Federal estimates suggest more than 2 million U.S. drivers suffer injuries in car accidents each year. Another 35,000 plus people lose their lives. For car crash survivors and grieving family members, the damage they suffer can easily exceed millions of dollars. Catastrophic injuries, such as a brain injury or spinal cord injury, can leave survivors unable to work or care for themselves.
Types of Damages in Car Accident Cases
The worth of your auto accident case depends on the damages you suffered. There are different types of damages that include:
- Economic damages. These are damages that include medical bills, lost income (present and future), travel expenses, costs associated with home modifications and funeral expenses.
- Non-economic damages. These damages cover intangible expenses, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium (deprivation of benefits of a family relationship) or loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages. A jury may award punitive damages, which are available in certain cases. Punitive damages are also called “punishment damages” and are only awarded if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious.
How Car Accident Damages Are Calculated
We can use a car accident case involving a spinal cord injury to further explore the concept of damages. Let’s say, for instance, that a 25-year-old healthy male suffers a complete C1 spinal cord injury during a crash.
This person suffered tetraplegia due to the severity of his injuries, meaning that he requires in-home medical care, a ventilator and other medical equipment and home modifications. In addition, he requires travel to a therapist each week, which means he needs travel expenses and vehicle modifications covered. The man was a Wall Street trader making $134,000 a year and can no longer perform the duties required by his former job. These are all examples of economic damages he suffered due to the accident. A jury would consider his lost income, loss of future earning capacity, medical expenses and travel costs.
The man was also a triathlete that had a beautiful wife, who unfortunately left due to an inability to live with her former spouse’s injuries. His enjoyment of life went into a significant downward spiral, causing severe mental anguish on a daily basis. Due to his injuries, he lost his ability to enjoy former activities and no longer has the love and support of his former spouse. These non-economic damages and the man’s pain and suffering could be considered by a jury.
Catastrophic injuries like the one described above can easily saddle accident survivors with millions of dollars in tangible expenses. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, a C1 spinal cord injury could impose more than $4 million in lifetime costs on a healthy 25-year-old male.
Your attorney will use a number of methods to obtain an accurate picture of your economic damages, including medical expert testimony, medical records, income taxes and other evidence. The method for calculating non-economic damages depends on the circumstances of your case.
What If the Insurance Company Contests My Damages?
Insurance companies may contest your non-economic damages, or the merits of your case altogether. Many car accident cases settle. However, it may be necessary to go to trial, if the insurance company refuses to fully compensate you for your damages. For this reason, you should select an attorney who has experience with trials.
An experienced personal injury attorney has the knowledge and resources to contest an insurance company who refuses to negotiate a fair settlement.
About Our Vineland Car Accident Attorneys
The car accident attorneys at Rosner Law Offices, P.C. can help you determine your options for filing a lawsuit. We have experience taking on cases that involve catastrophic injuries. You can schedule a free consultation with Rosner Law Offices, P.C. by calling (856) 692-6500 or by using the contact form on our website.