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The Different Types of Damages Recoverable in a Typical Personal Injury Lawsuit in Texas

July 9th, 2015 by

The following are typical damages which may be recoverable in a typical personal injury lawsuit:

(1) Physical Pain and Suffering

In a personal injury case, the plaintiff can recover for both past and future physical pain and suffering caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct.  The injured person can only be compensated, however, for the pain and suffering of which they were conscious. Las Palmas Med Ctr. V. Rodriguez, 279 S.W.3d 413, 417 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2009, no pet.)

(2) Mental Anguish

In a personal injury case, the Plaintiff can recover for past and future mental anguish damages.  Mental anguish has also been defined in the case-law in Texas in the following terms: The term “mental anguish” implies a relatively high degree of mental pain and distress. It is more than mere disappointment, anger, resentment or embarrassment, although it may include all of these. It includes a mental sensation of pain resulting from such painful emotions as grief, severe disappointment, indignation, wounded pride, shame, despair, and/or public humiliation.  Treviño v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co., 582 S.W.2d 582, 584 (Tex.Civ.App. B Corpus Christi 1979, no writ).

(3) Medical Expenses

The Plaintiff can recover damages for past and future medical expenses.  The predicate for the recovery of past medical expenses is proof that: 1) the expenses were necessary to treat the injury and were reasonable in amount, and 2) the expenses were paid or incurred by or on behalf of the plaintiff. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem, Code ‘ 41.0105; Dallas Ry. & Terminal Co. v. Gossett, 294 S.W.2d 377, 382- 83 (Tex. 1956); State v. Esquivel, 92 S.W.3d 17, 21- 22 (Tex. App.BEl Paso 2002, no pet.).

(4) Loss of Earning Capacity

A plaintiff can recover loss of earning capacity. See Dallas Railway and Terminal v. Guthrie, 210 S.W.2d 550 (Tex. 1948). The most obvious and direct proof of lost earning capacity is loss of earnings themselves.  The plaintiff’s recovery can include damages for loss of earning capacity both in the past and in the future. U-Haul Int’l v. Waldrip, 322 S.W.3d 821,853 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010), rev’d on other grounds, 380 S.W.3d 118 (Tex. 2012).

(5) Physical Impairment

In a personal injury case, a plaintiff may recover damages for past and future physical impairment. While there is no specific definition of “physical impairment,” a factor to consider is loss of enjoyment of life. Golden Eagle Archery, Inc. v. Jackson, 116 S.W.3d 757, 766 (Tex. 2003). Physical Impairment can include the inability to participate in sports, hobbies, or other recreational activities.

(6) Disfigurement

Disfigurement has been defined as an impairment of beauty, symmetry or appearance which renders unsightly or deforms in some manner. Hopkins County Hosp. Dist. v. Allen, 760 S.W.2d 341 (Tex.App. B Texarkana 1988, no writ). It is an element of damages separate and apart from physical pain and mental anguish. See Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Schultz, 583 S.W.2d 882 (Tex.Civ.App. –Waco 1979, writ ref’d n.r.e.); PJC 8.2.

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