Loss Categories in Auto Accidents: Damages, Injuries, Disability & Death
If you've been in a car crash that was someone else's fault, you may be wondering what factors go into calculating how much compensation you deserve.
Winning a Personal Injury Lawsuit
First, let's take a step back. To win a personal injury lawsuit, you and your automobile accident attorney must prove:
- The other driver had a responsibility to avoid getting into an accident. (This is known as the duty of care.)
- The driver was negligent and caused an accident.
- You were injured as a result and suffered damages, or accident-related expenses.
The damages you suffered are directly related to the compensation you will receive. However, some states' negligence laws may allow you to recover additional compensation if the other driver was grossly negligent. (These are usually called punitive damages.) And if you shared any responsibility for the accident, your compensation may be decreased in direct proportion to your share of responsibility.
Types of Damages
The major categories of damages are:
- Medical expenses: Including past and future doctor's bills, hospital costs, physical therapy, prescription drugs and medical equipment for treating your accident-related injuries
- Damages to your property: Including the cost to repair or replace your motor vehicle, as well as any personal property (such as clothing) that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
- Temporary or permanent disability: Including compensation not only for the temporary or permanent inability to perform certain tasks, but also the cost of hiring someone (such as a cleaning service or lawn-care service) to do chores that you're unable to do
- Lost wages: Including time off work as you recover from your injuries, as well as any time you must take off for doctor's appointments and physical therapy
- Pain and suffering: Including compensation for physical pain, emotional pain and stress
- Other accident-related expenses
If a loved one was killed in an auto accident, then your family can file a special type of personal injury lawsuit known as a wrongful death lawsuit. When calculating compensation in a wrongful death situation, the attorneys, insurance companies and courts will look at a number of factors, including the person's age, earning potential, funeral costs, loss of employment benefits to his or her survivors, and loss of companionship to family members.
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