Basic Texas personal injury damages are limited to physical pain and mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, medical care and loss of earning capacity.
There is no exact definition of physical pain or specific evidence required to prove physical pain. A jury has wide latitude on this issue and may simply infer the existence of physical pain in the event of a serious injury. Mental anguish is more than normal concern or worry and requires proof of a high degree of mental pain and anxiety to such an extent that it disrupts the victim’s life. Physical impairment damages are separate and distinct from the other elements and address the inability to engage in activities to such an extent that it causes a disruption of the victim’s former lifestyle. Physical impairment is distinct from the inability to continue in gainful employment and focuses on disability that results in a substantial disruption of a former lifestyle. Disfigurement, like physical pain, uses the ordinary meaning of the term and is a matter of degree with the jury having broad discretion. Medical care includes the reasonable and necessary medical expenses, both in the past and in the future, required to treat the accident related injuries. Loss of earning capacity is the inability to engage in gainful employment for which one is otherwise qualified. In most cases the amount of the injured person’s actual lost wages are submitted to the jury. However, someone who was between jobs, unemployed, on sabbatical, etc. would nonetheless be entitled to recover the reasonable amount of income which they could have earned during the period of accident related disability.
The spouse of an injured person also has a right to make a claim for loss of household services and consortium. Loss of household services includes the loss of domestic services and support. This element of damages is often used to recover additional expenses incurred in the home during a period of disability such as additional maid services. Loss of consortium includes the loss of care, comfort, society, emotional support, sexual relations, and companionship necessary to a successful marriage. While loss of consortium damages are technically available any time a spouse is injured most jurors tend to think that a certain amount of such damages are included in “for better or worse” and thus loss of consortium damages are usually only asserted where there are serious or disabling injuries to a spouse.
For more information contact a Tyler Injury Attorney today.