The Difference Between Personal Injury and Property Damage in Texas Lawsuits
Recovering for All Your Losses After an Accident
When you’ve been in an accident caused by someone else’s wrongful or careless act, you have a right to seek compensation for both personal injury and property damage. For example, if you’re in a motor vehicle accident, you might suffer bodily harm as well as the total loss of your car. What’s the difference between personal injury and property damage? How are those types of losses calculated?
Personal Injury Claims in Texas
All types of damages, whether for personal injury or property damage, are either compensatory or punitive in nature. Compensatory damages are intended to reimburse you for losses actually incurred, whereas punitive damages are imposed to sanction a defendant for egregious behavior or dissuade others from engaging in similar acts. As a general rule, most damages awarded are compensatory.
Compensatory damages are further categorized as either economic or non-economic:
- Economic damages are those that are easily calculated, typically resulting from tangible loss. These damages include lost wages or earning capacity, unreimbursed medical expenses, and damage to or loss of property.
- Non-economic damages are mostly intangible, making them more difficult to calculate. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, emotional distress (when allowed), and loss of enjoyment of life (the inability to do things you could do before the accident that brought meaning to your life).
- Some courts apply a “multiplier,” taking the amount of economic or tangible damages and multiplying it by some factor (usually between 1 and 10) to determine non-economic damages.
- Some courts instruct the jury to use their judgment to identify a reasonable amount of non-economic damages.
- Replacement value reflects the cost of obtaining the same property in the same condition, with no enhancement in value.
- Actual, or intrinsic, value is the worth of the property to the owner at the time of the accident, without considering any sentimental value.
- Sentimental value is the value attached to unique property with special meaning to the owner. You can recover sentimental value but must establish the special or unique value. As a general rule, you cannot recover sentimental value for common household goods and clothing.
Because non-economic damages are more difficult to compute, courts use different approaches:
Compensation for Property Loss in Texas
With respect to damage to or loss of property, Texas law holds that damages are calculated by subtracting the fair market value of the property after the accident from the fair market value of the property before the accident. In some situations, though, it can be difficult to determine the fair market value of an item. Additionally, a lost item may have no discernible market value. In those circumstances, parties seeking compensation may look to other forms of valuation, including replacement cost value, actual value, or sentimental value:
Contact the Proven Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we have decades of experience protecting victims of personal injury. We provide a free initial consultation to anyone hurt by the negligent acts of another person. To set up an appointment with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.