According to the National Safety Council’s preliminary 2016 data, there were as many as 40,000 car crash-related deaths in the United States last year – this is an increase of 6% from 2015.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another person’s negligence, it is your legal right to pursue “damages”. What are damages? Well, they are essentially monetary compensation for real physical, emotional, or financial losses that you experienced in the accident.
Car accidents can result in serious injuries and have devastating effects on your life. Although the foundation of most personal injury claims is compensation for medical costs, there are actually a number of other types of damages that you can recover.
Types of Car Accident Damages
Here is a look at some of the different kinds of damages you can recover for injuries you suffered as a result of a car accident:
Medical Expenses: The most common type of compensation you can recover for injuries from a car accident is money to cover medical expenses, but this actually includes many different compensatory damages. Medical costs fall under the ‘monetary losses’ category, as a reasonably accurate dollar figure can be assigned by the court to:
- Medical bills incurred due to the accident
- Cost of medical care in the future
- Cost of rehabilitation therapy
- Costs of living with an accident-caused disability, e.g. in-home care
Loss of Income: When you suffer injuries as a result of a car accident, it can significantly alter the rest of your life as well as have a significant impact on your ability to work and earn the money you need to care for yourself and your family. In such cases, you can pursue compensation for loss of future capacity to earn. Furthermore, it may also be possible for you to recover money to pay for lost income while you were recovering from your injuries.
Pain and Suffering: Damages for pain and suffering, while not always awarded, can be recovered when the injuries a person suffers caused undue physical pain or emotional distress. These are considered non-monetary losses as a person’s pain can never be measured in dollars. Car accidents are a harrowing experience and it is only natural that they may have a serious impact on a person’s mind and emotions.
Loss of Consortium: Serious car accidents, unfortunately, can have an impact on the ability of the victim to physically or emotionally maintain a relationship with their spouse or partner. In cases like these, the injured party can also pursue damages for a loss of companionship, also known as loss of consortium.
How Compensatory Damages are Determined
If your car accident case makes it to court – this rarely happens in any kind of personal injury cases – and the jury decides that liability for the car accident in fact lies with the defendant, the jury will also decide the extent of that liability. In other words, is the defendant completely to blame for the accident, or are you or some third party also partly to blame for the accident?
Once fault has been determined, there will be an assessment of the extent of your losses. Some types of compensatory damages are easy to evaluate, such as past medical expenses and loss of income. However, others, such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium, are known to be notoriously difficult to measure in terms of dollar value.
When assessing compensatory damages in a car accident lawsuit, there are certain types of questions that a jury, or in some cases a judge, will need to consider, including:
- How much did the plaintiff spend on medical bills?
- How much will future medical care resulting from the accident cost the plaintiff?
- How much income was lost by the plaintiff as a result of the injuries?
- Will the accident and the injuries caused by that accident have an effect on whether the plaintiff can make a living in the future?
- Does the plaintiff have a temporary or permanent disability due to the accident?
- Is/did the plaintiff experience emotional distress, anxiety, PTSD, sleeplessness, or any other emotional or psychological problems that can be attributed to the accident?
Once the jury or judge thoroughly considers these questions, they can determine the exact dollar value for the compensatory damages pursued by the plaintiff.
Car Insurance Claim or Car Accident Lawsuit?
You need to keep in mind that the concept of “damages” is not limited to personal injury lawsuits filed over car accidents. Even if you only file an insurance claim after a traffic crash, such as a “third party” claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, any monetary settlement you receive will be considered “damages”, at least informally.
Depending on your settlement’s circumstances – and maybe also depending on at which state your car accident case is settled – you may receive one settlement check that is intended to cover all your losses, while different categories of damages are itemized in the “release” you are asked to sign. These categories include:
- Special damages – for medical bills, lost income, etc
- Total loss of vehicle – for your vehicle’s “actual cash value” at the time of the accident
- General damages – for pain and suffering
Get the Best Legal Service for Car Accident Claims
If you somebody you know if has suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence or carelessness, you should immediately seek the legal assistance of the stellar and fabulous car accident attorneys at the Leifer Law Firm.
We have experience in cases involving car accidents and can make sure that your rights are protected. With our diligence and knowledge, you can be sure to recover the damages you are legally entitled to. Call 561-395-8055 today for a free consultation.