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Quality of Life

Quality of Life

If someone else’s negligence or misconduct causes you to suffer physical, financial, or psychological losses from an injury, you may qualify for damages under Oregon state law. Damages generally come in three varieties: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Lost or reduced quality of life is a component of a victim’s non-economic damages. It can be worth quite a lot of money in some circumstances.

Example of Damages in a Typical Personal Injury Case

Example of Damages in a Typical Personal Injury Case

Imagine that a careless driver runs a red light and plows into the side of your vehicle. You suffer broken bones and other injuries. You file a personal injury claim for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and out-of-pocket expenses. You also add a claim for “loss of enjoyment of life” due to your inability to exercise or engage in sporting activities for several months after the accident.

Injuries and Physical Limitations That Might Affect Your Quality of Life

The following conditions, if you suffer them, should put you on notice that you might have a strong lost quality of life claim:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Chronic pain or discomfort 
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of sight or hearing
  • Loss of mobility (you are bedridden, for example)
  • Chronic fatigue or severe weakness
  • Severe mental health issues (such as PTSD, anxiety, or depression)
  • Incontinence or loss of bowel/bladder control
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Need for long-term use of medical devices, such as a colostomy bag
  • Loss of ability to communicate effectively (due to speech impairment or aphasia, for example)

There are many more conditions that might contribute to the diminishment of your quality of life. Not all qualifying conditions represent serious injuries. Some impairments (such as bodily disfigurement) might qualify as a separate claim in their own right. Talk to your lawyer to avoid overlapping compensation claims.

The Possible Components of a Lost Quality of Life Claim

You might claim lost or reduced quality of life under Oregon personal injury law if your injuries resulted in your inability to:

  • Exercise or play sports
  • Spend quality time with family members
  • Enjoy hobbies, such as chess or table tennis
  • Engage in social activities, such as parties and going out with friends
  • Enjoy or participate in sexual relations
  • Travel
  • Participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking or fishing
  • Care for children
  • Care for pets
  • Dress or bathe yourself
  • Attend family gatherings or fruitfully participate in them
  • Pursue educational goals
  • Pursue your chosen career
  • Drive
  • Cook
  • Enjoy music or attend concerts
  • Garden or do yard work
  • Dance or attend dance classes
  • Participate in volunteer activities
  • Attend worship services
  • Read for pleasure
  • Participate in artistic endeavors (painting, composing music, writing, etc.)

Remember that you cannot claim damages for the loss of anything you didn’t actually lose. For example, if you never exercised in the first place, you can’t claim lost quality of life based on your inability to exercise.

Evidence Needed To Prove Reduced Quality of Life 

Even if you did engage in certain activities before your injury, you must be able to prove it (through witness testimony, proof of gym membership and attendance, etc.). You might find it challenging to gather evidence to prove, for example, that you went fishing every weekend with friends before your accident. You might also find it difficult to prove the value that you attached to a given activity (to prove how much you lost). 

Here are some ideas for evidence:

  • Medical records
  • Personal diaries or journals from before your accident 
  • Before and after photos
  • Witness statements, especially from third parties with no bias towards you and no stake in the outcome of your claim

You might also consider keeping a detailed journal of your daily activities after your accident and noting how your injuries have affected your quality of life. You might even need an expert witness. Your lawyer can help you think of other ideas for evidence. 

Settlement: Negotiating a Lost Quality of Life Claim

If you’re like most people, you’d rather settle your claim out of court than endure the time, expense, and stress of courtroom litigation and possibly even a trial. It’s likely that settlement is one of the defendant’s favorite options as well (second only to dismissing your claim altogether). A skilled Oregon personal injury lawyer can help you negotiate a favorable settlement

Make sure your lawyer has courtroom experience because this will give you bargaining leverage. Ironically, the best way to avoid a trial is to choose a lawyer (or a firm) with a strong track record of winning at trial. That’s because, for the defendant, settling out of court is better than losing at trial.

An Oregon Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Calculate Your Reduced Quality of Life Damages

Not every personal injury case requires the assistance of a lawyer. If your injuries were minor, you might be able to handle your claim on your own. However, if your injuries have significantly impacted your overall quality of life, you probably deserve significant compensation. You might need an Oregon lawyer to prove it to a court, an insurance company, or the at-fault party. Call Tillmann Law at (503) 773-3333 to schedule your free consultation.

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