What Kind of Damages Can You Sue For?

December 19, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
What Kind of Damages Can You Sue For?

You can sue for two primary kinds of damages: economic and non-economic. These are categories, not specific damages. One common type of economic damage is medical bills, while a common type of non-economic damage is pain and suffering.

A personal injury lawyer will identify all of your recoverable damages. Damages can vary based on your type of injuries, the situation that caused you to suffer damages, and other factors. A Las Vegas personal injury lawyer can create a personalized account of your damages.

Common Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Common types Damages in personal Injury Case

Every victim of negligence has different economic and non-economic damages. However, personal injury attorneys see certain damages often, as there are common themes between their clients’ losses.

Common Economic Damages

Some of the most common economic damages in personal injury cases include:

  • Medical bills: Many who hire a personal injury lawyer do so because of injury or illness. This means that those parties face medical bills. Even when an insurer will cover medical bills, the victim of negligence may face higher premiums. Therefore, it is usually necessary for liable parties to cover healthcare costs.
  • Lost income and other professional damages: Professional damages occur when injuries or illnesses prevent a victim of negligence from working. These damages include lost income, diminished earning power, lost bonuses, and other professional harm.
  • Property expenses: Many victims of negligence have property-related expenses. This can include the repair of damaged property, replacement of property that is beyond repair, the rental of temporary property, and the purchase of new property. 

You may have more economic damages than those listed here. You can never generalize the cost of negligence, as each person’s damages profile differs from the next person’s.

Common Non-Economic Damages

Negligence often takes a toll beyond monetary expenses. Pain and suffering is the most common non-economic damage and can include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidality
  • Immediate pain from injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Other forms of pain, anguish, and psychological distress
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Lost quality of life

Victims of negligence often need help recognizing, diagnosing, and calculating the value of these damages. Again, a lawyer can help. Your attorney may hire a mental health expert to evaluate you, calculate the cost of your treatment, and arrange the care you need.

Damages Caused by a Wrongful Death

Damages Caused by a Wrongful Death

In the most tragic cases, negligence claims the victim’s life. Survivors can have both economic and non-economic damages, which can be devastating in scale.

Recoverable damages in wrongful death cases often include:

  • Survivors’ pain and suffering (including grief)
  • Any pain and suffering the decedent experienced before passing
  • Funeral costs
  • Loss of the decedent’s income through retirement age
  • Loss of the decedent’s contributions to their household
  • Any medical expenses survivors face

Your lawyer will learn who the decedent was. Only then can they explain what you have lost due to their passing. Wrongful death cases often come with a multi-million-dollar valuation, as it is difficult to measure the cost of someone’s life.

There Are Many Different Case Types—Here Are Damages Unique to Each

Personal injury lawyers (and wrongful death lawyers) represent victims of many different accident types. Certain accident types are associated with certain damages, and examples include:

Auto Accidents

Nearly 43,000 people died in traffic accidents in a recent year. Even when someone survives a car accident, truck accident, SUV accident, or motorcycle accident, they may have life-altering injuries.

Property damage is a common type of harm in auto accident cases, with costs including:

  • Repair of the accident victim’s vehicle
  • Replacement of a totaled vehicle
  • Replacement of personal items (like clothing and electronics) damaged during the auto accident
  • Temporary transportation, which can include a rental car or rideshare services

Property expenses alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars. An auto accident victim’s economic and non-economic damages may be quite expensive when paired with medical bills and other damages.

Pedestrian Accidents

Even if you are not in a motor vehicle, drivers can cause you serious injuries. Many cities have major pedestrian populations, especially in downtown areas or entertainment districts. With many people walking and crossing streets, plus possible distracted or impaired drivers, the risk of serious pedestrian collisions is high.

Pedestrians have no safety protections, so their injuries and losses tend to be devastating.

Premises Liability Accidents

Premises Liability I Slip and Fall Accidents

Many accidents and injuries happen due to property hazards on someone else’s premises. You might slip and fall at the grocery store, suffer swimming pool injuries at a casino, or have an electrical accident in a hotel room, among other accidents.

Property-related accidents can cause surprisingly severe injuries, and the costs and intangible losses can overwhelm you. You can hold businesses and property owners liable for your damages.

There is significant overlap between many case types. Medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering are three of the most common damages a lawyer sees. However, no two victims of negligence have the same damages.

Allow a lawyer to evaluate your damages. They will then fight for a settlement or verdict covering all your recoverable damages.

Types of Cases a Personal Injury Lawyer Handles

The damages you suffer may depend, in part, on how the injury happens.

Personal injury attorneys represent victims of negligence, and a lawyer’s practice areas may include:

  • Animal attacks
  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents 
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Trip and fall accidents
  • Premises liability cases
  • Criminal assaults
  • Workplace accidents
  • Boat accidents
  • Defective product cases
  • Environmental toxicity cases (such as exposure to harmful chemicals)

If the circumstances of your case are not on this list, do not assume that a lawyer will not represent you. If someone else has caused you harm, it is worth speaking with personal injury lawyers in your area.

The Value of Each Victim’s Damages Varies, Which Is Why Hiring a Law Is Important

No two victims of negligence have exactly the same damages. Therefore, you cannot determine the value of your damages by looking at previous cases.

One car accident victim and another car accident victim may have vastly different damages (and case values) because:

  • Every victim has different injuries.
  • The severity of injuries varies, as one person’s concussion can be far more severe than another person’s concussion.
  • Every victim of negligence has different psychological and emotional symptoms.
  • The cost of property expenses can vary significantly from case to case.

The details of every case are unique. Having an attorney value your damages is pivotal, as your lawyer will determine the exact value of each economic and non-economic damage. Your attorney will ensure that your settlement demands match the cost of your damages.

The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer When You Suffer Damages

Your lawyer will ensure the accurate valuation of your damages—but this is just one of many benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney.

Also hire an attorney because:

  • Your injuries can be debilitating (or even just limiting): Physical injuries can be debilitating, which is one reason you may seek compensation in the first place. The debilitating nature of your injuries may make it difficult to handle an insurance claim or lawsuit, leading you to hire an attorney. 
  • You have a compromised psychological or emotional state: Auto accidents, falls, and other harmful events can cause immense stress. In some cases, a victim may even have severe conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. These conditions can make it difficult for someone to handle the stress of an insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • You aren’t familiar with insurance claims or lawsuits: You may not have the time, energy, or will to learn about insurance claims. Lawsuits can be even more complex. Rather than try to navigate these processes on your own (from a position of inexperience), you can hire an experienced lawyer to represent you.
  • You must protect your rights: When you deal with insurers and civil defense lawyers, your rights are at risk. When you hire a lawyer, your attorney stands between you and those who want to see your case fail.
  • You aren’t an experienced financial or legal negotiator: Settlement negotiations are when a lawyer can formally obtain money for their client. If you are not an experienced negotiator (as your lawyer will be), you may not be an effective negotiator.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer can also allow you to focus on your recovery. You may have peace of mind, more time to rest, and protection from stress when you trust an attorney to handle your case.

What, Exactly, Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

A personal injury lawyer’s role can vary by the case and client. There are some common responsibilities across most personal injury and wrongful death cases, though, which may include:

Protecting the Client

From the moment you hire your lawyer, they will protect your rights.

They do this by:

  • Handling all communications with insurance representatives
  • Advising their client in all aspects of the case
  • Helping the client craft any written statement they must provide insurance companies
  • Ensuring insurers, liable parties, and civil defense attorneys cannot contact the client

If you do not have a lawyer, you will have to deal directly with those involved in your case. Those parties may twist your words, have you accept fault for your damages, and pressure you to accept an unfair settlement.

Securing All Relevant Evidence

Your attorney will secure any evidence that is relevant to your case. The types of evidence that benefit your case will depend on why you have suffered damages.

In a car accident case, a lawyer generally seeks video footage of the accident. In a defective product case, an attorney may obtain expert testimony that the product manufacturer failed in its duty of care.

Proving the Client’s Damages

Lawyers obtain as much proof of their client’s damages as possible.

This proof may include:

  • All relevant medical records and bills
  • Images of all injuries
  • Invoices related to the victim’s property damage
  • Expert testimony about the client’s recoverable damages
  • Past pay statements proving the client’s lost income

An attorney tailors their approach to the client. If a client has a disability, for example, the lawyer may document the disability with invoices for medical equipment, a doctor’s testimony about the disability, and proof of ramps, handrails, and other changes to the client’s home.

Calculating a Fair Settlement Amount

Each case has a financial value. One of your lawyer’s most important duties will be to calculate the exact financial value of your case.

Calculating the value of a case is a challenging task. Lawyers must account for any future damages their clients experience, which may require complex calculations. Your attorney will handle these calculations for you.

Negotiating a Settlement for the Client

Once your lawyer understands how much money you are entitled to, they will enter settlement negotiations on your behalf.

These negotiations will involve:

  • Presenting evidence of liable parties’ negligence
  • Presenting documentation of your recoverable damages
  • Presenting and explaining their calculation of your damages
  • Making a comprehensive case for liable parties to cover your damages

Your attorney may convince liable parties to pay you fairly. If this happens, that will be the conclusion of your case.

Completing a Trial (When Necessary)

Even when attorneys put forth an effective case during settlement negotiations, liable parties do not always agree to provide a fair settlement. In these cases, trial may be necessary.

Most victims of negligence will not even know where to start when it comes to completing a trial. This is why so many people turn to lawyers, who understand trials well, to represent them.

Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyers Near You Today

When you hire a lawyer, all of your options remain open. Your attorney can negotiate a settlement but is just as capable of going to trial. The credible possibility of taking your case to court will give you more leverage during settlement negotiations.

Find your personal injury lawyers as soon as possible, as they may have a deadline for filing your case. Seek your free, no-obligation case evaluation as soon as possible after an accident and injuries.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.