What Damages Are Recoverable After an Accident?
If you’ve never been in a car accident before, then you might not understand the full extent of the costs that go along with it. Car crashes have obvious expenses like medical bills and car repairs, but they also include less clear non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Accurately evaluating non-economic damages in a personal injury case is essential to receiving a reasonable settlement offer for your accident. This can be particularly tricky due to the many factors involved in a crash and the need for clear documentation.
Determining your total damages begins with understanding each relevant category and seeing if your accident applies. Let’s go over these recoverable damages now.
Economic ExpensesAs touched on earlier, obvious economic expenses are fair grounds for damages.
This covers any direct financial loss you experience as a result of the accident. Good examples include vehicle repair or replacement and medical treatment and procedures. This applies to immediate costs and any upcoming bills that may pop up later
Additionally, economic damages apply to situations where your ability to earn money is impaired. If you can no longer work or simply have difficulty accessing work, your loss of potential earnings is deemed as an economic cost of your accident.
When you encounter an accident as a result of another driver, it is not your responsibility to pay for any bills related to it. These costs are economic damages and will directly affect your settlement value.
Non-economic CostsWhere the situation gets a little muddier is when non-economic costs are involved. These are more complicated because you won’t have receipts with exact dollar values for your losses.
Instead, non-economic damages apply to how your life is negatively affected by an accident outside of financial burdens. Your life is unlikely to return to normal after an accident and you may experience many mental challenges as a result of someone else’s misdoings.
With this in mind, you can be compensated for the suffering of an accident. This includes consideration for pain experienced, mental difficulties like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), disfigurements like scarring or lost limbs, or even loss of consortium.
It is extremely hard to assign a value to these losses because your suffering cannot be undervalued. Similar cases are sometimes looked at to see what other accident victims received.
More realistically, you may be offered a value based on either the per-diem approach or the multiplier strategy. The per-diem strategy is more minor and pays out daily for how long the suffering persists.
Alternatively, the multiplier method is more common and uses a set reference number that will be multiplied depending on how significant the accident was.
Both strategies can be ineffective and you may receive an offer that seems unfair. Remember that opposing insurance companies want to limit how much they pay you, so they are likely to undervalue your non-economic suffering. Never accept an unfair offer and ensure you understand how a figure was calculated.
Punitive DamagesIn some accidents, punitive damages may also be appropriate.
These are additional charges that are pressed when the accident is caused or surrounded by especially dangerous and illegal behavior. This includes situations like drunk driving, street racing, or knowingly operating a highly hazardous vehicle.
Punitive damages are not intended to cover losses for you, but rather serve to send a clear message that the offending party’s behavior is extremely dangerous and likely would’ve resulted in a crash with someone else if not you.
With this in mind, they are typically applied toward the end of a successful personal injury lawsuit. They are not direct calculations of your damages, but they can add to your settlement value if the other driver was especially reckless.
Wrongful DeathShould the accident result in a fatality of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can recover damages for the surviving family members of an accident.
A wrongful death means another party behaved negligently and their actions directly resulted in a death. They didn’t intend to kill anyone, but their failure to avoid unsafe actions produced a fatal outcome.
This can be quite devastating for surviving family members that have now lost a significant person in their life. Not only that, but this can also have serious financial ramifications if a primary earner is killed in an accident.
For these situations, wrongful death calculations for economic and non-economic losses will be made to help a deceased accident victim’s family. These cases tend to be more straightforward than personal injury lawsuits because the requirements for proof are far more relaxed, meaning an easier resolution for your family.
Accident Circumstances Determine CompensationA final consideration point is that your accident’s circumstances will determine your compensation value.
Not all car accidents are the same and some are far more severe than others. Even with seemingly minor crashes, your resulting injuries can be significant and debilitating enough to cause serious suffering and strain.
Because there are so many factors that can affect the value of your accident, an accurate and fair evaluation is incredibly difficult. Low settlement offers are common and you don’t want an unsatisfying ending to a crash that you didn’t cause.
That said, consider contacting a lawyer about your car accident to see if you have a good case for a personal injury lawsuit. They can provide an expert opinion and help you identify what your situation is worth.
Better yet, they’ll fight for you to ensure you receive a worthy settlement without costing anything until you are paid. Car accidents are highly stressful and you need all the help you can get to manage the legal side of things.
Closing ThoughtsCar accidents happen regularly and they typically involve one of the drivers causing the accident through negligence or downright poor driving. These are then typically handled through personal injury lawsuits to compensate for damages you incur as a result of the accident.
The damages you can usually recover after a car crash include economic expenses and non-economic costs. Punitive damages are occasionally pressed in particularly dangerous situations. Should the accident result in a fatality, a wrongful death civil lawsuit may be appropriate instead.
If you’ve been in an accident and it wasn’t your fault, then you deserve to have any losses, financial or emotional, covered.
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