Types of Monetary Compensation Auto Accident Victims Can Recover
When an individual is injured in an automobile accident that was the fault of another motorist, they could be eligible to receive compensation for the damages they suffered.
These damages are often monetary payments that are recovered for an injury or loss sustained due to someone else’s negligence. To collect damages, injured victims often choose to retain legal representation and file a personal injury claim. There are two basic categories of damages that are awarded in an automobile accident claim: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the injured party. There are many types of compensatory damages, but they are typically broken down into two categories:
- Special damages. These are damages that were actually caused by the accident and can be easily calculated or quantified into dollar amounts. Special damages normally include medical bills (present and future), ambulance charges, emergency care, rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses, prescription costs, loss of earnings (present and future), the loss of future earning capacity, property damage, and replacement costs. Special damages are considered compensatory, meaning that they are intended to make the injured person “whole” again, placing them in the position they would have been in had the accident not taken place.
- General Damages. General damages are designed to compensate an injured person for the non-monetary harm that was sustained in an injury, but cannot be calculated with mathematical certainty. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, a potentially shortened life span, mental anguish, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, as well as impairment, scarring, and disfigurement are common general damages. Because general damages are subjective in nature, it is much harder to put a value on them, but they are still considered to be compensatory in nature. An award for general damages is often calculated based upon the circumstances surrounding the accident and the severity of the injury.
In order to recover monetarily in your personal injury case, your claims for special and general damages will need to be supported with copies of your medical bills, documentation of property damage, employment records illustrating the time missed from work and the resulting wage loss, along with testimony from witnesses (such as your treating physicians and other health professionals) who can attest to the injuries, pain, suffering, and emotional trauma you suffered as a result of the accident.
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter them and others from engaging in the same reckless conduct in the future. Before punitive damages can be considered and claimed in Colorado, trial courts are required to conduct a thorough analysis of the evidence. Before winning a punitive damage award, the injured party must prove that that the at-fault party caused the harm as a direct result of an act of “fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct.” Any exemplary damage award cannot surpass the amount of actual damages that are awarded in the case.
Because personal injury lawsuits can involve complex calculations regarding compensable losses, you might need help from a skilled personal injury attorney. For competent legal advice in your Colorado accident claim, contact Daniel R. Rosen today.