Rachel Oliver* – There is one common thing in any civil lawsuit – damages; it can be the financial harm, injury, or damage to property caused by the party-at-fault. The plaintiff, on the other hand, has every right to claim recovery from the other party.
As a victim of an auto accident case you are entitled to receive compensation for damages and injuries, provided you can prove the damage. But in order to prove damages, you need to first understand its definition.
What are Damages?
In legal terms, “damages” refer to the amount of money a plaintiff seeks to compensate the legal wrong committed by the at-fault party. The court orders the other party to pay damages or compensation only if the plaintiff can establish that fact that he/she was harmed due to the accident.
There are several kinds of damages, but a personal injury claim related to car accidents usually involves ‘actual damages’ or ‘compensatory damages’. This represents the amount of money approved by the court for the actual harm caused due to:
- The action by the other party
- Negligence of the other party, where they should have done something to avoid the damage but have failed to do so
This money is given to compensate the plaintiff so that he/she can return to the position before the accident occurred. The compensatory damages usually cover items such as lost wages, cost of repairing/replacing the property or other expenses.
The other types of damages include:
- Punitive damage where the court orders the defendant to pay additional money as a punishment if the damage was deliberately caused and with malice
- Statutory damages are provided to the complainant because the law specifically entails it
- Special damages to cover all related expenses including lost wages
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an auto accident and any of these damages apply to your case, contact a personal injury attorney to represent your case in the court. Your attorney will also help you prove the damages and claim the right compensation.
What Kind of Damages can You Claim for An Auto Accident
In case of an auto accident you can claim compensation for the physical damages caused to your vehicle, lost wages, medical expenses (including future expenses if the injury was severe enough), loss of consortium and other damages.
Once proved that the accident was caused due to the negligent party, you are entitled to claim the following damages and more:
- Property damage including damages caused to the car
- Past and future medical expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Past and future lost wages and benefits
- Permanent disability
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
However, all personal injury claims related to auto accidents are verified in the court of law. The amount recovered also depends on how well you prove your case.
Here are a few things you need to consider in order to prove damages in a car accident case.
- Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
The police report will serve as evidence against the defendant in the court. It includes specific accident-related details along with the name and badge number of the investigating officer, who is likely to give evidence in your favor. Besides, insurance company claims adjusters usually prefer to contact investigating officers in order to confirm the statement you have made on the claim.
- Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Visit the nearest ER or your physician soon after the accident. Some state laws make it mandatory to seek medical attention immediately and failing to do so may create legal issues later on, especially while claiming compensation.
In case of pre-existing health conditions or injuries, make sure you take new ultrasounds or x-rays of those injured areas and compare the scans with pre-accident scans to verify if any additional damage has been caused. You cannot make any claim if the medical condition or injury was pre-existing and has not been aggravated by the accident.
- Never Speak to Anyone in the Accident Scene
Remember that statements you make at the accident scene to fellow passengers or the other drivers can be used against you. While it is okay to be sympathetic towards the other parties if you are that compassionate, never say anything that sounds like the accident was your fault or you are to be blamed too.
But at the same time, do take note of what other drivers are saying. Also note if others on the scene have heard the statement and do provide these notes to your personal injury lawyer. You may feel intense emotions following a car accident; but don’t blame yourself publicly or make any stupid promises.
- Gather Your Evidences
First thing first, take photographs of the accident scene. Remember “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in case of an auto accident lawsuit, it is worth even more. In addition, take note of the witnesses on the accident scene. The passengers and others on the road who saw it happening can turn out to be helpful in proving your case.
In case they are against you, you would like to know more about them and what they have to say in order to counter them.
- Keep Records of Post-Accident Ongoing Damages
When filing a personal injury claim, you cannot claim a random amount for compensation. You should therefore keep records of everything including the medical bills you are paying, visit to psychiatric professionals, the cost of car repairing/replacement, and other expenses that you have to incur due to the accident. Also, make sure you have documents validating the number of days/wages you lost.
If you have been a victim of car accident and filing a legal claim, there are a few things you should do in order to ensure the best possible outcome and providing damages is one of them. It guarantees that you can claim proper compensation to cover all of your losses and also allows you to make future claims arising from the same accident. If you are still not sure about what to do in order to prove damages, remember that your personal injury attorney can always help you in establishing your case.
Author Bio: Rachel Oliver is a thought leader in the field of Law. She is keen on gathering information and sharing her opinion on personal injury law, employment law and likes. Feel free to catch up with her on Google+.
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