Car accidents present serious challenges when they occur. If you are struggling to pay for your medical treatment while taking time off work, we understand the amount of stress you are going through. When you think about how the accident affected your life, many losses probably come to mind. Working with an automobile injury attorney local to Cody, Wyoming or Cheyenne, Wyoming is the best way to seek compensation for all of your damages.
What Types of Damage Will Be Covered by an Auto Accident Settlement?
After an auto accident, seeking a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company is usually the fairest and most reliable way to avoid paying for the damages out-of-pocket. Every accident is different, but in general, the damages can be grouped into three categories:
- Economic losses
- Noneconomic losses
- Punitive damages
Economic losses and noneconomic losses are both considered compensatory damages. In other words, the settlement money for these types of losses goes towards compensating you for the hardships you endured as a result of the accident. Punitive damages are a little different because they are assigned according to the egregiousness of the liable party’s behavior.
Here is an overview of the kinds of losses an auto accident settlement might include:
Economic losses can be expressed in monetary terms and are generally material in nature. The two kinds of economic losses that generally factor into a car accident settlement are medical expenses and lost wages.
The phrase “car accident” evokes nightmarish scenes and serious injuries for good reason. Car crash victims commonly suffer brain damage, paralysis, broken bones, whiplash, burns, and internal bleeding. Even minor injuries can require special medical attention. When you list your medical expenses on a claim, you can demand a settlement that will cover any of the following costs you incurred:
- Emergency care at the ER
- Transportation to the ER via an ambulance
- Diagnostic measures, including X-rays, blood tests, and ultrasounds
- Follow-up appointments with your PCP
- Meetings with specialists
- Prescription medication
- Medical equipment
Sometimes, the claimant can go into settlement negotiations after their treatment is finished. In that case, listing the exact cost of the care is fairly straightforward. Other times, the claimant will need to estimate future medical expenses based on the likelihood of a lengthy treatment and/or a permanent disability. If you need to fight for future medical expenses, our attorneys will use evidence to make sure the insurance company fully understands the seriousness of your condition.
Paying for your medical expenses can be especially challenging if you are forced to take time away from your job while you recover. Your settlement should include compensation for all of the income you would have earned if the accident hadn’t happened. Your normal “income” could be earned in the form of a salary or an hourly wage. If you are a gig worker or if you own a small business, you can estimate your income using approved accounting methods.
In addition to your base compensation, your lost wages can include tips, bonuses, promotions, and benefits. If applicable, you can claim multiple sources of lost wages by listing several part-time jobs or a combination of part and full-time work. Like medical expenses, lost wages can add up over a lifetime if you suffer a permanent disability. In that case, you may be able to seek compensation for reduced or lost earning capacity.
Noneconomic damages affect the quality of your life in significant ways without incurring direct financial expenses. Pain, suffering, and emotional distress are all considered noneconomic damages. Some specific examples include:
- Scars, burns, and other forms of disfigurement
- Painful surgeries
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Since there is no way for a liable party to give you back the ability to take part in activities you once enjoyed or undo the physical pain your injuries caused, personal injury law allows the court to increase the amount of money you are owed in light of any noneconomic damages. The severity of the pain and trauma is assigned a number between 1 and 5, and that number is multiplied by the value of your economic losses.
Punitive damages are also calculated as a percentage of economic losses. After a car accident, the liable party is only required to pay punitive damages if his or her behavior was particularly reprehensible. Drunk driving, driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, road rage, and driving with the intent to harm another person are all behaviors that could lead a court to impose punitive damages.
If you think you have evidence that the other driver is guilty of gross negligence, you should talk to your lawyer about building a case for punitive damages. Surveillance footage, witness testimonies, and other forms of proof could convince a court that extra compensation is appropriate in your situation.
A Note About Property Damage
All of the losses discussed above pertain to the injuries you sustained in the crash. If your car was damaged and/or you lost valuables as a result of the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your property. It is important to note, however, that property damage is usually covered in a separate settlement and is not listed on a personal injury claim.
How to Make Sure Your Settlement Reflects All Your Damages
A settlement is an agreement that is made outside the courtroom between you and the liable party. After a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance provider often provides the payout. How can you persuade the insurance company to give you all the money you are entitled to receive without taking the matter to trial?
Itemize Your Losses
First, working with a lawyer who is familiar with the kinds of losses you may be able to claim will help ensure that you are aware of the full value of your damages. Your lawyer can then create an informed strategy for dealing with the liable party.
Bring Strong Arguments to the Table
It is important to demonstrate that you are willing to fight for a favorable outcome, and that you have evidence to back your arguments in court if necessary. When faced with an aggressive automobile injury attorney, most insurance companies will settle for a fair amount in order to avoid paying unnecessary legal fees on top of the money they are ordered to give you.
Don’t Rush to Accept the First Settlement Offer You Receive
The insurance company might try to tempt you with a quick settlement. These offers are usually very low, and some are not even sufficient to cover the claimants’ medical expenses. There is no need to accept a settlement offer without taking the time to review it with your lawyer. In many cases, an insurance company’s first offer is not its best.
Speak With an Automobile Injury Attorney in Cody, Wyoming or Cheyenne, Wyoming
We provide the Cody, Wyoming and Cheyenne, Wyoming communities with legal expertise and compassion in personal injury cases. We will fight to help you achieve a settlement that is proportionate to your losses, no matter how costly your accident was. We would like to take some time to discuss your damages in order to understand how to best serve your case. For an initial consultation, reach out to us at Ochs Law Firm.