a result, you may not be able to continue working your job at all, or at least not in the same way you did prior to accident. If this is the case, you may not be able to earn the income you did before the accident, or to progress in your field on the same path you were on prior to the accident. These adverse effects of an accident can be measured objectively, thanks to the expert testimony of your doctor and employer. They are not the only ill effects, however. In addition to a diminished capacity to earn income, you may experience ongoing physical pain and suffering from the injuries you have sustained, as well as continuing mental distress. Future damages are intended to compensate for every valid future injury or loss you will sustain – the medical bills, the lost earnings, the physical pain, the mental anguish – everything.

An Economist Expert Witness Can Illustrate Divergent Employment Trajectories

If you sustained injuries that impact your very ability to do your job, an economist expert witness will be able to illustrate how your post-accident career prospects diverged from your pre-accident career prospects. If you are a construction worker, you likely need strong legs and arms and a healthy back to do your work. If you are a heart surgeon or a concert violinist, everything depends on your hands functioning perfectly. If you are a dancer, you must depend on your feet, legs, and overall equilibrium. If an accident has jeopardized any of these skills, your future has likely changed. An expert witness who is an economist will be able to illustrate this divergence, thereby establishing a basis for an award of future damages.

What To Do If Your Future Has Been Compromised By Injuries Sustained Due To Another’s Wrongful Conduct

If your future has been adversely affected by injuries sustained as the result of the wrongful conduct of another, it is imperative that you reach out to a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will explain your legal options, and work to obtain the compensation you need and deserve for both your present and future.