Seeking Compensation – Overview
Seeking adequate and fair compensation as a result of a car accident can be a difficult process if you, like most people, do not have experience evaluating car accident injuries and claims. The main purpose of calculating and determining the amount of your damages is to attempt to restore you to the same position that you were in before the accident occurred.
Depending on your unique situation, you may be able to seek compensation for a variety of damages, including both special and general damages. Special damages are monetary losses that are directly related to your accident and injuries. These damages can typically be calculated to a specific amount. On the other hand, general damages are difficult to calculate and are often viewed from a subjective standpoint. Additionally, general damages are not guaranteed in every case. This section of the website will provide a general overview of the types of damages that may be available for you during the pursuit of your personal injury claim.
Special damages are calculable and quantifiable damages which you incur as a result of your automobile accident. Special damages are easily documented, proven, and calculated, yet still require detailed documentation to recover. These documented damages must be shown as reasonable and necessary, and must also be related to the bodily injury you sustained in the accident.
Special damages include: medical expenses, loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, and loss of earning capacity. To prove these kinds of damages, it is important that you keep up with all your records and receipts related to the accident.
Medical expenses generally tend to be a significant portion of most personal injury claims for damages. These costs are extremely important because they are viewed as the starting point for your recovery. Medical expenses will consist of all of your medical treatment, beginning immediately after the accident and continuing into the future, if your injury requires. If you will continue to receive medically necessary treatment for your injuries into the future, or if you become partially or permanently disabled as a result of the accident, you likely have a valid argument for higher damages, which often results in a larger recovery amount.
Lost income is another important component of your personal injury claim. These damages include all wages and other earnings lost as a result of your accident. Calculations should begin from the date of your accident and continue until you finally return to work. There are three general types of lost income that you may be able to claim: lost wages, lost earning capacity, and lost opportunity. Lost wages consist of the actual time you missed from work due to the recovery time for your injuries. Lost earning capacity issues may arise if your injuries prevent you from working in the same profession as before the accident. Finally, lost opportunity may be claimed when your injury caused you to miss out on a potential business opportunity. Claims for lost income must be supported by appropriate documentation, including letters from both your employers and doctors stating which days you were out of work and the reason.
Out-of-pocket expenses usually only make up a small portion of your personal injury recovery after a car accident. However, out-of-pocket expenses can be substantial in larger claims, particularly if your recovery takes an extended amount of time. These types of expenses include costs related to your accident that you have had to pay yourself, such as prescriptions, medical aids (crutches, braces, walkers, etc.), travel, and any other costs you would not have incurred but did incur because of your injuries. To ensure you can claim out-of-pocket expenses, your receipts and other document should be maintained or preserved.
Seeking compensation for non-economic damages, or general damages, is a more difficult determination because they are often subjective, and cannot simply be calculated from certain amounts (i.e., medical bills or lost wages). In other words, you cannot simply add up the numbers (as you can with special damages) to get a fixed dollar amount. Determining general damages often involves assigning a dollar amount to a subjective injury, which includes claims for: pain and suffering; emotional distress; and loss of consortium; which are unique to each set of circumstances.
North Carolina law provides for the recovery of past and future pain and suffering after a car accident. This type of compensation includes the pain and discomfort you endure at the time of the accident and any future suffering. These, in essence, are two separate categories: (1) past and present pain and suffering, and (2) future pain and suffering. Past and present pain and suffering is what you endure from the time of the accident until you are able to receive a settlement or an award. Future pain and suffering is any pain you may endure in the future, which continues after your car accident claim is resolved.
You may also be able to seek compensation for emotional distress that was caused by your accident. Emotional distress includes conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In pressing such claims, a psychologist or psychiatrist’s opinion is most often offered in support for claims of emotional distress.
Loss of consortium damages, are the losses sustained by the loss of companionship between spouses as a result of the injury. Typically, these subjective damages include the loss of services from that spouse, such as cooking or cleaning, and also includes companionship losses that arise due to the inability to be intimate because of the injury.
Additionally, even if you are not at fault in an accident, North Carolina law requires that you have a duty to mitigate damages. This duty is an obligation to minimize the effects and losses related to your injuries. This obligation includes seeking other employment, retraining if you are no longer able to work in your current profession, and continuing any doctor recommended treatment or surgery. If you fail to seek treatment for your injuries and attempt to mitigate the damages on your own, you may face an uphill battle when making a claim for damages.
The damages you suffered from your accident can be difficult to understand and calculate. Furthermore, seeking compensation for those damages and negotiating with an at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster can also prove to be a formidable task. This section of the website is designed to help to provide you guidance in determining your amount of damages, so that you may ensure full and just compensation.