A car accident can be devastating for victims, their families, and their lives. Left with various expenses, it’s common to ask, “what can you claim in a car accident?” There are various types of damages that can be claimed, and if you’re a victim, understanding them is crucial to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Whether you’re dealing with medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, or emotional distress, knowing your rights can make a significant difference in the aftermath of a vehicle accident.
In personal injury law, damages refer to the financial compensation sought by the injured party as a result of the accident. In order to have a successful claim, it’s crucial that the other party’s actions led to the accident, also known as negligence. This is important whether it was a minor car accident or something more severe like a t-bone accident or head-on collision. There are two main categories of damages in a car accident claim: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are the concrete financial losses that result from a car accident. The victim has either already experienced these financial losses or will experience them in the future, and they can be tied to a specific numeric value. There are different types of economic damages, each representing a different aspect of the accident’s financial impact.
Medical expenses are one of the most significant components of economic damages. These costs include hospital bills, emergency care, rehabilitation and therapy, prescription medications, mental health counseling, medical equipment, and more. Whether you have a more minor injury like whiplash or a serious back injury, seeking medical treatment is essential, and a claim settlement or judgment can provide full compensation for that treatment. This compensation can also encompass any future medical bills you’ll be required to pay over time due to accident-related injuries. Any ongoing care needs will be assessed by medical experts who can estimate the total cost of these future medical bills.
Car accidents ultimately result in some form of property damage, which causes a loss of value. Seeking this aspect of economic damages compensates the victim for any material losses that occurred due to an accident. Property damage can include the costs of repairing or replacing a vehicle as well as any personal belongings that were damaged in the accident. As a victim, you may receive payment to cover these costs, or payment that would cover any reduction in value due to the damage resulting from the accident.
Some injuries may result in an inability to work in a typical capacity, or even cause you to have to leave your job entirely. Any time away from work means missing out on wages, resulting in financial losses whether it’s being completely out of the office, having to use vacation or sick time, or working at a reduced capacity. This would make you eligible for compensation to make up for lost wages.
If injuries have affected your ability to earn a living moving forward, the economic damages should include monetary compensation for lost earning capacity. When determining the amount of potential future earnings you may miss out on, several factors are considered, including the extent of your impairment, the industry you work in, your age, and future earning potential, both pre- and post-accident. Compensation for loss of income could also be awarded in the event of a wrongful death, particularly if the individual had a large impact on the financial well-being of others.
Non-economic damages can be a bit more challenging to quantify as they center on the emotional toll an accident can take on your overall quality of life and well-being. These include things such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, or loss of companionships or consortium if a relationship is affected by injuries. Some states have caps on the amount of money you can receive from non-economic damages, so be sure to consult with your lawyer to determine the compensation you should seek.
Pain and suffering can include any physical and emotional pain, mental anguish, and trauma that you are experiencing because of the accident. Although these damages are all classified as intangible, they are just as important as economic damages in recognizing the full impact of the accident.
Emotional distress, while also intangible, is critical to recognize. It encompasses the psychological effects of an accident such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Damages for emotional distress acknowledge the toll accidents can take on your overall mental health.
Loss of consortium refers to the adverse impact the accident may have on personal relationships and companionship. This can include loss of companionship, affection, love, comfort, sexual intimacy, and fertility. Because of the nature of this claim, cases involving loss of consortium can be brought by close family members or spouses of the injured victim in order to recover damages from the responsible party.
Punitive damages serve a different purpose than other types of damages as they are meant to punish the responsible party for particularly egregious behavior and deter future misconduct. These are frequently sought in cases of wrongful death and awarded in rare cases that meet specific criteria. In most states, punitive damages are an option in a wrongful death lawsuit if it is determined that the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally, resulting in the death.
While there really is no way to guarantee the amount of damages you’ll receive in a car accident claim, taking certain steps when building your case can help maximize your compensation.
Navigating complex car accident claims can be challenging, but understanding the types of damages available can help in seeking fair compensation. Knowing the nuances of economic and non-economic damages means you can better advocate for your rights and continue on the path of recovery.
Professional legal advice can make all the difference in ensuring a successful claim, and when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, it’s crucial to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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