The short answer is: It depends. Each motor vehicle accident case is unique and will yield a unique result. Personal injury awards can range from a few hundred dollars to millions. The monetary value of a case depends on many factors, including the severity of the injuries, the drivers’ insurance policies, who was at fault, the evidence available and how each party’s attorney pursues the case.
The best way to find out the potential value of a personal injury case is to discuss it with a knowledgeable attorney. During your initial consultation, which is typically free, your lawyer will ask questions to learn more about the scope of your injuries and give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to proceed with your case.
To understand how survivors of motor vehicle accidents are compensated, it helps to understand the three types of “damages,” or costs that are eligible for compensation through a personal injury claim.
Special damages refer to actual costs that the party has incurred, which makes them fairly straightforward to calculate. Examples of costs that fall into the category of special damages include:
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident
- If the injury is permanent or long-lasting, any ongoing medical expenses that will be needed in the future
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages for any time away from work
- Any loss of future earning capacity caused by the injury
- Property damage to the vehicle involved
- Any other out-of-pocket costs associated with the injury
General damages are not linked to specific costs incurred by the plaintiff (the party bringing the lawsuit), so they are less predictable. General damages are typically left to a jury to decide (or negotiated in a pretrial settlement). These damages may compensate the plaintiff for things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life.
If the responsible party’s willful, wanton or reckless conduct caused the injury, the plaintiff may also be able to recover punitive damages. Rather than compensating the victim for a specific loss, punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party for their unacceptable conduct. In addition to holding the responsible party accountable and further compensating the victim, these damages are intended to discourage negligent conduct in the future.
What If I Was Partially At Fault?
West Virginia uses a “comparative fault” law, which means that any party may be assigned a certain percentage of fault for an accident. That percentage is reflected in your final award. For example, if a court finds you were 10 percent responsible for the accident, you would receive 90 percent of the total damages amount.
Even if you played a part in causing the accident, you may be able to recover some (or all) of your losses. It is essential that you speak with an attorney you trust as soon as possible after an accident to begin building your case and pursuing the compensation you need to make a full recovery.
The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.
Other answers about motor vehicle accidents
After a car wreck, or any other vehicular accident, including trucks or motorcycles, seek medical attention. After seeking medical attention, you …Sponsored answer by Rebecca J. Britton