What Kind of Compensation Can I Expect After a Distracted Driving Accident?

A driver on a phone call while driving a vehicle on the road.Getting hurt by a distracted driver is not only scary, but it can also be frustrating. Drivers take others’ lives into their own hands every time they get on the road.

Choosing to browse the internet or social media while propelling a two-ton machine at highway speeds is reckless, idiotic, and potentially fatal to those they hit. Making matters worse, injury victims will be left with substantial medical bills and other losses.

They can pursue a settlement to recover these losses from a liability insurance policy, but what types of damages can they claim? And how much can they expect to get?

In truth, there’s no way to predict how much your case could be worth until the settlement check is signed. With that said, there are many different factors that go into the valuation of an injury settlement after a distracted driving crash.

Hiring a Connecticut car accident attorney can help you anticipate these factors, while also gathering evidence and documenting the full extent of damages you have suffered.

Bert McDowell Injury Law is ready to help you seek to recover as much as you can from a distracted driver. If you want to know more about your possible claim, including how much you could potentially receive from an insurance company, then call us today at (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.

What Are Damages? And What Types of Damages Are Issued in a Distracted Driving Car Crash Settlement?

Personal injury cases fall under the legal realm of tort law. A “tort” is any act or omission that leads to an injury.

An “injury” can be an actual medical injury, or it could be a financial injury. What’s key in this realm of civil law is that the tort leads to actual, measurable costs, which are called “damages.”

Damages can also be referred to as losses or accident-related expenses. While damages must be objective — meaning there are laws, statutes, and case rulings to draw from justifying the victim’s recovery of them — they don’t always have to be material.

In other words, the law recognizes that the victim of a tort could endure physical pain and emotional or mental suffering and that they may deserve compensation for these abstract, non-financial concepts.

Put even more simply, damages are the things that are lost when someone acts negligently, recklessly, or with intent to cause harm. Civil laws allow injury victims to recover their damages by seeking compensation from the party responsible for the harm they have suffered.

Common types of damages offered after a motor vehicle accident include:

  • Medical expenses, past and future
  • Lost wages, past and future
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Wrongful death expenses

Typically, these damages are paid for through a claim with a liability policy provided by an insurance company. For distracted driving accidents, a claim for damages will be filed with the driver’s policies for bodily injury liability (BIL) and property damage liability (PDL).

To help understand what goes into each category of damages, we have broken them down each in greater detail below.

Medical Bills

A claim for bodily injury is supposed to pay for the costs of all reasonable and necessary medical treatments stemming from the accident or incident.

For a car accident claim against a distracted driver, typical costs for medical treatments include:

  • Ambulance transport
  • ER fees
  • Diagnostics and specialist examinations
  • Lab tests
  • Imaging
  • Hospitalization
  • Ambulatory services
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Anesthesia
  • Wound care
  • Life-saving care, such as dialysis or breathing machines
  • Contract service provider fees

In addition to paying for the costs of immediate care for the injury, a settlement should include compensation for all future projected costs of care. Commonly, this will include the costs of:

  • Follow-up appointments
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Ongoing care needs
  • Long-term medications
  • Durable medical equipment

Basically, the at-fault distracted driver is expected to foot the entire bill for the costs of injuries that would not have occurred without their careless behavior.

Lost Wages

A claim for lost wages does not just affect people who earn an hourly wage. Instead, it is meant to reimburse the injury victim for the entire difference in income and benefits they’ve earned since the crash, in comparison to their average earnings before the crash.

In addition to income from hourly wages, a lost wages claim can compensate a salaried employee for their use of sick leave, for example, essentially paying them back for the leave they were forced to consume because of their accident. Not only that but lost wages claims are supposed to encompass all earnings the injury victim would have obtained, which can include:

  • Tips
  • Commissions for sales or accounts onboarding
  • Performance-based bonuses
  • Paid time off (PTO) benefits that would have accrued
  • The availability of perks, like an office daycare

Importantly, a lost wages claim accounts for both partial reductions in earnings as well as complete losses of earnings. In other words, regardless of whether or not you can work just a little bit or you are forced to skip work entirely while you heal, you can qualify for a lost wages claim.

That coverage encompasses situations where you must reduce your hours or work different duties that cause you to earn less than you normally would. Your attorney will calculate the value of your lost wages by comparing pay stubs, account statements, and other financial documents from before the wreck to now — requesting any differences as part of the overall settlement.

If you are unable to return to work in your former duties permanently, this category of damages can also pay for long-term replacement of wages as well as any retraining needed to change careers.

Property Damage

A property damage claim reimburses you for the costs of repairing or replacing a vehicle. It will also compensate you for any personal property damaged, destroyed, or lost during the accident.

Commonly, that includes devices, clothing, jewelry, sports equipment, and any other belongings of significant material value.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are typically valued in proportion to the extent of medical harm or property damage suffered by the victim. This category of damages accounts for the physical pain and mental suffering of the victim, especially in regard to their inability to enjoy activities and time spent with loved ones while they are healing, potentially including their ability to enjoy intimate relations with a spouse.

Pain and suffering can also include compensation for surviving family members in the event of a fatal distracted driving crash.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

This category acts as a catch-all for all additional reasonable expenses made necessary because of the accident. Common claim items include the costs of a rental vehicle, the costs of parking at an appointment, and the costs of equipment or home modifications made necessary because of the victim’s medical condition.

If new services are required, such as for cooking and doing laundry, because the injury victim once provided them and is now unable to, then this category of damages may be able to provide for these services on a temporary basis.

Wrongful Death Expenses

In addition to claiming all of the above damages on behalf of the deceased injury victim, a wrongful death claim will compensate surviving family members for the costs of handling the remains and conducting a memorial service, in addition to the intangible costs of their own pain and suffering in their period of mourning and their loss of ability to spend time with their loved one.

How Does Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Help Me Recover My Damages?

When you hire a personal injury attorney, they will quickly investigate the cause of your accident and document all possible damages. They will also analyze all available evidence, including the police report, medical discharge papers, receipts, income and earnings, and other documentation.

Your injury attorney will then document all losses you have suffered and present them in a claim seeking total reimbursement of all covered damages. Personal injury lawyers have experience handling claims and dealing with insurers, so they will be aware of what factors impact the valuation of a claim and what is needed to seek all applicable damages.

Your injury lawyer can then negotiate with the insurer in order to seek the full amount of damages you have suffered.

While having an injury lawyer does not guarantee that you will be able to recover all — or any — damages, their experience and legal knowledge will not only make the claims process easier but can also help you strategize your claim to seek a higher settlement amount. By taking thorough documentation, working with expert witnesses, investigating the crash, and gathering all available evidence, your lawyer can help you seek to increase your settlement amount while increasing your chances of success overall.

To learn more about how a personal injury lawyer can help you, call us at (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with our experienced Connecticut injury lawyers.