What Can I Be Compensated for After an Accident?
The first thing to understand about these incidents is that most car crashes are not “accidents.” Once this point becomes clear, it is easier to understand the compensation available.
Typically, an “accident” is something that is inevitable and unavoidable. The word didn’t appear in a legal context until the early twentieth century. Back then, factory owners used the term “industrial accident” to describe workplace injuries. The phrase shifted blame from their dangerous factories to the victims. Most car crashes are not “accidental” either. Human, preventable error causes over 90 percent of these incidents.
Car accidents are more like unintentional mistakes. We all make mistakes, and we must all face the consequences of our mistakes. In this context, that means paying the resulting damages. This money is not like a fine that punishes people. This money helps car crash victims get back to the place they were before the wreck.
Compensation Available in Car Crashes
No one can turn back the clock, so money is the only way to restore a person to a prior position. So the damages available in most car crash cases includes compensation for:
- Economic Damages: A serious car crash usually means thousands of dollars in medical bills. Moreover, most people cannot work while they recover, so unpaid bills pile up. Economic damages are therefore essential.
- Noneconomic Damages: Moreover, victims must endure long-term pain and suffering. Money alone cannot compensate for these losses, but the judge lacks the power to award anything else.
A few states are no-fault insurance jurisdictions. In these states, victims must prove that they suffered serious injuries, as that state’s law defines this term, before they receive compensation for their noneconomic damages.
Obtaining Compensation in Car Crash Cases
In almost all car crash cases, victims must introduce evidence that establishes the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver) liability. In civil court, plaintiffs must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Such evidence includes traditional items, like witness statements, and technology-based evidence.
For example, most passenger cars have an Event Data Recorder. The EDR measures and records vehicle speed, steering angle, brake application, and other key car crash metrics. Electronic evidence is very useful in car crash cases.
A car accident lawyer must be proactive in obtaining this evidence. Many insurance companies destroy wrecked vehicle within a few days. An attorney uses a spoliation letter to preserve this and other important evidence.