How much can someone sue for a car accident? It’s one of the most-common questions people have about car accident claims—and with good reason. If you’ve been injured, you need to know how much you are entitled to recover so that you can seek the full compensation you deserve.
Car accidents can have devastating consequences. Injuries from car accidents can have lifelong effects, from physical disabilities to post-traumatic stress. They can also be incredibly expensive; and, over a person’s lifetime, the costs of recovering from a car accident can far exceed what most can afford to pay. So, how much can someone sue for a car accident?
The answer depends on the person’s losses—in most cases.
Understanding “Just Compensation” for Car Accident Injuries
When you file a claim after a car accident, in the vast majority of cases, you are suing for “just compensation.” This means that you are seeking to recover your actual losses. As “compensation,” any money you receive is intended to replace what you have lost (or will lose in the future). In other words, it is intended to make you “whole”—or as whole as you can be if you have suffered a permanent or disabling injury.
With regard to the question of, “How much can someone sue for a car accident?”, this means that the amount someone can recover will be determined based on their individual circumstances. In most states, the types of compensation available to car accident victims (and their families) include:
- Medical bills
- Therapy and rehabilitation bills
- Prescription costs
- Medical supply and device costs
- Travel and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
- Scarring, disfigurement, and loss of digits or limbs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of services, society, and support
Depending on the severity of a car accident victim’s injuries, these losses could be anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. The range really is that wide. If your injuries are minor and you don’t miss much (or any) time from work, you might not have many losses to recover. On the other hand, if you have suffered greatly, are still in pain, and will be forced to live with a disability for the rest of your life, then your losses could be substantial.
Of course, most cases fall somewhere in between these two extremes. This is why most insurance policies provide the coverage that they do. If your losses exceed the insurance coverage that is available, then you might be limited to collecting the policy limit. On the other hand, there may be other sources of compensation available, and an experienced attorney may still be able to help you recover the full compensation you deserve.
How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident: Calculating Your Losses
Regardless of the amount you are entitled to recover, in order to sue, you need to know how much you are owed. This means that you must accurately calculate your financial and non-financial losses.
- Calculating Financial Losses – Calculating your financial losses involves much more than just adding up your receipts and lost income. You also need to determine how much your injuries will cost you in the future.
- Calculating Non-Financial Losses – There are two primary methods for calculating non-financial losses after a car accident. One method (the “per diem” method) involves applying a daily dollar value to your pain, suffering, and other losses. The other method (the “multiplier” method) involves adding up your financial losses and then multiplying the total by a number between 1.5 and 5.
When it comes to how much someone can sue for after a car accident, the general rule is that the more-severe a person’s injuries, the more compensation he or she is entitled to recover. However, as a practical matter, this is far from the only factor. Your legal representation plays a huge role as well, as your attorney will need to not only accurately calculate your losses, but also fight effectively for the compensation you deserve.
How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident: Third-Party Claims
As we mentioned above, in some cases, the available auto insurance coverage will limit how much someone can sue for a car accident. But, this will not always be the case. In fact, in many cases, accident victims will have claims outside of auto insurance. For example, if you were injured in an accident and any of the following factors played a role, an attorney may be able to help you secure compensation beyond any auto insurance coverage that is available:
- Brake or tire failure
- Airbag or seatbelt defect
- Road defect or hazard
- Negligent hiring or supervision
- Overserving a drunk patron or guest
When these types of non-driver-related factors are to blame for car accidents, victims can file “third party” claims outside of auto insurance. Since businesses typically have more insurance coverage (and more assets) than drivers, these types of claims will often allow for greater financial recoveries.
When Can Someone Seek Punitive Damages for a Car Accident?
Finally, when addressing the question of, “How much can someone sue for a car accident?”, it is also important to consider the possibility of suing for punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not based on victims’ actual losses. Instead, they are meant to punish those who engage in particularly-dangerous conduct.
For example, many states allow victims to recover punitive damages after drunk driving accidents. If you have a claim for punitive damages, these are in addition to the compensatory damages you are entitled to recover. As a result, suing for punitive damages can significantly increase your overall financial recovery—but, again, in order to do so you will need to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced attorney through CarAccidentSource.com.