Calculating Damages in a Car Accident Lawsuit
If you have been injured in a car accident, whether physically injured or financially injured or both, and the car accident was caused by the negligence of another party, you can sue that other party for your damages. Whether the negligent party was another driver, truck driver, motorcyclist, manufacturer of a defective vehicle, or other party, they will be liable to pay for your damages (as will their employer if the accident occurred during their scope of employment). While establishing fault on the part of the other party – namely that the accident occurred as a result of their careless or reckless actions – is necessary, one of the most important aspects of your car accident lawsuit will be working with a car accident lawyer to calculate your damages so that you can win maximum recovery in a settlement or judgment.
Your Medical Costs
In serious car accidents, oftentimes hospitalization is required, with repeated medical attention needed in the coming months and even years in the case of catastrophic accidents involving spinal injuries or brain injuries. A negligent party is required to pay for all of the medical costs that you incur from your accident, even those far in the future, and your attorney will work with your medical providers to establish an estimate of the lifetime costs of the medical care you need.
The Damage to Your Property
Assuming you were the owner of a car involved in the accident, the other party can be liable for covering the costs of the full amount of damage to your vehicle and any other property that might have been damaged or destroyed.
Your Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are intended to compensate car accident victims for the discomfort and trauma that they feel in the weeks, months, and years following an accident. While it may seem difficult to quantify this cost, your attorney will look at pain and suffering awards that have been made in cases similar to yours, and work towards an award that fairly compensates you for your unwanted pain and suffering.
Your Inability to Work / Lost Wages
If you are unable to work following a car accident, the defendant should compensate you for the loss of income that you will suffer as a result. This could be lost wages from a job you are unable to go into, lost business income that you would have made, and/or the differential between what you can earn following the accident vs. what you would have earned had the accident not occurred.
Other Factors That Can Affect Your Damages
All that said, there may be a number of factors that affect exactly how much of a financial recovery you will ultimately obtain. Again, fault must be proven in a car accident case, and if it appears that proving fault involves some challenges, a defendant may offer you a settlement that is less than your full damages in order to avoid trial, and it will be up to you and your attorney to determine whether accepting that offer is your best option.
Also, a defendant may argue that you yourself were at least partially negligent in causing the accident, and, while this does not necessarily mean you cannot recover, it may also be a factor leading to a reduced settlement or a smaller judgment at trial. An experienced car accident attorney can assess your particular situation and work towards the best recovery possible on your behalf given your circumstances.
Read more about how we help out clients with car accident cases.