When you get injured in a car accident, you may think of two types of recoverable damages: money to repair your vehicle and money for your financial recovery. Actually, there are several types of recoverable damages, including lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and compensation for your pain and suffering. The damages available in your case will depend on the damages you experienced and their costs.

While you may be entitled to substantial compensation, you should know that insurers can be difficult in settlement negotiations. They tend to offer lowball settlement offers in the hopes that you will accept them. Luckily, a diligent attorney could help you obtain all the recoverable damages after a Houston car accident.

Compensatory Damages After a Car Wreck

After a Houston auto crash, an injured person may be able to recover compensatory damages. These types of damages compensate the victims for their injuries and are related to the amount of harm a victim experiences. Compensatory damages include two subcategories: economic and non-economic.

Economic Damages

Economic damages relate to direct, provable economic losses. These damages will be financial, and the victim will be able to present some evidence about the value of the losses. The losses can include costs of medical care, the dollar value of lost wages, and the replacement value of a vehicle. They can also be speculative, like a loss in earning capacity and future medical bills.

For many minor accidents, economic damages are the majority of damages. While a person may need medical care, they will make a full recovery, and the accident will not impact their future. A settlement that covers medical bills, lost wages, and the value of the damaged vehicle may be sufficient for those victims. However, sometimes, economic damages go beyond direct costs. For example, if the injured person is unable to clean their house, mow their yard, or engage in any of their routine daily tasks, a settlement should include the cost of paying for replacement services.

Non-Economic Damages

In some circumstances, a person may be entitled to non-economic damages. Those damages are a way for the justice system to try to compensate people for damages that are outside of the financial realm. Some non-economic damages include:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of companionship

When people experience severe, life-altering injuries in a car accident, the non-economic damages may be the more significant part of their compensatory damage award.

Punitive Damages After Car Wrecks

Punitive damages depend on how egregious the wrongdoer’s behavior was. Typical driving errors, which may be negligent, will not be enough to support a claim for punitive damages. People make mistakes, and while the victim should not be financially responsible for those mistakes, they should not lead to punishment.

In contrast, behavior that is intentionally or knowingly dangerous does support a claim for punitive damages. A driver who chooses to drive with a suspended license, driving while intoxicated, or engage in other reckless behavior may be responsible for punitive damages.

If so, state law limits the value of a damage award. It can not be larger than two times the amount of economic damages plus the amount of non-economic damages, with an absolute cap of $750,000. However, insurance may not always cover punitive damages. Even if the wrongdoer’s insurance contract provides for punitive damage coverage, a court could order the wrongdoer to pay those damages out of their own resources. From a punitive standpoint, that approach is excellent—however, it can interfere with people ever receiving their total damage award.

Discuss Recovering Damages After a Car Accident With a Houston Attorney

If you have been in a car accident, you may wonder about available damages. To get a more accurate range, it is vital to understand the circumstances of the wreck and the resulting injuries.

We could discuss your injuries with you and explore the lifelong costs and damages associated with those injuries. One of our attorneys could look at the driver’s behavior and determine whether it merits a punitive damage award. With that information, we could estimate the value of recoverable damages after a Houston car accident. Schedule a consultation to learn more.