Experts tell us to set goals for ourselves if we want to be successful in life, but few offer advice on what to do when you’ve been in an accident, and your new goal is just staying afloat. Figuring out how to pay the bills after an accident can be hard, but it’s nice to know that you can at least expect compensation for your medical expenses.
But what about the other areas of your life, like the loss of wages due to the fact that you can no longer work? How are you supposed to pay your bills in this situation?
Thankfully, there is more to damage claims than just medical bills. There is loss of income, consortium, and even cancellation of future plans. In this article, we’ll discuss the types of possible damages you can claim if you’ve been in an accident.
This is the money you will receive as compensation due to an injury, accident, or damage that is caused by someone else’s negligence. In this instance, it doesn’t matter if the harm was intentional. You would not be in the situation you are in if it weren’t for their actions (or lack there of). There are three things you must prove in order to receive compensatory damages.
- The defendant breached their duty of care toward you
- This breach of duty caused your injury or illness
- As a result, you have economic and non-economic damages
There are two types of compensatory damages, and how much money you could receive depends on the type.
- Economic damages– These are damages that are measurable, and can be given a monetary value. Compensatory damages can include medical care, loss of income, ambulance expenses, and nursing home care. You may also hear economic damages referred to as active damages.
- Non-Economic damages– In this case, the damage done as a result of the accident is not measurable, and doesn’t have a quantifiable money variable. This can include mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and inconvenience. Another legal term for non-economic damages is general damages.
Let’s take a look at some economic damages before we dig into the non-economic.
When filing for economic damages, you will be expected to give a monetary amount for the claims you are filing. This means you’ll need things like check stubs from your work place, tax returns, billing statements from your medical providers, property damage estimates, and any bills that come in from people you hire to take care of you or your household.
After an accident, you’ll most likely require medical care for your injuries. This can include the cost of:
- Hospital stay
- In-home nurse aids
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Special equipment such as wheelchairs, case, bath chairs, etc.
Medical care costs can quickly skyrocket, leaving you trying to figure out how to pay the bills while you’re still in recovery. It’s possible that you could receive compensation to cover part of these costs, if not all of them.
FUTURE MEDICAL BILLS
It’s hard to know what’s going to happen in the future, especially when it comes to your health. While you may feel fine today, there may be upcoming medical procedures that you will need to live a more functional life. This can include:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
An example of this would be someone who was in a wreck, and experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI). In many cases, patients recover from this and go on to live perfectly normal lives. For someone who experiences severe TBI, however, it may result in long-term loss of motor skills or even their speech. In this case, that person would qualify for compensation of future medical costs.
LOSS OF INCOME
You can file for loss of income when your injuries are so severe you can no longer continue to work at your place of employment. This also applies if your ability to work has been impaired or diminished.
For example, if you worked as a carpenter before the accident, and you’re now confined to a wheelchair, you won’t be able to return to carpentry work.
If this is the case, you can receive compensation for loss of income. It will require expert testimony that will consider:
- Your age
- Life expectancy
- Past earning capacity
LOSS OF INCOME FOR YOUR SPOUSE OR FAMILY MEMBER
Some accidents are severe enough that your spouse, child, parent, or other family members are forced to take time off of work to care for you. This could be something that only last for a few days, or it could mean your care taker is unable to return to work for an extended period of time. If this is the case, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your loved one’s loss of income as well as your own.
There can be occasions when you were injured badly enough that you can’t return to your previous employment, but are still able to work in a different field. An example of this would be if you used to work with the local power company, and was responsible for repairing power lines.
If you injured your back, and can no longer work as a power line repairman, there may be other types of work you can do. This will require further training, however. You may be able to receive compensation to cover the cost of your vocational rehabilitation as you train for a new career.
Home repairs don’t stop just because you’ve been in an accident. There are still general maintenance items that will need to be addressed, such as trimming the bushes, cutting the grass, or just washing the clothes.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not be able to do this yourself any longer, and need to hire someone as a result. For example, if your foot was injured in the accident, then you’re no longer able to climb a ladder. This means that you won’t be able to climb up on the roof and repair it, as you were planning to do before the accident took place. This could also apply to cleaning your home if your ability to do so has been impaired.
In the situation that you were already hiring someone else to do it, such as a housekeeper, you will most likely not receive compensation. This is because you were not completing these tasks yourself prior to the accident, and therefore your ability to do so now is not in question.
CANCELED TRIPS AND PLANS
If you were planning to take that long awaited vacation to Buenos Aires when your accident occurred, you may be forced to cancel your trip. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as:
- Loss of ability to drive
- Loss of ability to fly
- You have scheduled doctor appointments related to the accident
While it’s possible that you could get a return on the deposit you made for the trip, that’s not always an option, and you may end up losing the money as well as your ability to travel. If this is the case, it’s possible to receive compensation for the canceled trips and plans you had scheduled.
Damage to your property can become costly in more ways than one. There is the obvious need to either repair or replace your vehicle if it were damaged due to a car accident. This means that it will either need to go to a repair shop or be totaled. In turn, this impairs your ability to travel freely.
There is always the option to simply rent a vehicle until you either get your own out of the shop, or until you have the money to buy another one, of course, but if the accident had never taken place, you wouldn’t need to.
In the case of general damages, assigning a monetary value is not possible. There are ways to calculate the damages, but this will depend on a variety of factors such as the nature of your injuries. In some cases, the judge may leave it to the jury to assign a monetary number. This will change from case to case. What one plaintiff was awarded may be radically different from another.
PAIN AND SUFFERING
Pain may not be measurable, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t impair your quality of life or ability to do the things you love. That’s where the pain and suffering claim comes in. This is designed to compensate you for the physical and mental pain you feel as a result of the accident, as well as the daily disruptions to your life.
For example, if you are unable to go to sleep at night because the back injury you sustained in your fall prevents you from falling asleep, you might be able to file a pain and suffering claim. Your inability to fall asleep and stay asleep is affecting your life in more ways than one, after all.
LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
Consortium is essentially the loss of benefits you receive from a family relationship. This can include affection and sexual relations. For example, if you were in a wreck, and can no longer bear children as a result, this would fall under the loss of consortium. Some of the ramifications of loss of consortium include:
- Marital strains
- Loss of companionship
- Unable to do activities together such as walking, biking, swimming, etc.
- Sexual constraints
- Inability to bear children
- Decreased ability to communicate
- Inability to participate in social activities
- Lack of assistance with household chores and childcare
It’s important to note that the loss of consortium is filed by the legal spouse of the injured party, and it must be filed within four years of the date of the injury. If the injured spouse settled the claim, then the non-injured spouse no longer has a claim for loss of consortium. Other family members such as children, parents, significant others, fiancés/fiancées, or any other party are not eligible to file in the state of Georgia.
Mental anguish is the severe stress or anguish someone feels as the result of an accident. It’s also known as emotional stress. This could be caused by watching a loved one become injured or killed as a result of an accident.
In many states, you can file for mental anguish damages even if there was no physical injury to you, but that’s not always the case in Georgia. The impact rule states that you can’t file a claim for mental anguish if you have not also suffered a physical injury.
An example of when you have a claim for mental anguish is when you and your spouse was driving down the road, when another vehicle rams into you. If your spouse was either greatly injured or killed, and you saw the event, you might have a claim for mental anguish.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
For simple accidents such as a minor fall, most likely not. It’s possible to work with the insurance company without involving an attorney. If the injuries are more severe, you can always seek counsel from an attorney. They can thoroughly investigate the case to see if you can file a claim, or advise you on how to proceed if you don’t.
It’s important to note that an attorney is prohibited from giving you an estimate of how much you could be awarded up front. They might be able to provide estimates from similar cases, but this is not a guarantee that you’ll receive that amount of money.
LET THE GUARDIAN LAW GROUP HELP
Once you decide you want to pursue a case for damages, it’s important to seek out an attorney to help. While there are plenty of lawyers out there, choosing a personal injury attorney who has experience with these types of cases can determine whether you win or lose the case.
Here at the Guardian Law Group, our personal injury attorneys are experienced in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, work place accidents, and slip and falls. We’ll work hard to get you the money you need to get back to living your life on your terms, just as you did before the accident.
Contact us for a free case evaluation. We don’t charge a penny until we win the case.