You may have heard that some lawsuits filed after a serious car accident can result in millions of dollars awarded to the victim. While it’s true that this can happen, it’s not always the case. That’s because the amount of damages awarded to the victim of a car accident works in direct relation to the type and severity of the damages they suffered.
It often goes that the more severe the damages or egregious the actions that resulted in them, the more compensation is rewarded. But ensuring this is the way your own case progresses requires precisely calculating the amount of compensation you can reasonably expect from filing a claim or a lawsuit. And that knowledge can only come from truly understanding how damages work, and turning to the right experts to help you fight for them.
What Damages are Based On
Every auto accident is different, which means the results of every accident are different too. In the best of circumstances, you should hopefully never need to worry about filing a further lawsuit against the responsible party, because that means the injuries you suffered aren’t so severe that they warrant more extensive compensation to help you and your family recover from them. No one should ever hope to suffer those kinds of injuries.
Because not all accidents and injuries are the same, the types and amount of damages that may be awarded to the victim who filed the lawsuit are not the same. They are always based on a series of factors that the involved law teams, insurance companies, and sometimes juries and judges will take into careful consideration. These can include:
- The severity of the injuries caused by the accident
- Who was at fault for the accident, and to what extent (meaning the victim may be found partially at fault, thus affecting the damages awarded to them)
- Whether the at-fault party or parties are adequately insured, or if the injured parties are covered by uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- How many victims were involved in the accident (as more victims typically results in less monetary compensation available per victim)
When taking a look at how the accident happened, who was involved, and what the resulting injuries or other losses were, it can sometimes be hard for lawyers and insurance companies alike to quantify the kind of pain and suffering any one individual is going through in a way that’s feasible for all involved. That’s why this system involves certain types of damages and differences in how they are approached when compensation is being considered.
The Types of Damages
There are two general categories of damages available: general damages and special damages. Each of these are also sometimes referred to as non-economic damages and economic damages.
General or non-economic damages arise naturally from the negligent actions of the defendant due to a clear connection between the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s actions. And the defendant’s ability to anticipate or not anticipate how harmful the injuries they caused often does not prevent the plaintiff from receiving full compensation for these damages. For example, if Driver A is the at-fault driver in an accident with Driver B, who happens to have a rare medical condition that has made their suffered injuries worse, Driver A is still responsible for all of Driver B’s related injuries. That’s true even if what Driver B has suffered might be worse than what someone who does not have the same condition would have suffered.
General damages often include:
- Physical disfigurement
- Physical impairment
- Physical pain and suffering
- Lowered quality of life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship (in those cases involving a wrongful death)
Special or economic damages are rewarded to plaintiffs specifically to financially compensate them for any losses suffered because of their own actions. These damages are quantifiable out-of-pocket expenses lost by the plaintiff, which can be determined by adding up all the financial losses suffered. In this case, those losses must be proven with precise specificity. For example, if that same Driver A who caused the accident totaled Driver B’s vehicle in the process of their actions, then the value of that vehicle can be calculated down to a precise dollar amount to then be awarded to Driver B in order to replace or compensate them for their economic loss.
Some common categories of special damages include:
- Billable medical expenses (both past and future)
- Replacement or repair of damaged property
- Loss of irreplaceable items
- Loss of wages
- Loss of earning capacity
How to Calculate the Damages You Deserve
Calculating the damages you’ve suffered after being involved in a car accident is rarely a precise science from every single angle. You might be able to calculate any special damages you’ve suffered, but how can you be expected to put a dollar amount on the pain, suffering, and mental and emotional damages the whole ordeal has caused you and your family? It may seem like an impossible task, which is why you should never try to navigate that path on your own. You want an expert in these types of situations to be your guide for a number of reasons.
An experienced car accident and personal injury attorney will have not only have taken part in cases similar to yours, but will hopefully have won their clients in those cases fair and just compensation. Because of that, they can help you understand and consider any damages you may have suffered as a result of your own accident. They will spend time getting to know you, learning and researching how the accident occurred, and what your resulting injuries or other damages were. They can help you determine how those damages have affected your life, what any future medical bills or loss of possible earned wages may be as a result, and from there can determine the right course of legal action.
That course may often first involve making calculated demands of the responsible party’s insurance provider. A phase of negotiations will likely occur, during which time it can feel like the damages you’ve suffered are being questioned or diminished by the insurance company. But don’t let that discourage you—this is why you have a legal expert on your side. They will help you determine if the compensation being offered is justifiable, or if your case needs to be taken a step further. They can also hep you determine whether or not going beyond a claim to filing a lawsuit is a wise step to take.
You should always aim for receiving as much compensation for your damages as you’re able to, meaning it’s entirely reasonable to consider both the general and special damages you could be eligible for. And these are other line items your personal injury attorney can help you figure out. For example, did you know you could be compensated for the gas you spend on the miles required to travel to your doctor’s appointments or meetings with insurance representatives? These and other items you may not have considered are ones your lawyer can help you determine and add to your claim.
The Whisler Law Firm has decades of experience helping car accident victims receive the damages they deserve. We can help you determine what kind of damages you might be able to expect should you decide to move forward with your case, and we start that process by conducting an entirely free, no-obligation consultation. So call our office at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online form to schedule some time with an expert from our team.