The main purpose of filing any lawsuit is to recover, or be compensated, for the injuries you have sustained, due to the actions of another. In the auto accident context, you are asking the court to make the driver who was at-fault compensate you for all of your injuries and losses that occurred because of the accident. What you are entitled to receive, in compensation for your injuries, is referred to as “damages” in the legal field. As you can imagine, there are both economic and non-economic damages that you may have suffered following a car accident. So, many clients ask, “what can I sue for after a car accident?” Precisely what type of damages you may be entitled to depends on the facts of each client’s case. But there are certain types of damages that are generally involved in car accident cases.
The difference between economic and non-economic damages
As you may have guessed, economic damages are the easiest to explain and to prove to the court. These are the types of financial losses that you suffer, such as your medical expenses, income you lost from missing time at work, the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, and many others. As long as the financial loss can be attributed to the accident, you may be able to recover for that loss.
Non-economic damages are typically more difficult to prove because they are very subjective. This means they are also more difficult to quantify. For instance, pain and suffering, mental distress, and anxiety are common non-economic damages that are claimed following an auto accident. However, proving them can be a problem. The best evidence would be documentation from a psychologist or counselor who has diagnosed you with these problems and provided you treatment, as well.
What should I do to prove my damages?
The most important thing you can do is retain documentation of your damages. Your medical bills can be proven through your medical records and your lost income can be shown with your pay stubs or time records from your employer. The damages to your car should be evaluated by professionals and repair estimates created.
As for the more subjective, non-economic damages, in addition to any treatment records you may obtain, it also helps to keep a diary of the problems that you have on a daily basis. Keep a written record of your physical discomfort and any limitations you may be experiencing. Take note of the mental or emotional impact your injuries, and the accident in general, have had on your daily life. Although it is not ideal, this may be the only records you have of these subjective damages.
Are there any other types of damages?
Some states allow auto accident victims to recover for, what is known as, “loss of enjoyment” or “loss of consortium.” Loss of enjoyment describes how the accident has prevented you from enjoying your everyday life activities, including your hobbies and recreational activities. Loss of consortium applies more often to the victim’s relationship with his or her spouse. When your injuries from the auto accident impact your relationship with your spouse negatively, you may be able to recover for that loss. Some states also recognize a similar type of damage to the relationship between a parent and child. As the laws in each state are different, you need to consult with your personal injury attorney to determine the types of damages you may be able to recover.
If you have questions regarding car 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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