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Available Compensation for Car Accident Injuries

Car accidents can cause serious physical injuries, emotional distress and financial hardship. As a car accident victim in Texas, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to recover the financial compensation you need. A successful car accident claim with help from an experienced car accident attorney in Austin could lead to the compensation you deserve for multiple types of losses.

Categories of Car Accident Compensation

Car accident compensation in Texas is classified into three main categories. The first two, economic and noneconomic damages, are referred to collectively as “compensatory damages.” They are intended to compensate a victim for the losses that he or she suffered because of the accident.

Economic damages – also called pecuniary losses – reimburse a victim for the monetary losses associated with a car accident. These losses are often established using documentation such as bills, receipts and vehicle repair estimates.

Noneconomic damages, also known as pain and suffering or non-pecuniary damages, are awarded to make up for the victim’s intangible losses. These losses may be proven using records from a therapist or psychiatrist, an injury journal, or testimony from the victim (or family members).

The third category, punitive damages, are reserved for cases where the at-fault party (known as the defendant) is guilty of gross negligence or reckless behaviors. A good example is a car accident that is caused by a drunk driver.

Medical Bills

A car accident case involving physical injuries will most likely result in compensation for the victim’s medical bills. This includes all past, present and future estimated expenses necessary to treat the victim’s injuries.

Common examples are:

  • Ambulance fees
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgeries
  • Visits with specialists
  • Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Prescription medications
  • Medical devices
  • Live-in or around-the-clock care

Many motor vehicle accidents result in long-term or permanent injuries and disabilities. In these cases, the victim may qualify for disability costs, such as ongoing medical treatments, physical therapy and mobility-assistive devices.

Lost Wages

If a car accident results in missed work while the victim heals or receives medical care, lost wage reimbursement may be available. This can cover lost hourly wages, tips, commissions, bonuses and earning opportunities.

If the crash causes long-term injuries that make the victim unable to return to work at full capacity, he or she may receive compensation for lost capacity to earn. This can cover the gap between how much the victim used to make and what he or she makes now or replace the victim’s full earnings (with total disability).

Property Damage

Car accident victims in Texas can receive insurance benefits to pay for the price of property repairs and/or replacement. If the vehicle can be repaired to its previous state, a car accident settlement could cover full repair costs, up to the limits on the policy.

If a vehicle is deemed a “total loss” by an insurance company, meaning the cost of repairing it exceeds the overall value of the car, the owner could receive payment for the full pre-crash value of the vehicle.

Pain and Suffering

The above-listed types of compensation all fall under the umbrella of economic damages. Pain and suffering, however, are noneconomic damages. This makes them more difficult to calculate since they are not quantified using hard numbers or monetary values.

Pain and suffering can encompass a range of intangible losses caused by a car accident or related injuries, such as:

  • Physical pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychological trauma
  • Fear, anxiety or depression
  • Physical impairment
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Grief over the loss of a loved one

Noneconomic damages are often based on the severity of the victim’s injuries and how much they impact the victim’s life. In many cases, pain and suffering awards are calculated by multiplying the total amount of economic damages by a factor between 1.5 and 5, which is based on the gravity of the injury.

Wrongful Death Damages

In the tragic case of someone losing his or her life in a fatal car accident in Texas, surviving family members or beneficiaries may be able to recover different types of compensation with a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death claim could result in a monetary recovery for the deceased victim’s losses as well as harm suffered by the family. Examples are funeral and burial costs, loss of the deceased victim’s earnings or inheritance, and loss of the decedent’s advice and support.

Punitive Damages

In Texas, punitive or “exemplary” damages may be awarded in a car accident case. These are not meant to compensate a victim, but to penalize or punish the defendant. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 41.003, exemplary damages can be recovered if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the damages result from:

  • Fraud,
  • Malice, or
  • Gross negligence.

Fraud refers to crimes that rely on deception to achieve personal gain. Malice means specific intent by the defendant to cause substantial injury or harm to the victim. Gross negligence is an act or omission that involves an extreme degree of risk considering the potential harm to other people. A jury must be unanimous in the decision to award exemplary damages.

Who Pays for Car Accident Injuries in Texas?

The two main types of car accident laws are “at-fault” and “no-fault.” The majority of states, including Texas, use an at-fault law. Under this insurance law, the person or party at fault for causing a car accident is held responsible for paying for victims’ injuries and crash-related losses.

In a no-fault state, on the other hand, a car accident victim seeks financial benefits from his or her own car insurance company, regardless of fault. Texas law requires a victim to prove that someone else is at fault to recover compensation from that person’s insurance company.

The most common source of car accident compensation is a negligent driver. A driver who violates a traffic law, drives while distracted or drunk, or otherwise causes a preventable car accident can be held liable for a victim’s losses.

However, some car accident cases involve third parties. These are people not directly involved in the crash who contributed to the accident, such as the manufacturer of a defective vehicle part. An attorney can help you determine fault and liability in your car accident case.

For more information about the types of compensation that may be available for your car accident injuries, request a free consultation with an attorney at FVF Law.

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Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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