4 Types of Car Accident Damages (and What they Mean)


If you’ve been in a car accident, you may be eligible to claim damages. While claims for medical expenses are the best-known form of car accident damages, you can also claim lost wages, decreased employment opportunities, pain and suffering, and more. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common types of car accident damages you can claim, and how to go about it.

Let’s dive in.

First Things First – Know Your Entitlements

Before you set out to claim damages, it’s essential to understand the different types of car accident damages. As a general rule, the compensatory damages that arise during car accident claims fall into two categories. These categories are as follows:

  • General Damages. General damages are the abstract damages that affect people after a car accident. They may include mental or emotional pain and suffering and loss of consortium, to name a few.
  • Special Damages. Special damages are actual damages. They encompass things like vehicle damage and repair expenses, medical bills, and loss of income.

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 is beyond repair, the damages are the fair market value of the car. Determining fair market value is not always easy, and may require the assistance of a personal injury attorney and an automotive professional.

4 Types of Car Accident Damages you can Claim

If you’ve been in a car accident, you may be entitled to collect the following damages:

1. Medical Bills

The first big area of personal injury damages is medical bills. As the bills start to roll in, you can request an itemized receipt from each hospital, treating physician, and healthcare provider that has rendered services due to injuries sustained after the accident.

At that point, you’re eligible to request compensation for the total of your medical bills. The medical expense claim should be based on the actual charges for the services rendered, not the amount paid by the health insurance carrier. The latter is typically a significantly discounted rate.

You can also claim future medical bills. If you’re interested in taking this approach, you’ll need the testimony of a treating physician. The treating physician’s statement should establish why you require continued treatment in the future and what type of treatment will be needed. This information is critical for outlining the cost of future medical bills.

2. Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is a significant component of car accident damages. Defined as mental or physical distress that arises as a result of the accident, pain and suffering is a common “damage” that people seek compensation for. The amount of compensation granted is based on the kind of injury, the seriousness of the condition, and the prognosis for future pain and suffering.

This claim may also consider future mental and emotional damage that comes from the incident. This includes trauma, stress, or anxiety. In some states, plaintiffs can even seek damages for “general loss of enjoyment in life.” Not all states consider pain and suffering in the same way. While some allow the assumption of pain and suffering, others require the person to make a case to prove their pain and suffering.

3. Loss of Affection or Companionship

One of the lesser-known car accident damages is “loss of affection or companionship.” If you are married or in a domestic partnership, and your accident makes it difficult for your spouse to show you affection, or to maintain a sexual relationship with you, you may be experiencing a “loss of consortium.”

While the injured spouse claims other types of damages, the healthy spouse claims loss of affection or consortium. If the accident involves a fatality, the surviving family members can claim loss of companionship damages. In these cases, the jury will consider the nature of the plaintiffs’ relationship with the deceased driver. They’ll also consider the living arrangements of the group and the emotional and mental impact on survivors.

4. Lost Earnings

It’s common for car accident injuries to impede an individual’s ability to work. If you have missed work due to rehabilitation sessions, hospital stays, mobility problems, or other factors, you may be eligible for a lost earnings claim.

In this case, you must be able to prove that your injuries have interrupted or decreased your earning potential. You must also prove that they will continue to do so in the future. A jury that considers this case will look at factors like your age, occupation, skill, and life expectancy.

Packed within the lost earnings category are variations. These include past lost income, future lost income, and loss of earning potential. Establishing these damages requires tax returns, 1099s, testimony from employers, and expert input.

Contact McGrady Law – a Skilled MT Auto Accident Attorney – Today

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be devastating, but you don’t need to do it alone. Here at McGrady Law, we specialize in helping Montana residents and tourists alike figure out what to do after an MT car accident. If you’ve been injured and are seeking representation, contact our offices today.