What are the Damages in a Kentucky Car Accident Case?
An automobile accident can turn your world upside down, especially if there are injuries resulting from the wreck. The financial impact of a car accident can be burdensome as well, so it is important that you or a loved one do your best to keep records of the expenses that you incur. These expenses will help determine the value of your case should you decide to pursue a claim against the driver that caused the accident and/or one of the insurance companies that may be involved.
What to do if You are in a Car Accident
If you are not seriously injured in the wreck, be sure to get the following information at the scene of the accident:
- The other driver's name and number (there may be more than one driver involved)
- The insurance company information for all involved drivers
- The police report
- All witness names and numbers
- If possible, photograph the scene and vehicle damage
After the accident, be sure to contact your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver(s) to document any injuries and property damage. The insurance company for the driver that caused the accident will likely want to take a recorded statement. It is often wise that you consult a Louisville car accident attorney before you give a statement. The attorney will certainly not tell you to do anything other than tell the truth. However, it is valuable to learn what to expect and how to handle certain types of questions. Many questions require the truthful answer of "I don't know" or "I don't remember". Also, many lawyers prefer that questions be answered briefly and other questions be answered with lengthy responses.
Why You Should Consult a Lawyer
The insurance company may offer a settlement. It is the insurance company's goal to get a release signed. It may be beneficial to consult a Kentucky attorney that handles personal injury cases for advice on how to value your case. If you or a loved one has suffered significant injuries or permanent injuries in a Kentucky automobile accident, it is more likely that the advice of a Kentucky attorney will be beneficial.
One reason you may want to consult with a lawyer is to be sure that the settlement offer is fair and will cover current and future expenses associated with the automobile accident and adequately compensate for pain and suffering. A spouse or a minor child or the parent(s) of a minor child may also have the right to make claims for loss of consortium (or the loss of love and affection).
It may also be important to discuss questions of liability (fault), pre-existing conditions (such as prior injuries, accidents, surgeries) and insurance issues. Insurance issues may involve the situation where the responsible driver had insufficient coverage to fairly compensate the victims. This situation may give rise to the need to file a claim for Underinsured Motorist benefits (or make an Underinsured claim). There may also be multiple victims and split limits insurance. In this situation, available coverage may be limited per person and per accident. The responsible driver may also have been uninsured at the time of the car wreck giving rise to the likely need to file an Uninsured Motorist Claim.
Car Accident Damages
- Medical expenses to date
- Future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages
- Impairment to the ability to labor and earn in the future (future lost wages)
- Physical pain and suffering (both past and future)
- Emotional pain and suffering or mental pain and suffering (both past and future)
- Automobile repair/replacement (property damage)
- Loss of consortium claims
- Car rental
- Out of pocket expenses such as crutches, bandages, medications, childcare expenses, etc.
- Punitive damages
These items make up "compensatory damages". Compensatory damages are the money awarded to a person who has suffered a loss or injury resulting from another party's actions/inactions that compensate for the injuries/loss. Some compensatory damages, such as pain and suffering are difficult to quantify. Keep a record of the negative ways that the injuries affect your day to day life. Car accidents may have serious emotional consequences that may influence your life as well.
Although rare, car accident victims in Kentucky can sometimes pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages do not look at what it will take to compensate the injured victim. Rather, punitive damages look at what it will take to punish the wrongdoer. To achieve punitive damages there must be a showing of malicious or wanton or grossly reckless behavior, etc.
How to Get Legal Help
In any case, it is extremely important to be able to value the financial impact of a Kentucky automobile accident. Some expenses may be easily quantifiable; however, the future impact of any injuries may be more difficult to assess. It is also difficult to value pain and suffering. A Kentucky car accident attorney can help you navigate the sometimes complicated process of pursuing a personal injury claim and determining the damages in a car accident. You are welcome and encouraged to contact Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, via email or (502) 242-8877, to set up a free consultation on your potential automobile accident claim.