Philadelphia car accident victims often suffer serious injuries that have a lasting effect on their lives. When motor vehicle accidents cause fatalities, the victims’ families and loved ones suffer. In both cases, victims and/or their families may seek monetary damages to compensate for the physical, emotional, and financial pain inflicted on them by someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions.
The Two General Categories of Damages
There are two broad categories of damages you can recover from those responsible for causing a Philadelphia car accident (subject to the insurance rules we cover below).
The first is called economic or special damages. These damages aim to compensate for all of the costs an accident inflicts on you and your family.
These types of expenses include:
- Past medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Future medical bills
The second category is called non-economic or general damages. These damages compensate you and your family for the harm that is harder to put into numbers. Pain and suffering is the most common type of non-economic damages. It places a dollar value on how much you have suffered as a result of the car accident.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Emotional distress
You may have also heard of a category of damages called punitive damages. These damages punish the person or entity that caused your injuries and help ensure the conduct that led to the accident never happens again.
In Philadelphia and throughout the state, punitive damages are available only when the wrongdoers’ actions were extreme, outrageous, or intentional. It is not enough for the liable party to have been grossly negligent. Punitive damages are reserved only for the worst of the worst behavior under Pennsylvania law.
The Challenges of Proving Damages After a Philadelphia Car Accident
In a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove the existence and amount of damages. That is not always a straightforward task. You need an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer on your side to assemble and present the right evidence. This is the best way to ensure you recover the maximum award.
Proof of Economic/Special Damages
Lawyers often rely on documentation to prove these damages. Examples of documentation include medical bills that show how much money an injury costs or pay stubs from your job to show what you were able to earn before the accident left you with a disability.
An experienced injury lawyer may also consult an expert, such as an accountant or financial planner. These experts can figure out the present value of any costs you might bear in the future, such as wages you can no longer hope to earn or the expense of long-term therapies and treatments. (Present value represents the amount of money you’d need to put into an interest-bearing account today to be sure you’d have enough money, after earning interest, to cover those future expenses and losses when they arise later.)
When it comes to proving medical damages, a doctor, specialist, or another healthcare provider must offer expert medical testimony at deposition or trial to prove the existence and extent of injuries. An expert medical provider may testify about your medical treatment, the permanent nature of the injuries sustained, and objective findings generated from medical observations and permanency evaluations. All of this expert medical testimony can potentially increase the amount of compensation you receive.
As an injured car accident victim, you also have the burden of connecting injuries and damages to the car accident. In other words, you must show that the injuries and damages sustained would not have occurred but for the accident. That generally requires testimony from an expert medical provider, such as a treating doctor or medical specialist.
Proof of Non-Economic/General Damages
Proving general damages can be even more complicated. How do you put a number on pain and suffering or on the difficulty of facing life without the companionship of a beloved family member who died tragically, or on the trauma of losing an arm, or the use of one’s legs? There is no easy answer.
It will depend on factors that might seem cold and uncaring to you, such as your age and activity level, the type of injury, and how difficult life is going to be after the accident. As with economic damages, lawyers may rely on experts to help explain these damages. However, ultimately, general damages often come down to a subjective determination of how bad the accident, injury, or loss was.
What to Expect in a Car Accident Lawsuit
We recognize that litigation can create stress for our clients. That is why we pride ourselves at The Levin Firm on maintaining clear and frequent communication with our clients. We guide our clients through every stage of the process of pursuing a claim in court, including:
- Preparing and filing a complaint that explains how our client was injured and who we believe was responsible
- Pursuing discovery, in which we seek disclosure of information from the other parties and respond to their requests
- Researching and drafting pretrial motions that ask the court to rule on critical issues before trial
- Presenting our client’s case to a jury
Contact Our Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers
At The Levin Firm, we focus on doing our best to meet our clients’ needs for recovering from injuries and loss, and that means going to trial if necessary. Contact our Philadelphia auto accident lawyers who are committed to working aggressively to recover every cent we believe, based on our analysis and experience, that our client deserves.
We have represented enough clients in auto accident cases to make reasonable estimates of general damages. Our car accident attorneys’ extensive knowledge is essential to ensure a client’s claim seeks the right amount of money and to decide whether a settlement offer is fair.
Call us today at (215) 825-5183 or toll-free at (877) 825-8542, or contact or chat with us online, to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team and discuss whether we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.