The costs resulting from a motor vehicle accident can be substantial, especially if you sustained serious injuries. Consequently, if you choose to sue the negligent driver responsible for your accident, you seek to recover these costs.
FindLaw explains that, for purposes of your lawsuit, these costs are called damages. They come in three types: economic, non-economic and punitive.
Economic damages consist of your actual costs, including medical costs for things such as the following:
- Transport to the hospital
- Diagnostic tests
- Hospital treatments
- Prescription medications
- Rehabilitation services
- Physical therapy
- Medical equipment, i.e., wheelchair, crutches, walker, etc.
Your economic damages also include the amount of salary or wages you lose while off work because of your injuries.
Not only do your economic damages compensate you for your costs to date, but also for a reasonable estimate of the medical costs and income losses you will encounter in the future.
Your non-economic damages compensate you for your more subjective losses, such as the following:
- Physical suffering and pain
- Mental suffering, i.e., anguish, distress, misery, etc.
- Emotional distress symptoms, i.e., anxiety, depression, flashbacks, sleep disturbances, etc.
- Embarrassment caused by disfiguring scars
- Adjustment to a radically different new life, i.e., having to use a wheelchair or having to wear a prosthesis
- Decrease in your enjoyment of life
In rare situations, you may be able to recover punitive damages on top of your economic and non-economic damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to financially punish the defendant for particularly egregious actions or lack of action. For instance, if the driver who caused your accident was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and excessively speeding at the time he or she hit you, the jury may well consider this a situation that warrants the award of punitive damages.