What Compensation Can I Receive After a Car Accident?
The total economic impact of motor vehicle crashes in American amounts to roughly $871 billion, According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This takes into account things like property damages, unpaid or unreimbursed healthcare costs, medications, lost productivity in the workforce, among other losses.
But for the individual family, the costs are personal. Surviving a car crash often means real economic hardship. It may mean not knowing where the next rent or mortgage payment will come from. It might mean scrambling or borrowing to pay car payments for a vehicle that was totaled, or trying to find ways to squeak by until the injured person can return to work.
At Gartlan Injury Law, we know these challenges and see them every day. We work hard to help people who are struggling through the most challenging times of their lives, and we take great pride in helping families get back on their feet faster.
One of the most important things injury victims usually want to know is what financial compensation they can receive if they are injured in a car accident.
- When Am I Eligible to Receive Compensation?
- What Types of Compensation Are Usually Available?
- Differences Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages
- Importance of Accounting for Future Losses and Needs
- How Much Is My Case Worth?
When Am I Eligible to Receive Compensation?
The first thing any injury victim needs to understand is whether there will be compensation at all. If you were at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, then you are generally not eligible for compensation from someone else. Alabama law is one of the strictest in the country, because if you contributed to your injuries, you might be entirely barred from compensation from anyone else who was involved in the crash. If there is a question about this, you should ask an experienced attorney to find out your options.
If you were at fault for the crash, you may be able to recover some compensation under insurance coverage you carry.
If someone else was responsible for the crash that caused your injuries, then you are entitled to demand that they make you whole by compensating you for your losses.
What Types of Compensation Are Usually Available?
The law breaks down the types of damages that you can claim into two broad categories:
This type of damage is a personal loss of some sort that the defendant should have to pay to make right. The purpose of these types of awards is to make you “whole” or put you back in the position you would have been in if not for the crash.
These types of damages are very rare and are only awarded in exceptional cases, where a defendant knowingly or willfully behaved in reckless disregard for human life and safety. The purpose of these awards is to punish the wrongdoer and hopefully deter them from future misdeeds.
Differences Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Compensatory damages can be further divided into two groups.
An economic damage is anything you can verify with some form of dollar amount evidence. Think of these as damages that come with a receipt. They generally include:
- Payment for medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost income from work
- Future diminished earning capacity
- Reimbursement of lost paid time off
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damages (vehicle and contents)
Non-economic damages are those losses that are less tangible and which relate to human suffering. These generally include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of a normal life
- Lost companionship and affection
- Loss of consortium (loss of the ability to engage in intimacy)
These non-economic damages are just as important as the economic ones and, in fact, they can actually be more important in some cases. Permanent disabilities, such as amputations, paralysis, and lost mobility can devastate a person. At Gartlan Injury Law, we recognize that you are more than the sum of your medical bills. Life, mobility, and personal health and enjoyment are all valuable, and they should be compensated when lost.
Importance of Accounting for Future Losses and Needs
While it’s very important to calculate the economic loss due to medical expenses and lost wages, it’s also important not to overlook the impact your crash will have on your future. Here are a few examples of common situations that require a careful analysis of future damages.
If there is a loss of limb or permanent disability that will likely affect a person’s ability to hold employment in their usual career field, this could mean that even if fully compensated for the past loss of income, this individual may experience a significant decrease in lifetime earnings due to the injuries. This is unfair and should be made right.
Serious or catastrophic injuries often require lifelong treatment. Just consider a typical back injury. Just because your physician releases you from care and says you have reached maximum medical improvement for your condition does not mean you will never need follow-up care. Many severely injured patients, such as those with traumatic brain injuries or organ damage, may need to take medications or receive extensive future medical therapies.
Amputees often experience complications that require further surgical treatments in the future, and they may require prosthetics. Burn victims may require pain management or cosmetic treatments in the future. The point is that the pain and injury may continue for years or for the rest of the victim’s life. It’s important that these things be considered when calculating potential damages.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
This is perhaps the most common question injury victims ask their attorneys. Unfortunately, every case is unique, so it is impossible to give a specific answer to this question. It’s simply not one size fits all.
That said, as a general rule, the more severe the injuries and more medical care that is required to treat the injuries, and the greater the lost income, the greater the overall compensation will likely be.
At Gartlan Injury Law in Dothan, Alabama, we take the time to carefully and thoroughly review each element of damages in order to maximize your compensation. We never charge a consultation fee, and we only get paid if you do. Contact us today to discuss your case, and learn more about how we can help you seek compensation for your car crash injuries.