Types of Damages in a Car Accident Claim

Lawyers often use the term “damages” when discussing car accident-related claims and cases. However, there isn’t just one type of damage that can be pertinent to you if you’ve been in a car crash. Typically, three types of damage could apply economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

It’s important to understand the makeup of each of these damage types. Knowledge will help you work more effectively with your lawyer. Plus, you’ll be able to understand how to assist, such as by producing documents and evidence that might be pertinent to your case.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are the easiest to understand because they’re simple to quantify. Essentially, anything that can be objectively billed for — or has a monetary worth — is economic damage.

For example, let’s say you were diagnosed with a serious car wreck injury of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is highly common among drivers and passengers who have been in accidents. Any bills related to your recovery from your TBI, including lost wages from work days you had to take off, would fall into the “economic damages” category. If you can put any dollar amount into something, it will probably be economic damage. 

After experiencing any uncommon or common injuries after car accident events, you’ll want to recover as close to your total economic damages as possible. This is why having a car accident lawyer can be essential. Lawyers have one goal: Making sure you’re fairly compensated. They know how to list and support all your economic damages in a way that makes it harder for an insurance adjuster to deny your request.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

As you can see, economic damages are fairly easy to catalog. Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify and justify. Nevertheless, you may have non-economic damages, especially after getting involved in some of the more common types of car accidents that tend to have catastrophic consequences.

Take drinking and driving accidents, for instance. These kinds of crashes are avoidable. Unfortunately, they happen far too regularly, including among the teen-driving population. Often, driving and driving crashes lead to tragic outcomes, including extensive personal injuries and fatalities. In these situations, accident victims and their surviving loved ones may see non-economic damages or those related to “pain and suffering.”

Non-economic damages cover emotional, social, and other losses that are challenging to pinpoint. How much is the loss of a loved one worth in dollars? How about losing a limb and a person’s ability to enjoy life fully? Knowledgeable lawyers know what is the most common injury in a car accident and understand how to evaluate and translate that injury in non-economic terms. Most lawyers use a calculation that may be partly based on historic settlements and multiples of economic damages. In some states, non-economic damage amounts have a ceiling cap prohibiting injured individuals or loved ones from seeking damages beyond a certain figure.

What Are Punitive Damages?

As someone who has experienced a severe car wreck injury, you want to compel the courts to punish the at-fault driver and any negligent third parties by asking for economic and non-economic damages. What if the other driver acted so carelessly and recklessly as to seem deliberately malicious? In that circumstance, a court might add punitive damages to your compensation.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the perpetrator and deter others from committing the same actions. It’s not unusual for punitive damages to total several times the economic and non-economic damages. Again, though, not all accidents involve punitive damages. However, they’re available in rarer crashes where one party has egregiously defied the law.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling a little confused about how these three types of damages may affect your car accident claim. Many people who have been hurt in crashes and set up initial consultations with our attorneys in Virginia at Huffman & Huffman aren’t sure what to do next. By partnering with a knowledgeable lawyer, you can ensure that you seek appropriate damages in a way that gives you the best chance of recovering fair compensation for your experience.


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