Understanding Damages – Overview

Understanding Damages in North Carolina

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you will likely discover that the road to recovery is often both difficult and confusing. Therefore it is important for car accident victims to begin, as early as possible, the process of understanding what damages or injuries related to a car accident are in fact compensable in North Carolina.

Under North Carolina law, there are several types of damages for which you may seek compensation as a result of your car accident. Possibly the most common claim for relief after a motor vehicle accident is compensation for accident-related medical expenses. It is important to note that there are several other accident-related claims that should be examined, including lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and diminished earning capacity.

When preparing a demand package for compensation for the insurance company, it is important to consider any damages you have incurred as the result of the accident. The following information should provide you with a starting place of issues to consider when you are thinking about how exactly the accident has affected you and your family. For more information on calculating lost wages, view our comprehensive demand process section.

Medical Expenses

One of the most common types of car accident-related damages are those that arise from seeking medical care and treatment. Expenses arising from seeking medical care and treatment are often referred to as “medical expenses” or “medicals.” Medical expenses, while the most common, are often the most difficult to prove in a motor vehicle accident claim.

If you have been involved in a car accident, your injuries may be as minor as some stiffness in your neck, or as significant as total permanent disability. Regardless of how minor or significant your injuries are, it is essential that you seek appropriate medical care as soon as you are able. Moreover, it is important to remember that the insurance company may challenge the reasonableness and necessity of your medical expenses. As such, you should strive to ensure that your medical treatment is both medically reasonable and necessary.

In the event that you believe that you have injured in a car accident, it is essential to seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries. Medical expenses arising from a car accident may include the following:

  • Emergency Medical Service – Ambulance
  • Emergency Room Care
  • X-rays / CT / MRI
  • Primary Care
  • Physical Therapy / Chiropractic Care
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Neurological Treatment and Care
  • Durable Medical Equipment

It is worth noting that you should be mindful to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your medical care and treatment. Additionally, be sure to communicate with your attorney, if you have elected to hire one, about the existence of any applicable health insurance.

Lost Wages

Lost wages after a car accident can have an additional and significant impact on your ability to return to life as normal. It is common for accident victims to incur lost wages after being placed out of work. Should you decided to make a claim for lost wages as apart of your personal injury claim you may be able to seek compensation for the wages lost due to being written out of work for your injuries, for time you’ve had to spend going to doctor appointments or for the period of time that you were unable to perform your duties.

It is worth noting that lost wage claims can be difficult to calculate and prove if you are (1) self-employed, (2) a contractor, (3) paid commission, or (4) used your vacation time from work. For more information on calculating lost wages, view our comprehensive lost wage section.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Out-of-pocket expenses should be considered a miscellaneous category for all other costs related to your North Carolina car accident. Out-of-pocket expenses may include prescription medical, specialized pillows (ordered by physicians), medical equipment, parking costs and other expenses you would not have purchased but for the accident.

It is important to remember to keep each and every receipt for any purchase made related to your personal injury claim. Moreover, it may be wise to photograph each of the receipts in the event that the receipts fade or are misplaced,


While mileage incurred as a result of seeking medical treatment is technically an out-of-pocket expense, this expense is significant more complicated to document and prove. Moreover, the cost associated with mileage can be incredibly expensive.

If you suffered injuries in an accident that resulted in you attending several doctor appointments, you are spending money on gas that you would not have otherwise had to spend. It is important to appropriately document your travel-related expenses for your medical treatment. For more information on calculating mileage, view our comprehensive mileage reimbursement section.

Future Medical Expenses

Considering what medical expenses you may have to spend in the future, it can be very subjective. Future medical expenses consider the costs associated with ongoing treatment you will receive in the future related to your personal injury claim. Calculating future medical expenses and anticipated care can be confusing for accident victims and difficult for doctors.

If you have sustained significant medical injuries as a result of a car accident, it is important to speak to your doctor about what medical care, treatment and expenses may be involved in your future care. It is worth noting that future medical expenses are typically reserved for the most serious personal injury cases, as it is often difficult to substantiate the necessity of future medical care.

If you have sustained a permanent disability from a car accident, it is essential to treat your future medical care, future medical needs and future well-being as factors in evaluating and presenting your injuries to the insurance company for compensation. While permanent disabilities typically arise in the most significant car accidents, it is important to explore and weigh the mechanisms for presenting your permanent injuries to the insurance company. This will often mean seeking a “permanent partial disability” rating from a qualified and experienced medical professional. A “permanent partial disability” rating from your medical provider, if given, will often provide a numerical percentage indicating how impaired a certain portion of your body is due to an injury.


If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, calculating and identifying your damages is one of the most important parts of your claim, second only to actually getting the treatment you need. For personal injury claims, damages can be hard not only to calculate but also to identify because the term “damages,” encompasses more than just your medical bills. As the victim of a car accident, you’ve probably experienced an array of hardships due to the accident because it caused more than just physical harm, but how do you translate intangible damages into numbers?

The first step in calculating and identifying your damages is to identify what and how you have suffered from the accident. Once you have identified all of the damages that may pertain to your particular car accident claim, the next step is to calculate their value. It is important to remember that your opinion on the value of these damages and your adjuster’s opinion on the value of these damages will often differ greatly, so it is important to calculate your numbers reasonably and adequately so that you can present the best claim possible. For more information on calculating your damages, view our comprehensive accident damages section.

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