How to Determine Pain and Suffering And Other Damages in a Car Accident Case
Were you involved in a car accident or other personal injury and you’re wondering what type of damages you’re entitled to? Check out this short blog article to learn more.
There really is no car accident case without ‘damages.’ Damages are an essential element to bring a claim for compensation
In this article, we’re going to tell you how to recover for pain and suffering in your car accident settlement and also what other damages you might be entitled to.
Recovering for Property Damage
The first type of damage is the one that is in every single car accident case, and that’s property damage.
Most car accidents don’t result in injuries. Rather the case simply involves property damage.
There are really two scenarios that come up: one is your car has been damaged, but it can be fixed. And in that case, the insurance company generally will send out an inspector or appraiser to evaluate your car and give an estimate for damages.
The other situation is when your car is a total loss. What is a total loss varies greatly depending on the circumstances. The insurance company will have some sort of formula they will rely on to decide if your car is a total loss and how much the actual cash value of your car is.
There are also other property damages that you don’t want to miss out on. For example, you can recover if your phone, a computer, clothing, or a pair of sunglasses (etc.) were damaged.
What’s the key to recovering for personal property damage? Photographs and receipts. You need to prove your personal injury case by showing that you suffered damage to your personal property as a result of the accident. If you provide that information, generally speaking,you can recover for those types of property damage as well.
Recovering for Medical Expenses
The second type of damage you can recover for is an economic damage and that is medical expenses. If you suffer injuries because of somebody else’s negligence, you can get reimbursed for your medical expenses.
It can be complicated however when health insurance gets involved. They often pay the provider less than the actual amount of the bill and they often seek reimbursement of the money they paid on your behalf.
So, for example, if you recover $100,000 for your damages, that money is intended to cover your medical expenses as well and your health insurance company and/or medical providers are going to have to be reimbursed out of these proceeds.
Medical expenses do not just mean bills paid to the hospital or doctors. It could include personal expenses such as copays or gauze that you had to buy to cover up wounds etc.
Just keep your receipts. You’re entitled to reimbursement for all of these expenses however, oftentimes accident victims don’t say their receipts. Then six or nine or 12 months later they say they want to be reimbursed but there is no evidence of the expense.
I always tell people to document everything – if you don’t have receipts for it, it doesn’t exist.
One final thought on medical expenses, you may be able to recover for future medical expenses as well. So, for example, if you suffered a permanent injury and you’re going to require medical treatment or care for the next 10 years, or even for the rest of your life, that is theoretically compensable as well.
Recovery for Lost Wages
The third type of damage you may be able to recover for after a car accident is lost wages or loss of income.
When you recover for lost wages there are a lot of variables. You have to prove that you lost the wages because of injuries suffered in the car accident.
Documentation becomes critical to recovering significant lost wages. We use a verification form, and we will also seek as much evidence as possible to prove our client lost the wages.
One way to do it is through the use of a lost wages verification form. If you would like a copy of our form, just email us. We’re happy to share it.
Recently cases have come up where a DoorDash driver or an Uber driver has to go into their app to get evidence of what their most recent wages were in order to prove that they actually lost income.
Also, lost wages don’t just refer to an “hourly wage.” It can refer to other things as well. For example, if you had to take vacation pay as a result of your injuries, you should be able to recover for that. Same thing for paid time off and anything else you have to use that you lost income as a result.
One last thought about lost wages, just like medical expenses, if you’re going to lose wages in the future, because you can’t work due to injury suffered in this accident, you can recover for those as well.
So, for example, if you’re a laborer and you, your arm gets broken and you can’t be a laborer anymore, you have to go into a desk job which pays less than you were getting paid as a laborer, you can theoretically recover for the difference. This is a bit complicated so consult with a car accident attorney before attempting this.
Recover for Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident
The fourth type of damage you can recover for now is the one most associated with car accidents, and that is recovering for your pain and suffering.
People always want to know how much their case is worth. Think of it this way, pain and suffering is on a sliding scale with minor injuries on the left and everything up to dismemberment and wrongful death on the right. How much you recover for your pain and suffering slides in between.
If you suffered just a back sprain, chances are, you’re not going to recover much for your pain and suffering. But if you have a herniated disc or broken bones or a severe injury, chances are that your pain and suffering was much more severe.
It is very difficult to know how much someone can recover until we have reviewed all the medical records. We need to see what your medical diagnoses were, what your injuries were, whether you suffered permanent injuries, how much your medical bills are etc. Then we can try and figure out a number to demand for your pain and suffering.
The one thing I can tell you about pain and suffering is that unlike the 1980s or even 1990s, there’s no multiplier that you can use to figure out how much your pain and suffering is.
People used to take their medical expenses and multiply it times 1.5 or two or three and then demand that much from State Farm or Allstate. It doesn’t work that way anymore.
Recovery for Loss of Consortium or Loss of Companionship
A fifth type of damage that car accident victims might recover for that most people don’t know about is called loss of consortium, or sometimes it’s called loss of companionship.
If you get in a serious accident, it is possible that your injuries could have a dramatic effect on your relationship with your significant other. For example, you may not be able to engage in sex for 12 months because of the accident. The significant other may be able to file their own claim for loss of consortium.
One thing to know is that if the car accident victim’s case loses and/or is denied, then the claim for loss of consortium will lose as well.
People try to use this claim often, but I’ve found that to really recover for this is successful in really large claims.
By the way it doesn’t have to be just loss of sex, but it could be based on loss of companionship or if it puts some other sort of burden on the spouse.
Recovering for Permanent Damages or Disfigurement
Permanency is not a ‘type’ of damage per se. But it’s critical to your claim. Permanency refers to the fact that the injuries you suffered are in fact permanent – meaning, for example, that you will walk with a limp the rest of your life. Or perhaps you were you bitten by a dog on your face which resulted in scarring.
If you can demonstrate permanency as a result of an injury suffered in an accident, it is a significant contributor to how much you may or may not recover in your accident.
We prove permanency through medical records, your testimony and also often through the testimony of expert witnesses.
Can You Recover Punitive Damages After a Car Accident?
There is one type of damage that people often want to recover for in personal injury cases, but you can’t – these are called punitive damages.
Punitive damages are a form of penalty – they’re meant to punish the other party.
A car accident is generally a negligence case. Somebody accidentally caused the ‘accident.’ You cannot recover punitive damages in that situation.
Note that if there is an intentional act – e.g., an assault and battery case where somebody intentionally punches you in the face, punitive damages might then be an option. That raises other issues as insurance doesn’t normally cover intentional acts.
Just remember, that generally speaking, you cannot recover punitive damages after a car accident.
Were you involved in an accident and have questions about the type of damages you can recover for or how much your pain and suffering is worth, call our Chicago auto accident lawyers today at 1-847-305-4105.
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