Basics of Auto Accident Damages

Property Damage versus Personal Injury

First you should distinguish between property damage and physical injury. Establishing property damage in regards to the vehicle is relatively straightforward. If the vehicle can be repaired, the damages are the costs of repair. If the vehicle has been totaled, the damages are fair market value. Determining fair market value is not always straightforward.

Past Medical Bills

The first big area of personal injury damages is the costs of past medical bills. This can be determined by requesting an itemized bill from each hospital, treating physician, and other healthcare provider that has rendered services to the injured person due to injuries sustained as a result of the motor vehicle accident. The past medical expenses should be based on the actual charges for the services rendered, not the amount paid by the health insurance carrier, which is typically a significantly discounted rate.

Future Medical Bills

This element of damages is generally established by the testimony of a treating physician. Basically, the treating physician’s testimony should establish why you will need continued treatment in the future and what type of treatment will be needed.

Lost Earnings

Packed within the lost earnings category are variations such as past lost income, future lost income, and loss of earning capacity. Establishing these types of damages can be done with tax returns, 1099s, testimony from employers, and experts.

General Damages

In tort law, “general damages” means things like emotional distress, and pain and suffering. These damages are more difficult to calculate. Unlike “special damages,” such as medical expenses, there is a corresponding bill. Calculating general damages is fact specific.

If you have been injured in an accident, and would like to talk to a lawyer, contact the McGrady Law Firm.