If you have a personal injury dispute with someone or you are contemplating filing a lawsuit, you may be wondering how much compensation you could possibly be awarded. This assessment will be made by the court and depends on a number of different factors. This article discusses the Oklahoma civil justice system and how personal injury compensation is decided in Oklahoma.
Who decides your case?
Most people mistakenly believe that the judge decides the amount of compensation you will be awarded in a personal injury case. However, unless your case is tried to the bench in what is called a “bench trial,” it is actually the jury who will decide not only if you will prevail in your lawsuit but also how much you should be compensated.
How is your case decided?
Regardless of whether a judge or a jury decides your case, the cornerstone of any personal injury issue is the evidence of the claimants. This means the evidence that you, your friends and family, your doctors, your therapists, and any other expert witnesses give to the court. After reviewing the facts, the judge or jury will analyze this evidence with respect to the law relevant to your case. Then, to the extent that the facts corroborate your claim, they will make an award for compensation that is appropriate for your injuries and financial losses.
The process is as follows:
- A lawsuit is initiated by filing a complaint for damages, which is a written document that includes all of your claims and how much money you are seeking to receive in compensation.
- Litigation then begins with the exchange of information between the opposing parties. This most often includes depositions, which will require you to take an oath and have your version of the events that took place recorded for later use at trial.
- Once a case goes to trial, the evidence will be presented to the court and the judge or jury will decide contested issues of fact and what evidence is credible. Finally, if it is decided that the plaintiff will prevail, the judge or jury will decide how much compensation you will be awarded.
If your case prevails, you may be awarded damages to compensate you for your injuries, lost wages, medical costs and pain and suffering etc. Basically these damages fall into one of two categories:
1. Economic damages
Economic damages are based on fixed values and are the easiest to determine. For instance, if your vehicle was totaled during a collision and the judge or jury found that the person who hit you was responsible for your injuries and losses, and the Kelley Blue Book Value is $5000 dollars, it would be easy for the jury to determine your award ($5000) for your vehicle.
In another example, if when you are driving that vehicle you were towing a piece of fine art that was worth $100,000 and the individual who struck you destroyed that piece of fine art, it would again be easy for the jury to hear evidence about the value of the fine art that was destroyed and award you $100,000 in compensation.
2. Non-economic damages
Non-economic compensation is determined by the judge or jury and is generally a more difficult decision to arrive at. Non-economic damages are things like the loss of enjoyment of life as result of an injury, pain and suffering, and even the loss of a loved one. The trier of fact has the difficult job of placing a value on what can be considered incalculable losses that should be compensated in a particular case.
Free Consultation: Claremore Personal Injury Attorney
When there’s so much at stake, it’s crucial that you to speak with skilled Claremore personal injury lawyer at our firm. For a free consultation with an able Claremore personal injury expert, call (918) 213-0950 today. If you prefer e-mail, send your question to a Claremore personal injury attorney by using the form at the right-hand side of this page.