Types of Compensation For Car AccidentsLast updated on: March 19, 2015
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Car accidents can be dangerous and expensive, as you may have injuries as well as repair costs to your vehicle. Knowing what types of compensation are available may help you determine how much your car accident case is worth.
This article will explain the different types of compensation available for car accidents. A personal injury attorney may be your next step.
What Can I Recover in a Car Accident?
There are two main categories of compensation. These categories are economic damages and non-economic damages. Both damages will be paid in the form of financial compensation. You may be eligible to recover under one or both categories, depending on the details of your particular accident and the harm you suffered.
Economic damages may be recoverable for any out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred as a result of your car accident.
Economic damages for yourself
You may be able to recover for any medical expenses associated with injuries you may have sustained as a result of the car accident. Every car accident is different, and you may have minor injuries and few hospital bills or catastrophic injuries that require ongoing care. Some economic damages you may be able to recover as a result of injuries in a car accident include:
- Medical bills
- Follow-up visits to the doctor
- Future treatment and care
- Rehabilitation or physical therapy
- In-home care
- Prescription medications
Medical devices such as wheelchairs
Lost wages and income
If your injuries after a car accident are severe enough that you are unable to work, then you may be able to recover lost wages as a form of economic damage. Your lost wages will be determined based on a calculation of how much you make and how much work you have to miss due to your injuries.
The type of work you do will also factor into calculation. For example, if you are a surgeon and you suffer nerve damage that makes you unable to operate so that you are forced to have to accept work that pays less than a surgeon, you may be able to recover loss of future income.
A car accident compensation attorney may be able to assist in helping you determine how much your car accident case is worth, and possibly how to receive the maximum recovery possible.
Economic damages for loss of a family member
Economic damages will also help cover costs in the unfortunate event that a family member passes away as a result of a car accident. This type of claim is called a wrongful death action. Economic damages can cover some of the costs associated with the death, such as:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills leading up to the death
- Legal costs of managing estate
Economic damages for your property
If your car was damaged as a result of a car accident, you may be able to recover the cost of repairs or a replacement vehicle, depending on the extent of the damage. You may still be able to recover compensation from the other driver if they were at fault even if you have insurance. It is important to note that your insurance may not cover everything, and you may have additional costs.
How are economic damages calculated?
Economic damages can be calculated using bill statements and receipts. Economic damages are easy to calculate because there will be a bill proving exactly how much the repairs or hospital visit cost you.
Punitive damages are a very rare form of damages. Punitive damages are given as a punishment to the defendant in an effort to deter similar bad behavior in the future. These types of damages may be given in cases where the actions were egregious and done with intention.
Non-economic damages will refer to suffering caused by the emotional distress of dealing with an accident. Each individual will have a different calculation because people deal with trauma and pain in different ways. Non-economic damages are not as easily calculated because they are subjective to what the victim experiences and are determined by various factors. Some common examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental health counseling
- Substance abuse counseling
- Post-traumatic stress from the accident
- Accident-related anxiety or depression
- Mental anguish
- Long-lasting disabilities or diminished functioning
- Loss of quality of life
- Inconvenience of being injured and unable to enjoy daily activities
How are non-economic damages calculated?
Non-economic damages are calculated based on the severity of the injury, length to recover, and extent of medical treatment. Those who suffer substantial injuries such as the loss of a limb or loss of eyesight will likely receive more compensation for pain and suffering than someone who only suffers broken bones.
Who Will Pay for My Claims?
If you are in a car accident and it was the other driver who was at fault, you may be able to recover damages from that driver’s insurance. If that person does not have enough insurance coverage for all of your damages, you may choose to sue them directly.
What Does Insurance Cover?
All states require drivers to carry insurance to drive. The amount of insurance varies by state. The purpose of insurance is to help alleviate the costs of damages in the event of an accident, for both you and the other driver. Some insurance policies can help you pay for repairs to your vehicle even if the other driver is underinsured or uninsured.
Driving without insurance is against the law in every state, but some drivers choose to drive without insurance. This would normally mean that the other driver will become personally liable to you for your injuries and should pay you directly instead of having their insurance pay you. However, in most cases, the other driver will not have significant assets to pay you for your damages.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in most states, but some states may require that it be offered for purchase. Uninsured motorist coverage will not apply to damage to the car itself, but will apply to physical injuries to yourself and passengers.
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Long-term care
- Medical devices
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
- Permanent disabilities
Uninsured motorist coverage is for yourself and your passengers should you be injured in a car accident by someone who does not carry any liability car insurance. If the other driver was underinsured, then your insurance will help cover the costs unpaid for. Uninsured motorist coverage can also be used if the other driver’s insurance denies coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage can help in situations such as:
Hit and run accidents
- Accidents while traveling out of state
- If you were the passenger in someone else’s car in an accident
- Being hit as a pedestrian
Common Injuries in a Car Accident
The extent of your injuries will determine how much car accident compensation you will receive. Car accidents can cause serious injuries. Some of the most common include:
- Scrapes, cuts, bruising
- Herniated discs
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Wrongful death
- Loss of limb
How Much Compensation is Possible?
Car accident claims are usually brought under the legal theory of negligence. All negligence cases are unique and different. Because of this, there is no average cost of compensation for a negligence claim or a personal injury claim. Car accidents can vary widely in damages.
The type of negligence that led to your car accident may be minor, such as a bump at a stop light, or major, such as driving under the influence. The severity of injuries will vary person to person and there may be long-term effects to your injuries. All of these will factor in to how much compensation you might receive.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has a statute of limitations, or a time limit, for filing personal injury claims. A car accident can give rise to a personal injury claim. In many states, the statute of limitations for filing a negligence claim is two years, but some states may have a longer time limit.
The statute of limitations begins to run the moment of your injury, so filing a claim as soon as possible is important. It is crucial that you contact a car accident compensation lawyer to help assess your claim for damages as quickly as possible.
Zinda Law Group May Help You Seek Damages
At Zinda Law Group, our car accident compensation attorneys are experienced and have handled many cases involving car accidents. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine how much your car accident case is worth, what to do next, and how to recover the best possible outcome for your case.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.