If you have been injured in an auto collision in Oregon or Washington, you have a right to seek compensation. Each State categorizes the types of compensation you may recover, and this article summarizes common issues. Generally, the type of compensation you may recover an each State is the same, it is really the names that are applied to each kind of compensation that differs. Here is a primer.
First, we should get the definitions out of the way. Lawyers like to use the word "damages." Damages refers to the things that you had to spend money on, or the money that you lost as a result of your injury. Each State puts the damages in certain categories. Let's start with Oregon.
Oregon refers to damages as "economic damages," and "noneconomic damages." Economic damages are those things that are verifiable, like medical expenses and lost wages. Typically, there are records or bills that will verify the value of the loss. Sometimes, an expert opinion is required to prove economic damages.
Economic damages could be those damages that you have already suffered, or it could be things that you will need in the future. For example, if somebody suffers a life changing or catastrophic injury, there is a strong chance they will require future medical care. If a medical expert is able to quantify and described the kind of care you will need in the future, that can be made part of your claim. This is also true for lost income. If your injury caused you to change occupations, or has disabled you, you may have a claim for your future lost income, or your future lost earning capacity. Again, chances are that experts will have to come in, look at your case, and quantify your loss.
"Non-economic damages" refer to the types of losses that are not easily quantified, and cannot be objectively verified. The jury instructions given to Oregon jury's describes these kinds of damages or losses as subjective, and non-monetary. People are familiar with the term "pain and suffering." The fact is, this is only one part of the non-economic damage picture. There is also compensation for the loss of ability to engage in certain activities, and the loss of enjoyment of life. We like to refer to this type of damage as compensation for the loss of your health.
Just like economic damages, you may be entitled to compensation for your future non-economic damages. If your physician feels that you have some permanent impairment as a result of your injury, and that you will not be able to engage in activities the same way, or will just have to give up certain activities altogether, then you may have a claim for future non-economic damages. If the jury is called upon to review this part of the claim, it can consider the average lifespan for a person of your gender and race to determine the value of non-economic damages.
Washington law is essentially the same, but gives each category of damages a different name. The objective damages are referred to as "special damages," and the damages for loss of health are referred to as "general damages." Essentially, Washington juries would look at the same issues to determine both categories of damage.
If you have questions about the kind of damages or losses you can claim as a result of your injury, give us a call at 503-325-8600. We answer these questions all the time, and are happy to speak with you.