If you're involved in a car accident, there's a good chance you've incurred losses of some kind, financial or otherwise. These losses are known as "damages" in legalese, and they usually fall into one of two main buckets:
Special damages (also known as "economic" damages) are the kinds of direct losses that are usually fairly easy to identify and calculate after a car accident. Examples of special damages in a typical car accident case include:
Most of these losses are usually easily calculated. For example, you'll have a bill from your doctor, the landscaper, or your health insurance company showing how much money you had to pay for services made necessary because of your accident.
But sometimes, special damages can be difficult to calculate. This might happen when trying to determine how much money you would have made in the future if you never got into the accident. For instance, how do you calculate how much less money a construction worker will learn because he lost two fingers in a car accident? Or how can you know what your future medical bills will be when your current doctor can only estimate how much more physical therapy you'll need?
In these situations, a car accident lawyer will hire an economic/financial expert witness who can prepare a report and testify on issues like future earnings.
General damages (often called "non-economic" damages) have a definite connection between your injuries and the at-fault driver's negligence in causing your car accident. But despite their clear connection to the accident, general damages are often hard to calculate.
For instance, if the other driver's fault for the car accident caused you to suffer a broken foot, it's expected that there will be some pain associated with that injury, and with the medical care necessary to treat it. But how much money should you receive for the broken foot, above and beyond the cost of treating it?
There's no easy way to answer this question, as it depends on factors like:
In addition to physical pain and suffering, other types of general damages may include:
As you can imagine, these aren't the easiest damages to prove or calculate. Learn more about how pain and suffering is shown in a car accident case.
An experienced car accident lawyer will know how much your car accident case could be worth, and will put together the best evidence to prove each element of your damages claim, so that you can get the best result.
Whether you need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your general or special damages you're entitled to, or you're trying to get a fair injury settlement out of the other driver's car insurance company, an attorney's legal expertise can make all the difference. Learn more about when you need a lawyer for your car accident case.