Damages are at the core of a car accident lawsuit. Before suing for damages, you and your attorney must sit down and assess their value. Numerous factors may influence what damages you can claim.
When assessing damages, you must determine what category of damages your injuries fall under. Economic damages are tied to actual financial losses, while non-economic damages relate to a plaintiff’s personal experiences. In some cases, punitive damages may be added as an extra punishment for defendants. Extensive physical injuries, costly bills, and thorough documentation may help drive up the value of your damages. A lack of evidence, contributory negligence, and poor record-keeping might have the opposite effect. While it is hard to say how much your car accident is worth, many accident cases settle for thousands of dollars or more.
Car accidents can be extremely dangerous, and injuries are often severe. Damages in car accident cases have been known to be very high, and plaintiffs need compensation to pay for everything. Our New Jersey car accident lawyers can help you calculate your damages. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 to schedule a free case review.
Determining the Value of Damages in a New Jersey Car Accident
Damages tend to fall under one of two broad categories: economic and non-economic damages. A third category, punitive damages, may also come into play but is usually available in more limited circumstances. Our New Jersey personal injury lawyers can review the damages in your case and figure out what you can claim in your lawsuit.
Economic damages are your injuries and losses that came at an actual monetary cost. These damages are somewhat easier to assess because their value is predetermined. The challenge is keeping track of all your economic damages so our New Jersey car accident attorneys can accurately tally them up.
Some common examples of economic damages include medical bills, the value of lost or damaged property, and lost income. Medical debt may be very high in cases where a plaintiff was severely injured. Car accidents tend to involve very serious injuries, so medical damages may play a significant role in your case. You should also add the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after a car accident. If your car was totaled, these damages might also be quite high.
After a car accident, injured victims tend to miss a lot of time from work. You might have to spend days or weeks in the hospital, and when you are finally released, you might not be well enough to return to your job. This leads to a loss of income, which should be assessed and added to your damages. If you do not expect to be able to return to work anytime soon, you can even assess future lost earnings.
Not all damages come with receipts. Your personal and subjective experiences surrounding your car accident should also be considered when assessing damages. Your pain and suffering, both mental and physical, deserve compensation just as much as your economic damages.
Assessing non-economic damages is tricky because these damages are more subjective. We can assess the value of these damages by evaluating how your pain and suffering affect you daily. These damages are likely to be challenged in court by the defendant’s legal team, so it is hard to say how much they are worth until our Newark car accident lawyers have had a chance to argue over them in court.
While pain and suffering are common examples of non-economic damages, there may be others that might apply in your case. For example, humiliation, damage to your reputation, disfigurement, and overall loss of enjoyment of life may also be assessed.
Punitive damages are paid to plaintiffs but are not intended to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries. Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their bad behavior. Punitive damages are not available in every case and tend to be awarded only where the defendant’s behavior was particularly heinous or outrageous.
According to N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.12(a), punitive damages are awarded only if a plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that their injuries were caused by the defendant’s actual malice or their wanton and willful disregard for the safety of others. Essentially, the defendant’s conduct must go above and beyond ordinary negligence and instead arise to the level of gross negligence.
Our Elizabeth car accident attorneys can help you claim punitive damages if the defendant acted with gross negligence. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.14(b), plaintiffs cannot collect punitive damages greater than five times the value of their compensatory damages (i.e., economic and non-economic damages) or $350,000, whichever is more.
Factors That May Increase or Decrease Your Damages in New Jersey Car Accident
Damages are not set in stone. There may be numerous factors in your case that can drive up or down the value of your damages. Assessing damages requires assessing these factors. Our New Jersey personal injury lawyers can help you play up factors that may increase your damages while downplaying those that would decrease your compensation.
The severity of your injuries may increase the overall value of your damages. More serious injuries often require more treatment and medical procedures. Doctor visits, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy can add up to a large sum of money. If your injuries are serious and you are on a long-term treatment plan, your damages may be great.
Good record keeping may also help boost your damages. Part of assessing your damages is adding up all the expenses you have incurred because of the accident. If you lose track of all your expenses, you will likely leave substantial damages out of your calculations. Our Jersey City car accident lawyers can help you comb over your records to assess your damages.
The defendant’s behavior may also increase your damages if their behavior was especially bad. Many defendants do not intend to cause harm. Still, particularly reckless defendants may influence a court to award you more damages to punish their bad behavior.
One of the biggest threats to a plaintiff’s damages calculations is contributory negligence. If a plaintiff did something to make the car accident or their injuries worse, they might be deemed contributorily negligent. While this does not bar you from recovery, it might cause the court to reduce your damages in proportion to your share of the blame.
Even if we have an accurate tally of all your damages, you might lose out on compensation if we cannot provide enough evidence to back up your claims. Evidence is crucial to the success of your case. Without evidence, your damages will quickly fall.
Call Our New Jersey Car Accident Attorneys for Help
After a car accident, you deserve compensation to recover from your injuries in peace. Our Paterson car accident attorneys can help you get the compensation you need to cover your many damages. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 to schedule a free case review with our team.