Compensable Damage

In order to recover for an injury, you must have suffered damage, i.e., some measurable cost. Minor cuts and bruises, unless they cause other economic loss (e.g., you are a television personality and get a bruise on your face that would ordinarily not be recoverable; but you have to miss work because of it), are not considered compensable for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it will cost more to recover them than they are worth.

Example: A car goes through a red light, causing you to dive to the ground. If you get up with a simple scrape on your hand, there is an injury caused by negligence, but you will likely not be able to recover, despite the actions of the driver. First, the amount at issue is negligible—perhaps the cost of some soap and a bandage. Technically, you could seek to recover this cost. But, second, the cost of seeking recovery will far outstrip the cost of that soap and bandage—you (and any lawyer who took such a case) would lose money trying to recover.

In general, your damage needs to equal or exceed the costs of recovering the damage in order for you to have a viable personal injury case. Your damage may be more or less than you assume. This is a question a lawyer can help you determine.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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