If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, and you’ve hired a car accident lawyer to fight your case, you will be entitled to different types of compensation if you win. Not all car accidents warrant the hiring of a personal injury attorney, however, but the serious car accidents that result in injury or death most certainly require an experienced car accident attorney.
In addition to accidents that result in serious personal injury, collisions in which there is a problem with either party’s insurance, you will want to consider consulting an auto accident lawyer. If there are any disputes about liability for the accident, or if the other party or their insurance carrier is refusing to pay for damages, you will want to hire an attorney. Also, if the other party liable for the car accident is a government entity, they may potentially be protected from a lawsuit under “sovereign immunity”; these cases warrant the guidance of a car accident attorney.
Damages I Can Expect if I Win
The specific laws regarding personal injury compensation vary in each state, but for the most part, the damages you’re entitled to if you win are very much the same regardless of where you live.
In all types of personal injury claims including car accidents, there are two types of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that easily calculable: medical bills, lost wages, or anything with a set dollar amount. If you need an assistive device to walk such as a wheelchair or walker, the economic damages associated with that can be easily calculated. Juries tend to understand economic damages, as they are specific dollar amounts applied to services or goods you now require due to the injuries sustained in the car accident. Most of the time, juries don’t have any issue awarding a victim the monetary compensation necessary to cover medical expenses related to the accident.
Future medical expenses may be permitted when a plaintiff can sufficiently prove he will need further medical care due to the car accident. Usually, this type of economic damage is proven with expert testimony from the plaintiff’s doctor. Lost wages is another example of an economic damage as the pay you missed out on while recovering from the car accident can be easily calculated.
Non-economic damages are those associated with pain and suffering since the car accident. Pain and suffering may include any disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past, expected to be experienced in the future. The monetary amount of non-economic damages is not clear-cut like it is for economic damages. Each state uses its own pain and suffering calculations to figure out what a plaintiff is owed after a car accident.
Special vs. General Damages
The term “general damages” refers to damages that are not specifically monetary, like damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional trauma. Loss of consortium is the pain and suffering felt by loved ones following a serious personal injury or death in their family.
“Special damages” have an exact dollar amount. Medical bills, medical equipment, time missed for work, money spent on transportation, medication costs, nursing assistant costs, and similar goods and services are special damages because a specific number can be assigned to these expenses.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering calculations also take many factors into consideration:
- Severity of injuries
- Pain and discomfort
- Impact on life in general
- Medical treatment necessary
- Time for the injuries to heal
- Future care, including physical therapy, medications, surgeries, modifications to the home, etc.
Sometimes formulas are used to calculate pain and suffering damages, and sometimes settlements will utilize what is referred to as the “per diem” (by the day) method, which pays a certain dollar amount for each day you are affected by the accident.
If you’ve been in a car accident, please contact a personal injury attorney in your area to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Your car accident lawyer will explain how his fees work, what damages may be recovered, and what the first step in your case will be; there are statutes of limitation in place in every state, so please don’t delay in contacting an experienced car accident attorney near you.