If you have been injured in an auto accident, and you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can be awarded damages to compensate you for your losses. Usually, damages are meant to compensate for things such as medical expenses for treatment of physical injuries. In some cases, compensation may be awarded for pain and suffering. Punitive damages can be available in certain situations, to punish the person who was at fault. Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to compensation for other pecuniary losses, as well.
Other pecuniary losses
In addition to the typical award for medical expenses, there are other pecuniary losses that may be compensated, after an auto accident. Pecuniary losses are simply financial losses that can be measured precisely. They are typically out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses to and from medical treatment, the cost of hiring someone to perform certain activities the injured person is temporarily unable to perform (e.g., housekeeping, lawn mowing). Other pecuniary losses can also include past and future economic losses, including future medical expenses and lost wages. In some cases a future life care planner and/or an accountant may be helpful in evaluating the future damages that may be appropriate.
The largest pecuniary loss that most personal injury victims incur is the loss of income. In most cases, compensation will include their loss of income from the date of the accident to the date of settlement or trial. It can also include future loss of income that may be a result of injuries they sustained in the accident.
Pecuniary losses in wrongful death cases
Unfortunately, some auto accidents are fatal and lead to wrongful death lawsuits. In those cases, the family members of the deceased person are entitled to recover for pecuniary losses, just as the injured person would have been able to recover, had they not died. Those pecuniary losses could include income that the deceased person would have continued to provide to the family for support. Pecuniary losses, in wrongful death cases, can also include funeral costs.
What are examples of non-pecuniary losses?
Not all injuries or losses are monetary. Non-pecuniary losses are those that cannot be precisely measured. One of the most common examples is “pain and suffering.” Other examples include humiliation, emotional distress, and worsening or exacerbation of a previous injury or illness.
Are catastrophic injuries different?
A catastrophic injury is one that is generally very severe and leads to long-term, if not permanent, disability or disfigurement. Catastrophic injuries typically involve a difficult recovery, multiple surgeries, or possibly a lifetime of medical treatment. Auto accident victims with catastrophic injuries may not be able to return to work.
There are various pecuniary damages that can be recovered for catastrophic injuries, including present and future medical expenses, cost of rehabilitation services, current and future lost wages, and permanent disability coverage. Compensation for future treatment for a “residual injury,” should also be considered.
If you have questions regarding automobile accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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