Cases are fact specific, typically with complex issues of proof and fault in dispute. Working with an experienced attorney will help you sort out your legal options.
Compensation for Your Losses
The injured party in a motor vehicle accident may be able to recover damages from the party or parties who caused the accident. Damages are monetary compensation for the victim’s injuries or losses. Compensable injuries include physical injuries like broken bones, spinal cord injuries and head injuries; the pain and suffering caused by physical injuries may also be compensable.
Damages may also be sought to pay for the victim’s medical bills — bills that arose directly after the accident, in addition to reasonable future medical bills. If the victim requires rehabilitative services or accommodations, such as physical therapy or a ramp leading to the home, these costs may be recovered. The accident victim also may recover lost past and future wages. Compensation for damage to personal property may also be recoverable.
Other damages that are more difficult to quantify may also be sought. Mental pain and suffering may be compensable, as may permanent impairment or disfigurement. Loss of enjoyment of life is also compensable in certain situations.
If the injured person was already suffering from a previous injury, that does not necessarily bar monetary recovery. The accident may have aggravated or worsened the victim’s existing injury, and the new injury can be treated as a separate matter from the underlying injury.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, it is a good idea to keep a daily diary documenting how the injury is affecting you, both emotionally and physically. This can be of great assistance when it comes time to show the effects of the accident.
Spouse’s Damages: Loss of Consortium
Even if the spouse of the motor vehicle accident victim was not in the car at the time of the crash, the spouse may also be experiencing a loss. Almost every state recognizes the claim of loss of consortium. Loss of consortium refers to the negative effect the accident has had on the marital relationship. The marital relationship generally comes with certain benefits, such as companionship, comfort, assistance, sexual relations and affection; the loss of consortium can be temporary or permanent.
It is most often the case that auto accident victims who recover in court or via a settlement are paid by the other driver’s insurance company. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, the accident victim must pursue other means of recovery.
The insurance policy of the victim may have an uninsured-motorist or underinsured-motorist provision that will compensate the victim. Other types of insurance policies, available through the victim’s spouse or employer, may also provide benefits. How significant a benefit and whether it is available depends, of course, on the specifics of the policy itself.
Amount of Financial Recovery
The level of damages to which the auto accident victim may be entitled depends on numerous factors. State law, the victim’s injuries, proving the facts of the case and even the victim’s own actions can come into play. So can the type and length of medical treatment, the insurance coverage of each party, the effect of the accident on the victim’s income and the permanence of the injuries. This is why an experienced attorney can be such a strong ally in planning the case and assessing damages.