A car accident can be traumatic and have a ripple effect on every aspect of your life, especially if you have a serious injury. The financial costs of a car accident can be staggering and include mounting medical bills, reduced or lost income, property repair or replacement, and more. The more serious your injuries, the greater the loss and financial strain you will endure.
There are different types of monetary compensation for those losses that you may be entitled to: economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages. It is important to learn about these damages in order to determine if they fit your case. After a car accident, it is critical to consult a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to determine if you are eligible for compensation.
Economic losses are actual monetary losses you have incurred due to the car accident, which include:
- Medical expenses: In car accidents that result in injuries, the medical expenses mount quickly. Medical losses often include ambulance services, emergency room expenses, hospital stays, surgeries and procedures, medications, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages: A car accident can affect your ability to work either temporarily or permanently, resulting in a loss of wages. Lost wages include past and future lost income, loss of retirement benefits, loss of a spouse’s income if they were injured, among other items.
- Property damage: In certain cases, you may be able to file a claim separately for the property lost in the accident in order to replace a vehicle or other damaged or destroyed items.
- Funeral and burial expenses: In accidents that result in fatalities, the deceased’s family may be entitled to wrongful death compensation that includes funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. This is especially true if the deceased was the breadwinner of the family.
In contrast to economic damages, which cover tangible and replacement costs, noneconomic damages cover nonmonetary losses, such as grief or emotional distress. These damages are difficult to determine because they are often subjective. Noneconomic damages vary person to person and are based on the individual’s personal experience and may include:
- Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical pain, mental anguish, emotional trauma, and inconvenience caused by your injuries sustained in the car accident. Compensation for pain and suffering can be substantial based on the diagnosis and nature of your injuries.
- Loss of quality of life: Quality of life refers to an injured person’s overall well-being and ability to enjoy life following the accident. Serious injuries resulting in a permanent disability, such as loss of a limb or head trauma, significantly impact your ability to live and enjoy normal life activities in the manner you did prior to the accident. This compensation may also include reputational damage.
- Disfigurement: You may recover damages if your injuries leave you permanently scarred or disfigured causing psychological and emotional trauma, low self-esteem, inability to maintain social and personal relationships, and prevent enjoyment from performing daily tasks.
- Loss of consortium: This type of loss is typically filed by the spouse of the deceased who was killed in the car accident, resulting in the loss of love, affection, companionship, comfort, society, and sexual relations. Some states also allow loss of consortium compensation for committed partners and filial consortium, which is the loss of parents or children. The latter of which covers only loss of love, care, and companionship. Loss of consortium is sometimes applicable if the injured partner is still living but suffers from a disability that prevents them from having a normal marital relationship as they had before the accident. In these cases, compensation will only be awarded if the injured spouse is awarded damages from their personal injury
Punitive damages are rare in car accident cases but may apply if the courts see fit to impose them. While you will benefit from the compensation, punitive damages are actually meant as a punishment for whoever is responsible for the accident if the judge finds their actions extremely reckless, negligent, or malice toward the plaintiff. Punitive damages are often awarded as a deterrent to others from behaving in the same egregious manner.
Are There Specific Requirements Regarding Accidents in Virginia?
Filing a personal injury claim in Virginia can be complicated for several different reasons, which is why it is important to consult a lawyer after any serious collision. Listed below are some challenges you will encounter when filing a claim.
Virginia is one of the only few states that applies contributory negligence in determining whether a personal injury plaintiff is entitled to compensation. Contributory negligence refers to the injured party’s involvement in the accident. In Virginia, the at-fault driver must be 100 percent responsible for the accident. If the plaintiff is found to have even one percent responsibility, they will not be eligible to recover any compensation.
Contributory negligence can also affect the outcome of an insurance claim. Insurance claim adjusters in Virginia pay particular attention to contributory negligence when reviewing your claim and deciding the insurance payout. If the case goes to court, the adjuster may base their decision on the status or outcome of that case. The claims adjuster will determine the payout based on fault.
Statute of Limitations
Virginia places three statutes of limitation in personal injury cases. Cases cannot be brought after the statute of limitation expires. The statute of limitations you should be aware of for personal injury claims include:
- Car accident injuries: If you have a car accident injury, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit or settle your claim. This may seem like a significant amount of time, but it is important to not put off filing a claim. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you believe you should pursue a lawsuit.
- Property damage: Lawsuits over property damage of the vehicle must be filed within five years of the accident date.
- Wrongful death: In accidents involving a death, the family or legal representative must file the lawsuit within two years of the person’s death, which may be on or after the accident date.
Reporting the Accident
In Virginia, it is important to follow certain steps for reporting a car accident, and not following them can cause your claim to be denied. The accident must be reported to the police by at least one of the drivers if anyone is injured or killed and vehicle or property damage has occurred. Additionally, the driver must provide their name, address, and license and registration information to law enforcement at the scene. Failure to follow these steps can even result in a criminal charge.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You Determine if You Are Eligible for Compensation After a Collision
Filing a lawsuit to recover damages from a car accident can be complex, especially in Virginia where contributory negligence applies. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, our seasoned Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at East Coast Trial Lawyers can help you explore your legal options. Call us today at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.