Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Over a Car Accident? What's your Case Really Worth?
Determining the financial, physical, and mental costs of your injury comes down to damages. If the defendant in your case is found to be negligent, his or her conduct may also be punished.
Damages are injuries and other losses you’ve suffered that are associated with the car accident. Generally, the more severe the injuries, the higher the amount of compensable damages there will be.
Monetary damages are paid to the injured person (plaintiff) by the person or company (defendant) who is found to be liable for the accident. The amount may be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement, or a personal injury lawsuit may be filed and the case will be litigated in court. In this case, the final amount of damages is ordered by a judge or jury following a trial.
Damages like compensation for medical bills or property loss are somewhat simple to quantify, as they are typically a set dollar amount. Putting a dollar amount on general damages such as pain and suffering can be much more challenging. Determining just compensation for general damages is unique to each personal injury case, as they are subjective in nature and can be difficult to quantify.
Typically, damages for a car accident may include:
- Medical Bills: The cost of medical care associated with the accident. This includes compensation for treatment you've already received, and for the estimated cost of any future medical care you will require due to the accident.
- Lost Wages: You may be entitled to compensation for the accident's impact on your income. This can include not only immediate losses due to the accident, but also earnings you would have been able to make in the future. This type of damage award is considered compensation for an accident victim's "loss of earning capacity."
- Property Loss: If your vehicle or any other property was damaged because of the accident, you may be entitled to reimbursement for the value of the property that was lost.
- Pain and Suffering: You may be entitled to compensation for the pain you suffered during and after the accident. This includes any trauma incurred (mental or physical).
- Emotional Distress Emotional distress damages are meant to compensate a plaintiff for the psychological impact of an accident or injury, and can include fear, anxiety, and depression.
- Loss of Enjoyment If injuries caused by the accident keep you from enjoying once-loved activities like exercise, hobbies and recreational activities, you may be entitled to receive compensation.
- Loss of Companionship Also known as loss of consortium, these damages typically relate to the impact the injuries have on the plaintiff's relationships; for example, the loss of companionship of a partner or the inability to maintain a sexual relationship. In some cases, the separate impact on the relationship between a parent and child may also be considered.
When determining non-economic damages, your attorney may seek answers to some of the following questions:
- How severe are your injuries?
- How much medical treatment have you received?
- How much treatment will you need in the future?
- Are you expected to make a full recovery?
- Are there permanent or long-lasting effects?
- How have your injuries impacted your daily life and relationships?
When the defendant's conduct is deemed to be particularly egregious or careless, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Although punitive damages are awarded to the injured plaintiff, these kinds of damages are intended to punish the defendant and act as a deterrent.
Settlement Value vs. Trial Value
In any personal injury case, negotiating a settlement requires the determination of a reasonable amount of money you would accept to settle for the damages incurred.
Based on liability and damages, trial value is what you can reasonably expect to win at trial. A competent accident or personal injury lawyer will determine whether or not it is worth taking your case to trial in a personal injury lawsuit.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury resulting from a car accident, employing the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help make a difficult time easier for you and your family.
Our experienced attorneys have litigated many different types of personal injury lawsuits in Citrus County. Contact Lowman Law Firm at (352) 796-0016 or toll-free at (866) 9-LOWMAN.