What kind of damages can you get for a car accident victim?
“Damages” is a term used to describe the economic recovery an injury victim would receive from the other responsible party to make the injury victim “whole” again. Usually when someone is seriously injured in an accident, it is impossible to be made fully “whole” again, but the idea of damages is to put a monetary value on what you have lost, physically, emotionally and economically.
In Illinois, they are divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. With economic damages, we’re looking at injury victim’s actual monetary losses – medical bills that they have incurred as a result of the accident and lost wages for when the injured person isn’t able to work. This would cover both past and future medical expenses and lost wages.
Non-economic damages relate to pain and suffering, lost physical mobility and function, emotional distress and anguish that they’ve incurred as a result of this accident. And then finally, the type of disability or loss of a normal life they have incurred as a result of the accident.
Q: How do you establish disability and loss of a normal life?
We would look at the types of activities, like hobbies and sports, that the injured person engaged in prior to the accident. How active they were and what they typically did in their free time? And then we would look at how the accident changed them and whether they can no longer do those hobbies or sports. Have they lost interest in them because it’s no longer exciting or fun for them? Is it too painful or have they been sufficiently disabled that the activity is simply physically impossible?
We would also look at activities of daily living. Do they need help getting dressed every day? Do they need help being bathed or going to the bathroom? All of those simple tasks that we take for granted are now compromised because of the accident to where their life is forever changed.
Q: What about the emotional distress of loved ones?
In a wrongful death action, loss of society and loss of companionship lost as a result of the death of a loved one can be an additional type of non-economic damages.
Q: If I can’t do my job but can do similar jobs, would that factor into lost wages?
We would look at it from an economic standpoint and how it has affected you. If you were making $1,500 a week and now can only make $500 a week, that’s $1,000 per week you’ve lost. What we would say is that for the remainder of your work life that there would be a significant wage loss.
When necessary, we will hire an economist or vocational rehabilitation expert to try to capture what that wage loss is and figure what that amount would be in present dollars.