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What Damages Can You Sue For?

What Damages Can You Sue For - judge hammer with cash

Legally reviewed by Garrett D. Lee, Trial Attorney at Morgan & Morgan, on June 10, 2024.


If you suffered an injury caused by a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries by filing a claim with your insurance company. The best-case scenario is a quick resolution to your claim in the form of a settlement check. If you suffered one or more injuries caused by the negligence of another party, you might have enough evidence to file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages. Whether you suffered injuries because of an accident or the negligent acts committed by another party, you need to answer one important question: What damages can you sue for?

A personal injury incident can rack up bills that run into thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. If you can no longer work, you have no income coming in to pay the rapidly escalating expenses. This means you need to recover your financial losses through your insurance company and possibly the judicial system. Knowing what damages you can sue for ensures you receive the compensation you deserve.

However, you should not try to recover monetary damages on your own. Both your insurance company and the attorney representing the other party will want to see persuasive evidence of your injuries, as well as the factors that caused you harm. This is where the experienced team of personal injury lawyers from Morgan & Morgan comes into play.

Since 1988, Morgan & Morgan has recovered more than $20 billion in monetary damages for our clients. From auto collisions to defective products, we help our clients recoup lost wages and pay off costly medical bills. When you schedule a free case evaluation with one of our highly rated personal injury attorneys, you can expect to learn the answer to the question, “What damages can you sue for?”

You cannot close your eyes, snap your fingers, and wish for a favorable judgment or settlement. Before you learn the answer to the question, “What damages can you sue for?” you should understand how the personal injury process unfolds.

Treat Your Injuries

Even if your injuries appear to be minor, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a personal injury incident. You undergo diagnostic tests to determine the severity of your symptoms. Submitting diagnostic test results represents an important step in proving you suffer from injuries that prevent you from working. Eventually, you might go through a treatment program followed by one or more rehabilitation sessions.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Contacting your insurance company is an important step because it alerts your insurer that you plan to file a compensation claim. You do not meet with an insurance adjuster at this step of the process. You simply make a phone call or send an email. Meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney before you file an insurance claim ensures you submit the most persuasive evidence.

Attend a Free Case Evaluation

Receiving a free case evaluation helps you learn how strong of a case you have to file a civil lawsuit. The attorney sitting across from you asks several questions, and you should do the same when the time comes for you to ask questions. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, one of the first items on the legal agenda involves gathering and organizing the documents required to file a convincing insurance claim.

Negotiate With Your Insurance Company

Hiring legal counsel is crucial because it lets your insurance company know that you are serious about pursuing a claim. Your insurance company proposes a cash settlement for the claim that your lawyer reviews. If your attorney thinks the offer is below what you deserve, your legal counsel will make a counteroffer. Negotiations with an insurer typically do not take as long as the time it takes to negotiate a favorable settlement during a civil trial.

File a Civil Lawsuit

Every state follows different pretrial procedures, which means you can expect your case to reach the trial phase between one and two years after filing the proper legal paperwork with the court. A personal injury attorney helps you file a compelling lawsuit before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Many personal injury cases do not reach the trial phase of the legal process.


During the discovery phase of the civil lawsuit process, both attorneys share information that allows each party to determine the strength of their respective cases. Both lawyers take depositions from experts and witnesses, as well as review the evidence collected to determine how to proceed. The discovery phase of a civil lawsuit can take as long as six months to conclude. Discovery provides both parties with the opportunity to enter into negotiations for reaching a favorable settlement.


If negotiations fail to end the litigation, your case goes to trial in front of a judge or jury. A personal injury trial can end as soon as the next day or take as long as several months to conclude. The trial phase of a personal injury lawsuit is the point in the legal process where your attorney requests compensation for your injuries. You will learn what damages you can sue for long before the start of a civil trial.

What Is the Purpose of Damages?

The initial legal concept of damages, which continues to form the foundation of a civil lawsuit, involves restoring an individual’s financial position to what it was before a personal injury incident. For example, if a victim lost $5,000 in wages, paid $12,000 in medical bills, and required $8,000 to repair property damages, the victim seeks monetary damages worth at least $25,000.

Since the establishment of the legal concept of damages, the judicial system has expanded the concept to include non-economic and punitive damages. Non-economic damages cover indirect costs such as pain and suffering, while punitive damages penalize a defendant for committing one or more acts of negligence.

What Damages Can You Sue For?

Whether you suffered injuries caused by an accident or got hurt because of the negligence of another party, you have the right to recover monetary damages for several reasons.

Medical Expenses

Typically the costliest type of monetary damages, medical expenses include the costs of diagnostic tests, treatment programs, and physical therapy sessions. You also might have to request compensation to cover the costs associated with prescription drugs and assistive devices such as crutches and/or a wheelchair. Your personal injury attorney can ask the court for future medical expenses, which is important if you suffer from one or more injuries that require years of treatment and rehabilitation.

Lost Wages

If you missed work while recuperating from your injuries, you have the right to recover 100 percent of your lost income. Your lawyer submits copies of your bank statement to demonstrate a drop in income, as well as the timekeeping records provided by your employer. You also can ask the court and your insurance company to compensate you for lost employee benefits.

Property Damage

Mostly associated with car accident cases, property damage can represent a substantial part of your request for monetary damages. A totaled new car can be worth more than $30,000, which you should have the right to recover. Other types of personal injury incidents that leave behind significant property damage include product liability, premises liability, and slip and fall cases.

Pain and Suffering

Now we move to the non-economic types of monetary damages awarded for personal injury cases. Pain and suffering include a wide variety of issues, such as mental anguish, acute anxiety, and emotional distress. Your personal injury lawyer has to calculate a reasonable value for pain and suffering damages. The most common method for calculating the value of pain and suffering damages is to use a multiplier between one and five against the value of your economic damages. For example, if your economic damages are worth $20,000 and the court allows a multiplier for pain and suffering of two, then the court should award you $40,000 for pain and suffering damages.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are left to the sole discretion of the judge or jury hearing your case. For intentional acts of negligence, judges and juries usually award more money in punitive damages than for cases that involve an unintentional act of negligence. Punitive damages can increase substantially if a corporation is charged with willful negligence. For instance, if a large company intentionally misleads consumers about the safety of a product, the judge or jury hearing the case might award punitive damages that exceed $100,000.

What Damages Can You Sue for With a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a loved one dies because of an accident or worse, one or more acts of negligence, you have the right to seek monetary damages that differ somewhat from the monetary damages awarded for personal injury lawsuits. Pain and suffering is a common type of monetary damages awarded for both wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits. However, pain and suffering damages awarded for a wrongful death case usually are much greater than the monetary damages awarded for a personal injury case.

Medical Expenses

You have the right to seek compensation for any outstanding medical expenses that are associated with your loved one’s treatments before death.

Funeral and Burial Costs

Losing a loved one because of a wrongful death should not force you to pay for funeral and burial costs. Although your loved one might have made arrangements to cover most funeral and burial costs, you might face a few bills that are not covered by your loved one’s insurance policy.

Loss of Financial Support

Perhaps the greatest financial loss is not an expense. It is called the loss of financial support. If a loved one who fell victim to wrongful death took care of most financial obligations for you and your family, you have the right to receive compensation for the loss of financial support.

Loss of Companionship

Like pain and suffering, loss of companionship is considered a type of non-economic damage. Unlike pain and suffering, your wrongful death attorney does not have a way to calculate the value of the damages awarded for loss of companionship. One of the factors that can influence an award for loss of companionship is if the loss of a loved one sent you spiraling into depression.

Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

Knowing what damages you can sue for prepares you for the first meeting with a state-licensed personal injury lawyer. During the meeting, the attorney will calculate an estimate for the amount of money you might receive in monetary damages.

Schedule a free case evaluation today with a personal injury attorney from Morgan & Morgan to get the compensation you deserve.