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What are elements of damage in a DC personal injury case?

What are elements of damage in a DC personal injury case?Most Americans learn growing up that it is a Constitutional right to have a jury by your peers, especially when in comes to DC personal injury cases. We learn the importance of having a jury on most cases. But have you ever wondered how a jury knows what to do? If you have already served a jury duty, then you know that in every case that involves a jury, the judge issues a set of guidelines and rules called the jury instruction. The jury instruction is intended to help guide the jurors with the proper legal information about proceedings and law elements in question. This way, when it comes down to deliberations, jurors are informed so that they can make impartial decisions based on proper evidence.

Take a look at the jury instructions below about the elements of damage in a DC injury case from a civil court.

Damage–Elements

If you find in favor of [the plaintiff], then you should consider whether [he] [she] is entitled to any [compensation] [monetary] damages. You may award [monetary] damages for any of the following items that you find the defendant’s [negligence] [conduct] [action] proximately caused:

  1. the extent and duration of any physical injuries sustained by the plaintiff;
  2. the effects that any physical injuries have on the overall physical and emotional well-being of the plaintiff;
  3. any physical and emotional distress that the plaintiff has suffered in the past;
  4. any physical pain and emotional distress that the plaintiff may suffer in the future;
  5. any disfigurement or deformity suffered by the plaintiff, as well as any humiliation or embarrassment associated with the disfigurement or deformity;
  6. any inconvenience the plaintiff has experienced;
  7. any inconvenience the plaintiff may experience in the future;
  8. any medical expenses incurred by the plaintiff;
  9. any medical expenses that the plaintiff may incur in the future;
  10. any loss of earnings incurred by the plaintiff;
  11. any loss of earnings or earning capacity that the plaintiff may incur in the future; and
  12. any damage or loss to plaintiff’s personal property.

Any [monetary] damages you might award for physical injury of physical sickness may not be taxable. Any monetary damages that you might award for emotional distress and for all other types of harm may be taxable.

What does it mean?

Although the purpose of jury instructions is to clarify with the jurors the definition or proceeding at hand, DC injury legal professionals know all too well that they can often be confusing. For the majority of Americans who do not go to law school, the terms can seem complex, vague, and altogether unfamiliar. Don’t worry, we understand. This article is intended to break down the jury instruction step by step.

Take a look.

What are damages?

First things first, in order to understand this jury instruction, it’s important to understand what damages are, or at least what the court considers to be damages. The word damages, in the legal sense, refers to an award which is typically monetary as a result of somebody’s loss or injury. In order to receive damages, the plaintiff (the person who brings the DC injury case to court) has to prove their loss.

What is the rest of the jury instruction about?

The rest of the jury instruction goes over various elements that you could consider losses, and thus, rule for various damages. In other words, the jury instruction is suggesting various “losses” that could call for damages and compensation (with the assumption that you have found the plaintiff’s case to be true).

If you find that the plaintiff’s loss was “proximately” caused by the defendant then the rest of the instruction applies. Proximately, in a court of law, simply means “sufficiently related.” Another way to think about it is: did the defendant’s actions cause the plaintiff’s loss? In DC injury cases like an auto accident or a wrongful death, you can think of it this way: did the defendant’s actions cause the plaintiff to be injured — whether that injury is immediate or long term.

There are all sorts of damages, here’s why:

There are so many different ways a person can suffer from loss. Let’s look at the specifics of each section of this jury instruction.

  1. The extent and duration of any physical injuries sustained by the plaintiff means you can receive damages for the amount of time your injury lasted.
  2. The effects that any physical injuries have on the overall physical and emotional well-being of the plaintiff means you can receive damages for how your injury may have placed a physical or emotional burden on you (i.e. if you suffer from chronic back pain after your DC car accident caused by someone else or if you suffer from depression as a result of your lost limb caused by somebody else).
  3. Any physical and emotional distress that the plaintiff has suffered in the past means you can receive damages for past suffering of your loss (i.e. if by the time you go to court, you have already had to deal with the physical or mental burden of your injury)
  4. Any physical pain and emotional distress that the plaintiff may suffer in the future means you can receive damages for future suffering of your loss (i.e. the physical and mental pain you will have to go through in future)
  5. Any disfigurement or deformity suffered by the plaintiff, as well as any humiliation or embarrassment associated with the disfigurement or deformity means you can receive damages if your loss, typically an injury, results in a deformity (i.e. if you receive permanent face scarring as a result of burns to the face in a DC workplace accident)
  6. Any inconvenience the plaintiff has experienced means you can receive damages for any sort of discomfort, annoyances, difficulties, or disadvantages your loss has put you through by the time you get to court.
  7. Any inconvenience the plaintiff may experience in the future means you can receive damages for any sort of discomfort, annoyances, difficulties, or disadvantages your loss will put you through in the future.
  8. Any medical expenses incurred by the plaintiff means you can receive damages for any amount of money you have spent taking care of your injury.
  9. Any medical expenses that the plaintiff may incur in the future means you can receive damages for any amount of money you will spend taking care of your injury in a DC injury case.
  10. Any loss of earnings incurred by the plaintiff means you can receive damages for any amount of money you could have made had it not been for your loss (i.e. if an injury inhibits you for going to work)
  11. Any loss of earnings or earning capacity that the plaintiff may incur in the future means you can receive damages for any amount of money you could have made in the future had it not been for your loss (say you work as a construction worker and lose a hand so you are no longer employable)
  12. Any damage or loss to plaintiff’s personal property means if your property was ruined or negatively effected you can also receive damages for that (i.e. if your car broke because of a car accident)

What are the big takeaways?

To put it simply, if somebody’s loss — an injury in the case of DC accidents — was caused by another individual or party, the person who suffered can receive damages, which usually involves monetary compensation.

Please do not rely on any of the above statements as legal advice. You should always seek the advice of a licensed lawyer or legal professional in order to assist you.

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