What damages can I get in a car accident case?
If you have been in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver there are a few terms you will need to become familiarized with, one of them being damages. Damages refers to monetary awards to an injured party in a personal injury lawsuit. Within the category of damages there are several damages that it is possible to recoup. The types of damages you can receive are dependent upon the type of accident you were in – that is, the extent of the injuries suffered, and any property damage incurred. When you call a local car accident attorney they can help advise you on the damages in your accident case.
Qualifying for Damages
With vehicle accidents in Alabama, the other driver must be entirely “at fault” for the other driver to receive damages from insurance companies and from a future lawsuit. The injured party must be able to demonstrate to the insurance companies that the other driver was solely responsible for the circumstances surrounding the accident, lest the case become one of contributory negligence – meaning that both drivers bear a level of responsibility.
Types of Damages
When you are able to prove that the other driver is 100% responsible for the accident, there are a few different types of damages you can recover. The categories include economic, general (or non-economic), and punitive.
This is a straightforward category, and the easiest to quantify. They are the actual monetary losses that you accrue. The types of damages within this category include:
- Medical costs: these are the largest expenses that a car accident victim can expect to have. Damages claims in this category can cover hospital bills, surgery costs, physical and occupational therapy, and any other ongoing medical costs.
- Lost wages: if the accident you were in causes you to miss work, you can recoup the costs for the number of days that you missed.
- Loss of future earnings: if your accident causes long-term or permanent damage that makes it so that you are unable to go back to work for a long period or not at all, then you will need to calculate the value of what you would have earned.
- Property damage: this would be the damage to your vehicle and/or any property that was in your car at the time of the accident.
General or Non-Economic Damages
This category is a little more abstract, in that they are more subtle and harder to quantify, due to a lack of billing, or other straightforward costs. General damages can include the following:
- Pain and suffering: These include the enduring pain that one deals with after an accident.
- Psychological distress: car accidents can be traumatic, and you may feel trepidation regarding getting back into a vehicle, feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness, and other emotional issues.
- Quality of life problems: depending on the extent and/or permanence of your injury, you may find it difficult to partake in activities you previously enjoyed.
- Loss of Consortium: in the event of a serious injury or death, people close to the victim can pursue damages. In the case of wrongful death, the party can sue for loss of companionship, guidance, and support.
This is a unique category of damages, since instead of recouping costs for damage or harm like the other two categories, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for causing the accident. These types of damages take into account the Defendant’s willful or malicious conduct in causing the accident, with factors that include:
- The character of the defendant
- How many material assets the defendant has
- How much potential harm the defendant might cause to future victims
- How much harm they caused in this case