What Can I Recover After A Car Accident in Virginia?
Typically, you’ll be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages in civil cases. It sounds kind of strange because we’re talking about money as far as the damages go, but the distinction is what occasions those damages. Economic damages would include your medical bills, any lost wages, future medical treatment, and other monetary expenses. Economic damages can also include property damage. Most of the time property damages are resolved prior to when an injury case is resolved, but in some circumstances, for whatever reason, the property damage isn’t settled and in those circumstances it can be included.
Non-economic damages could include the impact the injuries have on your daily life, which may include an inability to cook, clean, shower, and get dressed in the morning. Those things form the basis for what we call harms and losses, or you might have heard the term pain and suffering. In addition to your pain, it’s things that you’re not able to do, maybe you’re not able to work out at the gym and you normally do that, or if you’re not able to enjoy some of the recreational activities you normally enjoy. Those are things that are very real losses, but it’s hard to quantify and there’s not an exact dollar amount that can be easily assigned to it, but you’re entitled to recover damages for all of these things.
The more detail that you include in the information you share with your attorneys, for example if you keep track of how your injuries have been impacting you on a daily basis in what I like to call a pain and suffering journal, it makes it a whole lot easier for an attorney to present a claim for those non-economic damages down the road.
How Is Compensation Determined in Virginia Accident Cases?
The calculation of damages depends on the state and on who the parties are, such as their occupation, their age, work history, and other relevant characteristics. More importantly, you need to have a basis for any damages you claim.
If you are at trial, the jury will award damages based on the evidence that you provide. So medical bills are going to form a large basis of what your economic damages are and if your injuries keep you out of work for a period of time your past earnings can be used to substantiate your claim for loss of income. For those damages, it’s pretty easy because you have bills and pay stubs that show the value of the care that you received and the income that you lost. Your paychecks or pay stubs from your previous weeks before you went off with your injury or your tax returns from prior years can be used to show your income, and then showing if you’re limited in working or completely off of work, it’s pretty easy to add up what those claims would be.
The non-economic side of things is a little more difficult. A lot of the time that’s going to be up to the jury, and they will have less guidance than they would have for economic damages. It’s going to end up being what value the jury places on the impact that the accident and injuries have had on your life. It depends on a whole lot of factors, and a lot of the time, you’re going to need the expert testimony.
For instance, regarding loss of earning capacity, an expert will be able to provide testimony as to what the job market looks like, look at what your earning capacity is over the course of your lifetime, or how your earning capacity has been diminished, and then project the amount of income that was lost as a result of your injuries.
Some cases are more straightforward and don’t require expert testimony for lost wages. It really does depend on a whole host of factors, but typically, for economic damages, you’ve got at least some hard numbers you can use to calculate from a basis there, and for non-economic damages, a jury can weigh the testimony about your pain and the impact the injuries have had on your life and come to a decision as to the value of the non-economic damages.