What types of damages can I claim after a car accident?

A car accident can leave you battered and bruised for a considerable amount of time -- or living with long-term injuries. When that happens, it's only natural to want to know more about the types of damages you can request.

Here's how it generally works when you file a claim for damages with an insurance company or move to a lawsuit:

Your medical bills

Your medical bills are a big priority in any car accident claim, which is why it's important that every bill gets counted. This includes everything from the ambulance ride you took from the scene of the accident and the emergency room visit to follow-up visits with your doctor, prescription costs, x-rays, other lab tests and physical therapy. Depending on your injuries, you may even have expenses like a home health aide, durable medical equipment like a walker or wheelchair and more.

If you've been left with permanent injuries, you can ask for compensation for your expected future medical expenses related to the accident, as well.

Your lost income

This is usually another big part of any car accident claim. Even a minor car accident can cause you to miss work, and you're entitled to compensation for those lost wages -- even if you used sick leave or vacation time to cover your absence.

If you're permanently disabled or unable to return to your previous profession due to your injuries, your lost wages include whatever income you could have been expected to earn during your lifetime.

Your pain and suffering

All the pain and suffering you went through after your accident deserves compensation as well. There's nothing easy about being laid up, being unable to sleep due to pain, struggling through physical therapy and the like. Commonly, your pain and suffering will be calculated off of your actual losses (which include your medical expenses and lost wages) using a multiplier from 1.5 to 5 (although sometimes it's more).

There are times when other damages, like a claim for a loss of consortium or a request for punitive damages, are appropriate. Your attorney will be able to help you understand more about the process and how to value your claim.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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