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What are 'damages' in a car accident claim?

The word "damages" has a particular meaning in the legal world, distinct from its meaning in ordinary English, that's important to understand once you've been injured in a car accident.

In a car accident claim, your damages represent a dollar amount equal to the losses you have suffered as a result of the accident. Some of the damages you suffer may be easy to quantify, while others may be significantly harder to value because of their intangible nature.

Depending on the severity of the crash, here are some of the different things that may go into the tally:

  • Ambulance fees and hospital bills
  • Physical and cognitive therapy bills
  • The cost of any in-home care that you may need
  • Lost wages, if you weren't able to work for a while after the wreck
  • Lost economic opportunities, if the wreck disrupted your career, cost you a promotion or otherwise affected your future
  • Future medical care that you will likely need
  • The physical or mental scars that you may have from the wreck
  • The pain and suffering that you have endured

In extremely rare cases, the person responsible for the accident may also be ordered to pay punitive damages. Unlike other kinds of damages, which are designed to make the victim of an injury "whole" (or as whole as possible), punitive damages are simply designed to punish the bad behavior of the defendant.

The complex nature of damages and their calculations often leads to disputes between victims and insurance companies. The insurance companies naturally hope to lower their costs by denying certain damages or seeking to lower them. One of the biggest reasons that people seek help with a car accident claim is that it can be difficult to determine damages in a case without significant experience.

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DelVecchio & Miller, LLC

DelVecchio & Miller, LLC
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