Car accidents cause injuries ranging from minor cuts and scrapes to death. In Texas, an accident victim could recover two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. An experienced car injury lawyer can help you with filing a claim and figure out how much your pain and suffering are worth with the medical experts.
Many factors influence the value of a personal injury claim, which we explore in this blog.
The court orders defendants to pay compensatory damages in an attempt to make the accident victim whole again. There are two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages have an exact monetary value. On the other hand, non-economic damages do not, but they still cause financial harm.
#1. Economic Damages
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages include:
#1.1. Medical Expenses
- Doctor’s appointments
- Surgeries and follow-up appointments
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs
- Therapeutic appointments, including psychological, occupational, physical, and cognitive therapies
- Ambulatory aids
- Hand controls for your vehicle
- Updates to your home, including wheelchair ramps, grab bars, widening halls and doorways, and installing lift chairs for stairs
#1.2. Lost Wages
After an accident, you might recover lost wages if your injuries prevent you from working. If your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, you could also seek the loss of future earning capacity. In many cases, an accident victim can recover a lump sum equivalent to their current salary from the date of the wreck until their average retirement age.
#1.3. Personal Property
Victims can pursue compensation for damaged or destroyed personal property, including their vehicle. Other valuable items might include cell phones, computers, or clothing.
#1.4. Death-Related Expenses
If your loved one died in a car accident, you could also recover expenses related to their death. These include funeral and burial expenses, cremation expenses, and probate court expenses. You might recover attorneys’ fees for a probate attorney as well.
#2. Pain and Suffering and Other Non-Economic Damages
You may also seek non-economic damages, including the costs of:
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life if you must make life-long changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or participate in activities
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a foot or arm
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, such as lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, home repair and maintenance, and house cleaning
- Amputation of a limb or digit
- Scarring or disfigurement
When does the Court Award Pain and Suffering?
Usually, the court only awards non-economic damages if your injuries lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. Texas law does not define long-term disabilities, but the Social Security Administration defines long-term disabilities as any that last longer than 12 months or cause death.
Additionally, you could recover non-economic damages if you lost a loved one in a car accident, including pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
How do I know if My Injuries are Long-Term?
When you retain a car accident lawyer, they will investigate your accident and review your medical records. Often, medical records contain many clues that show whether doctors believe your injuries will become long-term or permanent disabilities.
However, the at-fault party’s insurance company might not take your doctor’s word for this. If necessary, your lawyer might hire expert medical witnesses to testify about your condition. A medical expert is a doctor, usually board-certified, who has experience treating the type of injuries you sustained and testifying in court.
If you suffered a traumatic brain injury, head, neck, shoulder, or back and spinal cord injuries, you might have long-term or permanent disabilities. Working with a personal injury lawyer can help you figure out how much your future treatment might cost and how it influences the value of your claim.
Can I Seek Pain and Suffering for Emotional Injuries?
Yes, in some cases. If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you could recover pain and suffering, including emotional distress. You might also recover these damages if your traumatic accident caused psychological issues. For example, if a vehicle runs a stoplight and hits a new mother’s van, she might panic for her baby’s safety. It takes just an instant for those thoughts to flash through her brain. Even after she looks back and sees that her child did not suffer severe injuries, the trauma has already set in her mind. She might develop anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder after the accident.
Psychological conditions often need professional intervention, especially if you experienced extreme stress or trauma in the accident.
Should I Document My Recovery?
When you document your recovery, you can help your lawyer and the medical experts determine the extent of your injuries. Documenting your recovery—even when you seem to make little to no progress—helps your legal team and medical professionals determine whether your injuries might lead to long-term or permanent disabilities for a pain and suffering award.
No attorney can estimate how high your pain and suffering award could be without examining your injuries’ physical and emotional effects on you. If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident, contact a car accident lawyer for a free case evaluation. A lawyer can talk you through the steps of filing a claim and figure out how much your case is worth.