If you file a personal injury lawsuit, every aspect of your claim will up for debate and argument, and perhaps none more than your calculation of damages.

In the context of a personal injury case, the term damages refers to the monetary value of your claim. As the plaintiff, you must show that you suffered losses due to your injury. Add up these losses and you have your total claim of damages.

Damages can be economic and noneconomic. For example, medical expenses are considered purely economic. If you needed medical attention because of your injury, you add up your medical bills and claim these as part of your economic damages. Similarly, if you missed work due to your injury, you can add up the hours you were unable to work, and claim your lost wages from those hours as part of your economic damages.

When adding up your medical costs, don’t forget to include medication, transportation and other costs necessary for your medical needs. Ambulance bills can be shockingly high, and should be part of your medical damages package. If you have to travel to see medical specialists, you should seek compensation for your travel and lodging costs.

Further complicating the picture: Economic damages can include future damages. For example, if you suffered permanent injury due to your accident, you will likely face medical expenses and lost wages for many years to come. If you only calculate your damages up until the day you settle your case or get a verdict, you will not be compensated for these future costs. A good personal injury attorney will help you gather evidence to show how your injuries will cause economic damages in the years to come.

Noneconomic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of services and so on. These can be harder to document, since you can’t just point to a stack of medical bills as evidence. Still, anyone who has ever suffered a serious injury knows that these damages are very real. A serious injury can affect you and your family for the rest of your lives, and the changes it brings come with real-world costs.

With all this in mind, a good personal injury attorney will speak with you at length about how your injury has changed your life and the lives of everyone in your family. Sometimes, the link between your injury and the negative impact on your life is not always obvious at first glance, but becomes apparent when you think about it. For instance, if you used to babysit your grandchildren once a week, but your injury means you can no longer do so, this comes with real costs for your family and yourself. When you have been injured due to the negligence of another party, these changes are not your fault, and you deserve compensation for them.