Interviewer: What factors do you consider in determining losses incurred as a result of an injury?
Reuben J. Donig, Esq.: All right. Well, separate and apart from the issue of liability, in other words, was it somebody else’s fault, generally, I break the losses down into two general categories, economic and non-economic losses or damages. In considering the economic damages, I’m looking at what were the medical expenses that you’ve incurred and how were they paid, and who paid them, and is there still any money owing on those medical expenses? Because it’s not the billed amount from the doctor that you’re entitled to recover from the at-fault party, it’s the amount that was actually what’s called “Incurred,” which means paid and accepted by the doctor or the medical provider as payment in full.
So, we’re looking at that for past medical expenses, and we’re looking at future medical expenses. What medical treatment and procedures are you likely to need in the future, and how long will you need them for, and how much will those cost? And that’s even harder to figure out sometimes because the amount of the cost is hard to project, and whether it will or won’t be covered by insurance is very uncertain, but somehow you have to be able to figure out what are the economic losses for past and future medical expenses. And then what are the economic losses for the amount of time that was missed from work, the past income loss, or the lost possibility of working, or the diminished earning capacity?
If you maybe were self-employed but can no longer do all of the things as before, you might have to change your profession. You might have to take time off, go through retraining, there may be costs involved and associated with that. And when you go back to working in another field, you might have a reduced amount of income or reduced earning capacity. So, those are part of the losses that have to be calculated.
There may also be some other associated costs and factors such as additional living expenses as a result, or you need help that you didn’t need before the accident that you have to pay for. And then there are the factors of the general damages, the non-economic damages, the pain and suffering damages. And what I look for is what kind of things were you doing before that you can no longer do, whether they were fun, recreational, interesting, worthwhile to you. You know, were you playing a musical instrument or a sport that you had to give up that was a major part of your enjoyment of life? Were you able to interact socially with friends and with family, and you had to give that up?
Used to host the big Thanksgiving dinner at your house every year, but you can’t do that anymore. That was a great source of fun. Playing with children, playing with young children, playing with your grandchildren. Have you lost some of that? Have you lost the ability to enjoy intimacy with your spouse? Have you lost the ability to get a good night’s sleep? Are you cranky as a result? Is your health worse? Are you unable to do the things around the house that you used to be able to do or have to do? Whether it’s as mundane as the laundry, or cleaning your kitchen or your bathroom or doing the shopping or washing the dishes, and putting things away. Unable to drive a car because you now have fear.
These are all things which you can’t necessarily say, well, this is how much it cost me, therefore, I’m entitled to get compensation in that amount, but through some rough sense, you have to be able to formulate and put a value on those losses as well. Often, they are the major part. They are even much more substantial than the medical expenses and income loss, and those are called non-economic damages.