Elements of Damages in Injury Cases

Elements of Damages in Injury Cases

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At Casper & de Toledo we work diligently to develop our clients’ claims within the boundaries established by law. Claims for physical injuries, whether caused in a car accident, by a defective product, or as the result of medical malpractice, must have damages substantiated.

Determining the proper compensation you are due because of damages in a personal injury case is a complex process that requires a skilled attorney. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Casper & de Toledo to schedule a free consultation.

Types of Damages Recognized by Connecticut Law

Economic damages are actual financial losses suffered by the claimant including past and future medical expenses, the cost of care (particularly relevant for someone with a catastrophic or traumatic brain or spinal cord injury), lost wages, and the loss of earning capacity. In a case involving a catastrophic injury, such as those resulting from a serious car accident, the lawyers of Casper & de Toledo in Connecticut will hire a life care planner. This individual will be an expert who is specially trained to ascertain the future needs of the injured person and the cost to meet such needs.

In the case of someone whose injury has caused a reduction or even destruction of the ability to maintain employment, Casper & de Toledo will employ a vocational expert to determine the claimant’s work capacity as it would have existed prior to the injury and compare it to the current earning capacity. Taking future medical expenses and lost earning capacity into account, an economist will determine the number of hypothetical funds that have been lost.

Non-economic damages, which are not as easily determined as economic damages, generally include all of those things that affect the quality of life. Non-economic damages may include:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Disruption of the enjoyment of hobbies, recreation, social and family activities
  • Loss of ability to carry on an intimate relationship
  • Scarring, disfigurement, and disability or impairment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Resulting from Motor Vehicle Crashes or Medical Malpractice

We are all so different in our emotional makeup. Consider that one person will be in a horrendous car crash or will be driven off of the road by a semi-truck and trailer (truck accident), or another person will undergo abdominal surgery and have his/her colon mistakenly perforated with resulting fecal soilage and the need for repeat surgery when he/she becomes septic and the infection threatens to kill her. How do we explain why one person experiences a psychiatric reaction to the trauma known as post-traumatic stress disorder and the next person does not?

The illness first captured our attention during the Vietnam War, but war experiences are not the only events that can trigger PTSD. It is diagnosed in a wide variety of traumatic episodes from rape and incest, to war, to vehicle crashes, to terrorist attacks and kidnappings, to visual disturbances from dramatic events involving serious injury to others.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD can be a textbook diagnosis from the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Criteria involve the person experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that involved that actual death or serious injury or threat to the physical integrity of one’s self or others and the person’s responses manifesting an intense fear, helplessness, or horror. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event;
  2. Recurrent distressing dreams of the event;
  3. Acting or feeling that the traumatic event was recurring;
  4. Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event;
  5. Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

Also, there must be persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and the numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three or more of the following:

  1. Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma;
  2. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollection of the trauma;
  3. Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma;
  4. Marked diminished interest or participation in significant activities;
  5. Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others;
  6. Restricted range of effect;
  7. Sense of foreshortened future.

PTSD is also characterized by persistent symptoms of increased arousal, not previously present, as indicated by two or more of the following:

  1. Difficulty falling or staying asleep;
  2. Irritability or outbursts of anger;
  3. Difficulty concentrating;
  4. Hyper-vigilance;
  5. Exaggerated, startled response.

The duration of PTSD is thought to last for longer than one month. The disorder causes clinically significant distress or impairment in occupational, social, or other important areas of functioning. PTSD is considered “Acute” if the duration of the symptoms last three months or less and “Chronic” if the symptoms last more than three months. It is recognized that the onset of symptoms at six months or more after exposure to the stressor will carry a diagnosis of PTSD with Delayed Onset.

Not every person exposed to the same stressor will develop full-blown or even minor PTSD. The course of the illness can vary with some people recovering within four to six months. Some patients do not recover.

Find the Help You Need Today

If it is suspected that you or a loved one is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, it is imperative that the patient receives appropriate psychotherapy, and in some cases, medication as soon as possible.

Injuries and damages are very individualized, and thus there is no magic formula for determining the amount that a given claimant should receive. Appropriately, there are no caps on either economic or non-economic damages, except the instruction that Connecticut juries are given that damages should be fair, just, and reasonable. Please contact us.

Can Traumatic Brain Injuries Trigger PTSD?

There is some debate about whether a person who sustains a traumatic brain injury can suffer from PTSD. One argument is that if the person loses consciousness, then there isn’t a traumatic event to witness. The more persuasive literature supports the existence of PTSD in the context of a traumatic brain injury. Many TBI claims involve an altered state of consciousness with some memory for the events. There is also evidence that the post-loss of consciousness exposure to events surrounding the trauma may produce a full-blown PTSD.

The Use of Demonstrative Aids

Demonstrative exhibits are created by or at the request of trial lawyers at Casper & de Toledo to underscore the significant medical treatment and pain experienced by an injured client. These exhibits are invaluable not only at the time of trial but also during the pre-trial settlement process.

There are several other examples of demonstrative evidence or aides dealing with damages used by our lawyers at Casper & de Toledo throughout this website. See our verdicts and settlements summaries. You can also view exhibits that have been used in Traumatic Brain Injury cases and Spinal Cord Injuries.

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If you think that you are due damages because of personal injury, contact the attorneys of Casper & de Toledo in Stamford, Connecticut to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.