Injuries are not the only form of harm you may suffer after a car accident. You may have to take time off work to recover, and even after your doctor says recovery is complete, you may have ongoing health issues.
You may be able to receive damages for all of your losses. Damages are the sums of money that you receive as compensation, and there is more than one type of award.
The medical expenses from your injuries may include ambulance fees, hospital bills, health care provider bills, physical and occupational therapy costs and medical device charges. If you need someone to help you at home while you recover, you may also recover compensation for this person’s fees.
Many serious injuries require ongoing or even life-long treatment. The settlement you receive from the insurance company or the award the judge orders should cover projected future medical expenses, as well.
Pain and suffering
Your pain and suffering damages take into account both your physical and your emotional distress that came from the injuries. Unlike medical bills, which have a specific dollar amount on them, people experience pain and suffering in different ways. To figure out how much you want to request, think about:
- How severe your injury is
- What types of treatment you need
- How long the doctors expect your recovery to take
- What your overall health outlook is
- How your injuries affect your life
Ask your doctor to give you his or her opinion in writing about your state of mind and how severe your pain and suffering is, and have a family member share how your injuries affect you and everyone else in the family. Keep a journal as you go through treatment and write down how you feel each day. You may use your own story as evidence in your claim for damages. Any medications the doctor prescribed for you for pain, depression or anxiety could also show the level of your suffering.
Damages should include any wages you did not earn while your injuries kept you from working. If you cannot go back to your job even after you recover, you may also be able to claim the wages you would have earned in the future.
If the person who caused your injuries was acting reckless or in a way that could obviously lead to a serious injury, a judge may punish the bad behavior by awarding punitive damages. For example, the person at fault may have to pay this penalty if he or she was driving distracted or drunk. Punitive damages should discourage the person at fault and others from ever wanting to try that behavior again.