Experiencing an auto accident is stressful enough, but it comes with many other unpleasant consequences. There are doctor visits, taking time off work, spending hours on the phone with your insurance company, shopping for a new vehicle, etc. You can see why having an experienced Baltimore auto accidents lawyer by your side can be a big help. Just one of the ways a lawyer can help you is by ensuring you receive the compensation you are entitled to, whether it comes from your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance or through a personal injury lawsuit. Here are some of the damages you may expect to recover when you work with a good lawyer.
Economic or Special Damages
These are monetary losses with a more or less precise monetary value. These damages are typically well-documented via receipts, invoices, income statements and other similar documents.
Medical expenses are costs of all types of medical treatment you have received since the accident and that were related to the accident. This may include a ride in an ambulance, x-rays, blood work, MRIs, prescription medications, doctor visits, as well as out-of-pocket expenses.
Even if you feel fine, seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. In some cases, the symptoms may not reveal themselves immediately. Meanwhile, the longer you wait to go to a healthcare facility, the more leeway you are giving to the insurance company to argue that your injury isn’t serious or is fictitious.
The number one personal property item damaged in an auto accident is of course your vehicle. If it’s a fender bender, then the property damage will include the cost of repairs. If it’s a total loss, we are talking about the full market value of your car. In addition to the vehicle itself, personal property may also include its contents. For example, if your laptop got destroyed during a collision or if your diamond earring got lost during the impact, they also count toward property damage.
Loss of Income
When you get into an accident, you would typically suffer some income loss. Whether you miss one day of work, a week or have to leave early every Tuesday for physical therapy, you may be entitled to a compensation of the lost income. This includes both current and future lost income or earning capacity, such as in the case that your injuries prevent you from continuing your job.
General damages is a collective term used to describe damage that is difficult to quantify. For example, how do you put a price tag on anxiety, insomnia or a newly developed fear of driving related to the traumatic experience of an auto accident? General damages typically cover the following types of intangible consequences of an auto accident:
- Pain and suffering – any major discomfort and pain you suffered or continue suffering as a result of the accident.
- Emotional distress – major anxiety, fear or similar emotional consequences of the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment – inability to continue enjoying hobbies or other activities due to an injury or distress.
- Loss of consortium – typically has to do with a sexual disability resulting from the accident.
Punitive damages, although they are awarded to the plaintiff, are actually meant to punish the defendant. However, this type of punishment is rarely used by judges and requires “actual malice” defined as “evil motive, intent to injure, ill will, or fraud.” (Komornik v. Sparks, 629 A.2d 721, 331 Md. 720 (1992)). Neither gross negligence nor recklessness can support a punitive damage award. The dispositive case cited above concerned a man who caused an accident while driving with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .19%. Even at more than twice the legal limit for per se driving under the influence, a punitive award was not allowed.
Calculating the Compensation
The other driver’s insurance company will calculate the special damages and will try to get you to settle for the lowest amount possible. Don’t sign any papers before you speak with your Baltimore auto accidents lawyer! What the insurance adjuster calculated may or may not be adequate. Sometimes, they may completely refuse to pay claiming that the accident was partially your fault. Indeed, in Maryland you are not entitled to any damages if you are even 1% at fault for the accident, so it’s worth it to get proper representation to make sure your side of the story is heard.
Contact DRA e-Law today if you have been injured in an auto accident and would like to evaluate your options for receiving the compensation you deserve.