Personal injury claims cases have become increasingly common, with more and more individuals seeking compensation for injuries suffered due to the negligence or intentional actions of others.

On  June 25, 2009, the world woke up to the sudden death of Michael Jackson. After an extensive autopsy, it was concluded his death resulted from an overdose of various drugs in his system, including Propofol administered by his physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. 

Dr. Conrad Murray routinely administered Propofol, a powerful anesthetic used in surgery, to help him sleep. In 2011, Dr. Murray was arrested for gross negligence and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Overview of Personal Injury Damages 

Personal injury damages are the monetary compensation awarded to someone who has suffered physical, emotional, or psychological harm due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. 

These damages are intended to help the injured person recover from their losses and resume their daily lives as best they can. The types of personal injury damages awarded in a civil lawsuit depend on the circumstances of the case. 

Television host Ed McMahon fell and fractured his neck in his Los Angeles home. After visiting Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the following day, the doctors failed to diagnose his fracture and discharged him without conducting an X-ray or delving deeper into the issue. 

Later, when the hospital discovered the issue, McMahon had to undergo two spine surgeries to rectify the damage. McMahon initiated a lawsuit against the hospital and the orthopedic surgeon, alleging they failed to accurately diagnose his neck fracture. 

Some common categories of damages include:

Iowa has a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The cap is currently $1,821,000 for claims filed on or after July 1, 2021. However, there is no cap on non-economic damages for other types of personal injury cases.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit to cover the losses or damages suffered as a result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct. 

In Iowa, the two types of compensatory damages the court can award include;

1. Economic Damages

Economic damages are the quantifiable financial losses a plaintiff has suffered as a direct result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct.  Anthony Blume sustained a broken neck in three places and was unable to work after a Philadelphia police officer ran a red light and collided with him. As a result, Blume had to vacate his home and relocate to a boarding house to avoid eviction due to financial constraints.

A jury awarded Blume almost $2.7 million for the pain he endured, despite the state having a limit of $500,000. Anthony and his lawyers are working to find a way to get the compensation he deserves. 

Economic damages that may be sought in a personal injury claim can include the following:

  • Medical expenses: These include medical treatment, hospitalization, rehabilitation, medication, and other related costs.
  • Lost income: Iowa law allows for the recovery of lost wages even if the injured party is entitled to other benefits such as sick leave, vacation pay, or disability benefits.
  • Loss of earning capacity: If the injuries sustained in the accident have reduced the person’s ability to earn a living in the future, they may be entitled to compensation for this loss.
  • Property damage: If the accident caused damage to the person’s property, such as their car, they might be able to seek compensation for repairing or replacing it.
  • Other expenses: This compensation may include any additional fees directly related to the injury, such as the cost of hiring someone to help with household chores or childcare.

There are certain procedural requirements that must be met to recover damages. It’s vital to consult with an experienced Des Moines car accident attorney who is familiar with Iowa law to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

2. Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate an injured party for harm that cannot be easily quantified financially. Examples of non-economic damages that may be awarded in a personal injury case include:

  • Pain and suffering are the physical and emotional pain, discomfort, and inconvenience an injured party has experienced due to their injuries.
  • Emotional distress is the psychological harm an injured party has suffered due to their injuries, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Loss of enjoyment of life refers to the loss of ability to engage in activities an injured party previously enjoyed, such as sports, hobbies, or spending time with family and friends.
  • Disfigurement or scarring is the physical disfigurement or scarring an injured party has suffered due to their injuries.
  • Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship, affection, or sexual relations an injured party’s spouse or partner has suffered because of the injury.

Iowa law requires the jury to consider the injury’s severity, duration, and effect on the victim’s life when determining the amount of non-economic damages to be awarded.

Non-Compensatory Damages

Non-compensatory damages, also known as punitive or exemplary damages, are designed to punish the at-fault party for their wrongful conduct and deter them and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future. 

Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $2.1 billion in punitive damages in a talcum powder case in Missouri. The case involved 22 women who claimed Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. In 2018, a jury awarded the women $4.7 billion in compensatory damages, but the award was reduced in 2021 to $2.1 billion on appeal.

To be awarded punitive damages in Iowa, the injured party must prove with evidence the at-fault party acted consciously, disregarding the safety or well-being of others. The punitive damages award was intended to punish Johnson & Johnson for what the jury found to be “reprehensible conduct” in failing to warn consumers of the potential health risks associated with its talcum powder products.

The company was accused of knowing about the risks of using talcum powder but failed to disclose the information to consumers.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help Maximize Your Recovery

Personal Injury Law

The compensation you can expect to receive in a personal injury case in Iowa will depend on the specific facts of your case. Iowa law allows for recovering economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

An experienced attorney can help maximize your recovery in a personal injury claim by thoroughly investigating the case, negotiating with insurance companies, representing you in court, and providing guidance and support. 

Iowa has a comparative fault system– the court may reduce the amount of damages you can recover if you are partially at fault for the accident. For example, if you are 25% at fault for the accident, the court may reduce the damages by 25%.

Iowa’s comparative fault system can be complex, especially when dealing with specific incidents such as dog bites or bicycle accidents. It’s crucial to understand the nuances of how fault is determined and how it can affect the outcome of your case. For instance, if you’re a dog owner or a frequent visitor to dog parks, being aware of dog park safety tips can be instrumental in preventing incidents that could lead to complicated legal situations. Similarly, cyclists should be informed about what to do if you’re injured in a bicycle accident in Iowa to ensure they take the right steps following an accident. Avoiding common injury claim mistakes is also vital, as one error can significantly impact the compensation you’re entitled to. If your claim reaches a point where it faces claim denials in court, having a robust understanding of your rights and the legal process is indispensable. Moreover, if an insurance company is involved, knowing how to negotiate an insurance settlement can make a substantial difference in the resolution of your case.

There is no set formula for calculating the compensation, as each case is unique. However, an attorney can help assess the case’s value based on the injury’s severity and the extent of the damages to determine the fitting amount as compensation.

Providing Unmatched EXPERIENCE On Your Case When you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been treated unfairly or you’re in the middle of a legal disagreement, it can be difficult to know what your rights are and how to proceed.

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