How Are Damages Determined? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How Are Damages Determined?

To bear responsibility for injury to others, your negligent action (or failure to act in certain situations) must be the proximate cause of the injury without any intervening causes interrupting the natural sequence of events.

Once the first three elements of a tort (duty, breach, and causation) have been established, it is then a matter of determining the amount of damages suffered so that an injured party can be compensated for the damages sustained as a result of the tortfeasor's act or omission (a "tortfeasor" is the person who breached his/her duty which caused damages).

Some common "damages" that a person may suffer include:

  • Medical expenses - such as doctors fees and hospitalization costs
  • Rehabilitation therapy - the cost of obtaining services provided by others who assist a person to return to the same or similar physical condition s/he was in prior to the negligent act or omission. This could include training for a new occupation if the injury prevents the injured party from working in his/her normal trade or occupation
  • Lost wages - wages and earnings which would have been earned by the injured party but for the negligence of the tortfeasor
  • Pain and suffering - compensation for the hurt that an injured party is caused to endure as a result of the negligence of the tortfeasor. (There are some "rules of thumb" that often involves a multiple of medical expenses and rehabilitation therapy - i.e. - three times medical and rehabilitation expenses.)
  • Punitive damages - assessed against reckless or irresponsible behavior to prevent such behavior from the tortfeasor in the future and to deter others from acting in a similar manner.

In many personal injury lawsuits, expert witnesses are retained to assist in determining the amount of damages sustained by an injured party and to present this evidence to a jury.

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