For a short time in California, the number of accidents appeared to be on the decline. The California Office of Traffic reported that while 13,133 accidents occurred during 2007, there were only 10,369 accidents in 2010. In 2015, however, the negative impact of car accidents appeared to be on the rise again. The Los Angeles Times detailed that traffic deaths in California in the first half of 2015 jumped to 20 percent over 2014 with 1,566 deaths. Regardless of the exact number of damages due to automobile crashes in California, one fact remains the same: automobile accidents often lead to property damage, physical injury, and sometimes fatalities.
This article will explore the various types of compensation available to make victims of automobile accidents “whole” or return individuals injured by car crashes as close to how life was prior to the crushing effects of the car crash. Understanding the available types of compensation for damages suffered due to an injury will help you learn what types of damages you might have endured in an automobile accident.
The Types of Compensation Available
For victims of automobile accidents, there are two main types of damages available: compensatory and punitive. While compensatory damages are more popular, in the most damaging and grievous of cases, punitive damages may also be available.
Compensatory damages are the most common type of compensation received for automobile accidents. These types of damages are designed to “compensate” an automobile crash victim for a variety of things lost during a vehicle accident. There are two types of compensatory damages: monetary and non-monetary. Monetary damages are easy to attach a financial figure to, while non-monetary damages are less tangible amounts that can be harder to calculate.
These losses have assignable monetary values. The purpose of economic damages is to compensate for quantifiable losses. Some examples of economic losses include:
Medical Treatment. The most frequently cited type of economic damages, medical treatment includes current or future costs incurred by victims due to the automobile accident. Medical treatment can include trips to the doctor’s office, pharmaceutical costs, and physical therapy.
Income. You are entitled to compensation due to wages lost as a result of accidents suffered during an automobile accident. An automobile victim may also claim compensation for any work missed for the receipt of medical treatment. The category of income also includes future money lost based on earning potential and if you are unemployed then seasonal work or missed job interviews. If an individual dies during an automobile accident, the individual’s family members can sue for the totality of income lost due to the accident.
Property Damage. Any damage to vehicle, buildings, yard architecture or clothing can be included in property damages compensated for an automobile accident. An individual may also be compensated for damage to property contained within a car. Calculating the worth of property damage as a result of an automobile accident might prove difficult because the property might be partially damaged at the time of the accident.
Non-economic damages are designed to compensate victims for immeasurable losses. These intangible and harder to calculate non-economic losses include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
Emotional Distress. Frequently linked to the most serious of car accidents, damages for emotional distress compensate a variety of negative emotions including fear, anxiety, and stress.
Loss of Consortium. “Loss of consortium” refers to the loss of companionship faced by spouses or family members when a loved one is injured. While often less than other types of compensatory damages, damages due to loss of consortium in the most serious of automobile accidents can lead to significant amounts.
Loss of Enjoyment. Injuries that keep you from doing any activity that you enjoyed before the accident can entitle one to recover damages for “loss of enjoyment.”
Pain and Suffering. This category refers to pain and discomfort suffered as the result of an accident. This category may also include pain and suffering that may extend into the future. Pain and suffering are highly individualized terms because each individual’s tolerance and pain threshold are different. Certain factors, however, can be used to measure one’s pain levels. In addition to medical examination, the automobile crash victim’s friends and family will be interviewed to determine how pain and suffering have impacted the individual’s life. An individual who is able to establish a greater presence of pain and suffering will be entitled to recover a larger amount of compensation.
The purpose of punitive damages is to punish parties responsible for particularly outrageous, careless, or reckless acts. Punitive damages are designed to punish parties to prevent the additional reckless behavior. Punitive damages may be rewarded in addition to compensatory damages. The burden relies on defendants to establish that punitive damages are deserved. When a plaintiff argues for punitive damages, courts calculate damages based on bills and lost wages. In many cases, punitive damages are awarded when an individual has harmed others in a similar manner. To be a candidate for punitive damages, a defendant must have acted willfully.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
If you are attempting to obtain punitive damages, it is essential to employ the services of a lawyer. A talented lawyer will be well versed with situations that merit punitive damages and the elements that must be established to demonstrate that punitive damages are necessary. In the case of automobile accidents, punitive damages might be rewarded in situations involving driving under the influence. Individuals involved in particularly grievous situations like car accidents due to individuals who were driving under the influence should promptly employ the services of a lawyer who can begin collecting the evidence required to prove that punitive damages are warranted.
If you have been in an auto accident and might be entitled to receive either compensatory or punitive damage, call our skilled car accident attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers as soon as possible for a free consultation to discuss your case.