Being involved in a car accident is both terrifying and frustrating. Even a seemingly minor accident can mean you’re left with a damaged vehicle and forced to take time off work to seek medical treatment. Understandably, if someone else caused your injuries, you want to know, What can I be reimbursed for after a car accident? Read on to learn more about how to prove damages after a car accident, the types of recoverable damages, and filing a claim for your injuries.
Types of Damages in an Auto Accident Claim
There are two main categories of recoverable damages in an auto accident claim: economic and noneconomic damages. In rare cases, you might also qualify for punitive damages.
Economic damages are losses that carry a monetary value. Some of the most common economic damages in an auto accident claim include the following:
- Medical expenses. Damages can include expenses for doctor visits, hospital stays, medication, rehabilitation, and any other costs related to your injuries from the car accident.
- Lost wages. Your lost wages are the income you have lost due to your inability to work after the accident or the time you had to miss because of doctor appointments, physical therapy, and other treatments.
- Property damage. Property damage claims include the actual damage to your vehicle or the total loss settlement, rental car reimbursement, and repair or replacement costs for personal property damaged in the accident.
Recoverable damages will vary case by case because no two car accidents are identical. For minor injury claims, calculating economic damages is relatively easy. However, serious injury collisions are more complicated because you might have future expected costs. For example, someone with a devastating permanent injury may require lifetime care. A lawyer can help you calculate all your damages, including future costs.
Noneconomic damages compensate you for losses that don’t have a specific monetary value. Some examples include the following:
- Pain and suffering. These damages compensate you for the physical and emotional pain you endured because of the accident.
- Emotional distress. Common types of emotional distress caused by car accidents include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
- Loss of consortium. If your injury has caused you to lose out on companionship and affection from your spouse or partner, you might be eligible to seek compensation for that loss.
Noneconomic damages are more challenging to calculate because they are subjective and because there is no associated financial loss to refer to. It’s almost certain that the other driver’s insurance company and your attorney will reach very different values for your noneconomic damages. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can fight for your best interests.
Punitive damages are not available in every case. They are reserved for cases in which the defendant’s actions were outrageous or especially egregious. For example, someone driving under the influence of alcohol could face punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish the at-fault party and discourage them from engaging in similar conduct again.
Types of Evidence in Car Accident Claims
To maximize your potential compensation in a car accident claim, you need strong evidence that proves the other party was at fault. The following are types of evidence that may be helpful:
- Police report—this will provide an official record of the accident, including the date, time, and location of the accident, the names and contact information of the drivers involved, and a description of the accident;
- Witness statements—statements from witnesses who saw the accident occur can provide valuable information about how the accident happened and who was at fault;
- Medical records—these can show the extent of your injuries, the treatment you received, and the cost of your medical care;
- Photographs—pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and the damage to your vehicle can provide visual evidence to support your claim; and
- Video footage of the accident—footage from a dashboard or surveillance camera can provide valuable evidence about how the accident occurred.
Depending on the severity and circumstances of your accident, your lawyer might recommend hiring one or more industry experts. For example, an accident reconstructionist can provide valuable insight into how your accident occurred. This information is crucial when an at-fault driver disputes their liability. A medical expert can testify about your medical condition and the reasonable and necessary course of treatment. Your lawyer might recommend hiring a medical expert when damages are in dispute or if you suffered a severe injury that will require future treatment.
How to File a Claim After a Car Accident in New Jersey
Filing a claim for compensation after a car accident can be a complex and overwhelming process. But there are steps you can take to protect your rights.
Start by notifying your insurance company as soon as possible. You should initiate a claim with your insurance right away. In fact, your insurance policy terms might dictate that you only have a certain amount of time to report an accident to your insurance company. Be sure to provide as much information as possible. Your insurance company may start an investigation, especially if the other driver presents an injury claim alleging you’re at fault.
You’ll also file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company if they are at fault for the accident. If you hire an auto accident attorney, your attorney can handle all communication with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Your attorney can also negotiate a potential settlement on your behalf.
You can choose to proceed with litigation if a fair settlement can’t be reached. Sometimes, the other driver’s insurance company refuses to concede liability, or the adjuster believes your damages are unfounded. Either way, the only way to continue seeking compensation in those situations is to file a lawsuit. However, you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. In most cases, you only have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. An experienced legal advocate can help you meet important filing deadlines so that your right to seek compensation is protected.
Contact Our Experienced Lawyers Today
If you were in a car accident, you are probably wondering, What can I be reimbursed for after a car accident? The skilled legal team at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC can evaluate your case and explain the types of damages you can seek. We have the knowledge and skills necessary to help you maximize your potential settlement after a car accident injury. Please schedule an initial consultation with our office so we can evaluate your case and explain what damages you might be eligible to recover.