A personal economic loss analysis is required in both personal injury and wrongful death cases. These cases arise when an individual suffers an injury or death that was caused by the wrongful actions of another person, entity or organization. Three common types of personal injury and wrongful death cases are the result of:
- accidents (i.e. car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents);
- medical malpractice; and
- product liability.
In these matters, the civil litigation process has two phases:
- liability; and;
The defendant’s liability or “civil wrong” may be the result of intentional conduct or it may stem from the defendant’s negligence. Typically, liability is not found to be the result of intentional harm, but rather, the result of the defendant’s negligence due to its conduct falling “below a legally recognized standard of taking reasonable care under the circumstances to protect others from harm”. Liability for negligence may be proven by showing that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff and that the defendant breached the duty causing the plaintiff’s damages.
If the defendant’s liability is proven, the next issue is addressing damages suffered by the plaintiff or the decedent’s survivors. Economic/financial experts may be retained by the plaintiff or the defendant to opine upon the damages suffered by the plaintiff due to the defendant’s alleged wrongful conduct. Legally, “damages” are defined as the monetary compensation that a person who suffers detriment from the unlawful action or omission of another may recover from the party at fault. Typically, damages that a plaintiff may be entitled to recover fall under three main categories:
- nominal; and
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured person for his or her actual loss because of the injury. In personal injury matters, compensatory damages may consist of past and future losses of earnings and benefits, past and future losses related to the value of household services, past and future medical care costs, and various other types of actual past or future damages depending on the facts of the case. Nominal damages may be awarded to a plaintiff to redress the technical violation of rights in cases where no appreciable detriment was caused. The trier of fact may also award punitive damages to a plaintiff in addition to compensatory damages to punish a defendant for its wrongful conduct.
Use of a BTZ Expert in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Matters
BTZ offers an array of professionals, who draw on their years of civil litigation experience and educations in economics, finance and accounting, to serve as the designated financial/economic experts or consultants in personal injury matters. BTZ professionals are engaged by either counsel for the plaintiff or the defendant to quantify the damages of the injured party and act as an expert consultant or an expert witness providing testimony at deposition and trial regarding their opinions of damages.
The damage calculations and expert testimony of BTZ professionals exemplify their thorough knowledge of and extensive experience regarding:
- state law relating to damages in tort actions;
- wages, benefits, and growth rates;
- work life and life expectancies;
- discount rates; and
- numerous other pertinent subject matters.
BTZ’s professionals often work in collaboration with other retained experts, such as vocational rehabilitation experts, doctors and life care planners to quantify the comprehensive damages of the injured party. If relevant, BTZ’s professionals may also provide the information necessary to a trier of fact to calculate punitive damages. The damages opinions of BTZ professionals are credible, thoroughly researched, and substantiated by relevant evidence.
BTZ professionals offering expert consulting and/or expert witness services regarding damages in personal injury matters are:
- Brian P. Brinig, Principal
- Robert A. Taylor, Principal
- Paul A. Zimmer, Principal
- Jamie T. Haven, Director
- Catherine “Kate” Kowaleski, Director
Brinig, B.P., Finance & Accounting for Lawyers, BVR Resources LLC, Portland, OR, 2011.
Brinig, B.P., “Calculating Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Actions,” California Society of Certified Public Accountants, 8-hour continuing professional education course, 19921995.
“Personal Injury Law” https://www.hg.org/torts.html