automobile accident

How Are Damages Calculated in Accident Cases?

In personal injury cases, people who have been injured commonly want to know how much compensation they will receive. The answer to that question depends on several factors, which your personal injury attorney will be happy to explain in further detail.

Who is at Fault?

The issue of fault is handled differently depending on the location of the accident. Virginia takes a strict view on the subject of fault because it employs a doctrine referred to as contributory negligence. This means that if you were found to be even one percent at fault in the accident, you would not be awarded any damages because you contributed. In many cases, the defendant and their representatives will attempt to minimize their damages by alleging that you contributed to your injuries. This is just one of the reasons why it’s vital that you work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can safeguard your interests.

Calculating Damages in a Virginia Accident Case

In Virginia accident cases, damages are generally broken down into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to provable financial losses that are a direct result of the accident or injury. This figure may include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Medical Bills (past and future)
  • Lost or Damaged Property
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost Wages (past and future)
  • Permanent Impairment
  • Other Out of Pocket Expenses

When you suffer a serious injury, there may be many types of economic losses, some that are expected to occur in the future. Your attorney may have expert witnesses involved in your case to help prove these damages. These witnesses may include vocational rehabilitation experts, economists, and medical experts to testify about the severity of your injuries and their likely impact on your future.

How Non-Economic Damages are Calculated

Non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as general damages, are the other half of the equation. These damages are more difficult to pinpoint because they are considered subjective. Often referred to as pain and suffering, these damages are meant to compensate you for the impact that the accident and injury have had on your life. They include payment for:

  • Physical Pain
  • Emotional Turmoil
  • Loss of Enjoyment
  • Disruption of Daily Lifestyle

Because non-economic damages can’t be calculated based on bills for services, the courts and insurance companies use a multiplier as a compensation formula. They will take the total economic damages and multiply those anywhere from 1.5 to 5, depending on the severity of the accident and injuries, to arrive at a final figure for damages. For example, a severe injury with $500,000 in economic damages may use a multiplier of 5, arriving at a figure of $2.5 million for total compensation.

Asking for Punitive Damages in a Virginia Injury Case

There are some accident cases in Virginia that allow a plaintiff to request punitive damages. These are damages that are meant to punish the negligent party as well as set an example for others to discourage similar future behavior. Virginia law allows a plaintiff to request these damages if they can show that the defendant acted with “willful and wanton” or “actual malice” in the accident.

What is Available to Pay Damages?

Even if you arrive at a significant figure for damages in a personal injury case, there may be some limitations if there are no funds available to pay your award. It can be crushing to discover that a negligent driver was uninsured or underinsured when you have mounting losses. You always have the option to file suit against the negligent driver for damages, and there may be other parties at fault in an accident who have deeper pockets. This is something that you and your personal injury attorney can discuss should the situation arise.

How an Attorney Can Help You Receive Maximum Damages

Being involved in any sort of accident can be traumatic and life-changing. Experiencing damages can also be economically and emotionally traumatizing, but that doesn’t mean that another party will open their wallet to compensate you. Proving damages and getting the party responsible for your losses to pay can be a complex matter.

At Olmstead & Olmstead, our experienced and aggressive Virginia personal injury attorneys will investigate your case and protect your rights to recovery. We will also gather the evidence necessary to prove and collect the maximum damages possible for your losses so that you can reclaim your life. You will pay us nothing until we recover the compensation that you are owed for your accident.

Contact our office today at 703-361-1555 or online to schedule a consultation.

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