My clients often ask me what they can recover in a lawsuit? The answer to this quesiton like so many other legal questions is not simple. It depends on a whole host of factors. Some of our clients have tragically lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of somebody else. The type of recovery in a wrongful death action varies from the type of recovery for an action when somebody suffers injury and fortunately survives. Also, just who may recover for harm which occurs when somebody suffers an injuyr? Once again the answer to this quesiton varies depending on such factors as the type of conduct, the nature of the harm, the nature of the relationship with the injured person, and whether somebody has had to endure the trauma of a death of parent or a child. Unfortunately, because the answers to these questions vary so much, I cannot possibly give an adequate response to this type of question here which would easily apply to all circumstances. However, read on for some general perspects on what types of damages are generally recoverable and who may present such claims.
Arizona jury instructions provide guidance about what types of damages are recoverable for somebody who suffers injuries as a result of the wrongful conduct of another. However these types of damages most certainly vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. Also, keep in mind that although evidence may be presented on any particular element of damage, a jury may not necessarily award damages in whole or in part for any or all of these factors. According to revised Arizona jury instructions concerning the measure of damages, an injured party may present evidence of the following elements of damages:
1. The nature, extent and duration of the injury.
2. The pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future as a result of the injury.
3. Reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, treatment, and services rendered, and reaonably probable to be incurred in the future.
4. Lost earnings to date, and any decrease in earning power or capacity in the future.
5. Loss of love, care, affection, companionship, and other pleasures of the [marital] [family] relationship.
6. Loss of enjoyment of life, that is, the participation in life’s activities to the quality and extent normally enjoyed before the injury.
These general elements can provide a helpful roadmap for people who have been injured. Please keep in mind, however, that factors vary by claim and juries interpret these factors differently from case to case. Also, the elements can vary if somebody does not have a permanent injury or any expected future medical expenses. The elements and people who may recover varies if somebody is single versus married. Also, even after evaluating recoverable losses according to these elements, an injured person must still consider the concepts of comparative fault. Comparative fault in Arizona reduces overall recoverable damages by an injured party. For example, somebody who suffers injuries in a car accident and presents evidence of each element of damages described above may nevertheless see their damage claims reduced substantially if he or she did not wear a seatbelt and jury finds that their injuries would have been prevented or minimized had they worn a safety belt.
The types of damages recoverable for the loss of a loved one vary as well. Once again, Arizona jury instructions provide some guidance for this type of claim. A spouse, child or parent who lost a loved one may recover the following types of damages proven by the evidence:
1. The loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance since the death and in the future.
2. The pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock, and mental suffering already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future.
3. The income and services that have already been lost as a result of the death, and that are reasonably probable to be lost in the future.
4. The reasonable expenses of funeral and burial.
5. The reasonable expenses of necessary medical care and services for the injury that resulted in the death.
A loss of a loved one presents a whole host of tragic consequences and a unfortunately a jury cannot return a parent, spouse or child back to his or her family; no amount of money will ever bring back a loved one. These types of damages are highly personal and vary dramatically depending upon the victim, age, and any possible comparative fault issues.
When we meet with clients to discuss a particular case, as you can see, the discussion about recoverable damages varies. I just touched on a few brief issues here. Hopefully these brief comments can give you a better idea about what happens in our system of justice. Our web site contains some additional information about damages and we present different topics and other perspectives on recoverable damages in personal injury matters. Feel free to take a look. The bottom line is simple. If you have suffered a loss due to the conduct of another and are considering your legal options, consider discussing your case with a legal professional.