Those injured in a car accident in Houston are entitled to recover compensation from the at-fault party. There are two types of payment available to pursue: compensatory and punitive.
Damages is a legal term that describes the different types of compensation available to victims in a car accident settlement or court award. Compensatory damages compensate a victim for their current and future losses. Within compensatory damages, there are two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic Damages: Financial losses that require evidence of the actual amount of money you have lost. Some examples include:
- Medical bills: emergency visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, outpatient procedures, prescription medications, etc.
- In-home medical care
- Nursing home or rehabilitation costs
- Medical treatment
- Property repair or replacement
- Lost wages from missed work
- Diminished earning capacity (if you are no longer able to work at the same level as before the accident)
- Non-Economic Damages: These damages do not reflect financial losses but are subjective. This makes them much more challenging to prove. For instance:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunity
- Loss of consortium
- Physical impairment (e.g., disability, loss of a limb)
- Unjust hardship
The second type of compensation available in some car accident claims is punitive damages. They are rarely awarded and reserved for cases involving defendants who acted with malicious intent, oppression, or fraud. Punitive damages are a form of punishment to deter similar harmful acts by others in the future.
How Much Compensation Can I Get After a Car Accident?
The exact amount of compensation you will get after a car accident cannot be predicted, but an attorney can give you an estimate of how much you are entitled to. Here are the guidelines typically used to discern a car accident claim’s value.
Liability and Strength of the Case
Liability is the legal term for fault. If there is strong evidence to support another party’s liability, it can dramatically increase the value of your claim. On the other hand, your compensation can be reduced if there is evidence that you are partially or the majority to blame. Texas courts follow the rule of modified comparative negligence, which means you must be 50% or less responsible for the accident to recover compensation, and your percentage of fault will reduce the amount you recover.
The severity of your injuries and other losses will directly impact your claim’s worth. The following factors are generally considered:
- Did you have pre-existing injuries, and if so, were they made worse?
- Are your injuries permanent?
- Amount, type, and cost of your medical care.
- Amount, type, and cost of future medical care.
- Are there any gaps in medical treatment, and if so, why?
- Amount of lost wages.
- Whether you will be able to return to work.
- Restrictions on daily life activities.
- How your life has been impacted.
- Whether your spouse or children have suffered.
There must be documentation that directly links your injuries to the car accident. If you did not seek medical care immediately following the collision, the insurance company can fight causation and allege that your injury was not caused by the car accident or was a pre-existing condition.