When another driver injures you in a car accident, you can seek compensation. The amount of money you can pursue depends on many different factors discussed in this blog. Contact a car accident lawyer today if you want more answers about how much your car accident case may be worth.
Negligence and Gross Negligence
If you hire an attorney, they will investigate the accident. The accident investigation will uncover whether the at-fault party acted intentionally or negligently. Their actions make a difference, as you could recover additional compensation if the court finds that they acted in a grossly negligent or intentional way.
When someone does not use the level of care that an ordinary person would use under similar circumstances, that person is negligent. Often, inattention or carelessness causes injuries. For example, someone who runs a stop sign is negligent.
Grossly Negligent Behavior
When someone is grossly negligent, that person or entity has a reckless and deliberate disregard for the safety of others. For example, someone speeding through a crowd of pedestrians is grossly negligent. The court might deem a distracted driver or a drunk driver grossly negligent in some cases.
Although intent rarely factors into car accidents, it can happen. Road rage, for instance, can cause intentional behavior. For instance, if a driver wants to pass a vehicle traveling in the left lane but cannot do so, they might tap the other vehicle’s rear bumper to scare them. The bump could cause the driver to spin out and wreck.
Another example of intentional behavior is brake checking someone to cause an accident. Brake checking occurs when the front driver suddenly hits their brakes for no reason, causing a rear driver to crash into them.
Proving Your Case
If the person who caused your accident acted negligently, you must establish four elements to prove your case.
The four elements are:
- Duty: You must show that the at-fault party owed you a duty. Drives owe a duty of care to others on the road; they must control their vehicles to avoid accidents.
- Breach: You must show that the other party violated their duty.
- Causation: You must show that the other party’s actions or inactions were negligent, grossly negligent, or intentional and directly caused your injuries. For example, the other party would not have caused the accident if they hadn’t driven under the influence.
- Harm: Finally, you must show that the other party’s actions directly caused your injuries.
If you have a lawyer on your side, they will gather the evidence you need to prove the other driver acted negligently or intentionally, thus causing your injuries.
After investigating your case and reviewing your medical expenses, your legal team works with other medical professionals to estimate a fair settlement amount. They will account for both economic and non-economic damages in their calculations.
Sometimes called special damages, economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property
- Death-related expenses
Sometimes called general damages, non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function
- Amputation of a limb or digit, scarring, or disfigurement
Usually, the court only orders a defendant to pay punitive damages if the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. While obtaining punitive damages does take extra steps and time, it is worth doing so if you deserve them.
When the court orders a defendant to pay punitive damages, it punishes the defendant’s behavior—and it could significantly increase the amount of money you receive after a car accident.
Converting Damages to a Money Award
Calculating economic damages is often easier than calculating non-economic damages since those items have a set monetary value. If the court awards you future medical expenses, doctors can testify how much your future medical care could cost. To determine the loss of future earning capacity, your lawyer factors in your current wages, age, and retirement age.
Computing an award for non-economic damages is more complicated. These items do not have a set monetary value. No one can put a dollar amount on the loss of the ability to walk or the loss of a loved one. Lawyers use formulas to determine what insurance companies should pay for these losses.
If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one because of a car accident, contact a car accident lawyer for a free case evaluation to find out how much money you could get in a settlement.