How are Damages Calculated in Accident Cases in VA?
When an individual is seriously injured do to the negligence or reckless actions of another party, it can turn their whole world upside down. Injury victims often deal with hardships such as mounting medical bills and lost wages due to time missed from work. This can put enormous financial and emotional stress on the entire household. Individuals who are injured in an accident that another party was responsible for deserve to be compensated for their losses. This compensation is often referred to as “damages.”
Compensatory Damages in Virginia Accident Injury Cases
Damages meant to compensate for the victim’s losses in an accident injury case are divided into two general categories; economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are actual losses that can be quantified, while non-economic damages are those that are hard to assign a dollar figure to.
Examples of economic damages for injury cases may include:
- Property Damage: In many VA accident cases, damage is done to the property of the injury victim. For example, in an automobile crash, it is not uncommon for vehicles to be severely damaged or totaled.
- Medical Bills: As mentioned earlier, accident injury victims often incur major medical expenses. This can include hospitalization, medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, and the cost of ongoing medical care in cases which result in a permanent debilitating condition.
- Lost Wages: An injured party from an accident often has to miss a lot of time from work to recover. In more severe cases, this could add up to several weeks or even months out of work. When victims suffer a debilitating injury that prevent them from going back to work or force them to take a lower-paying job, they should also be compensated for loss of future earning capacity.
- Funeral/Burial Expenses: The most severe accidents can result in fatalities. When this occurs, the victim’s loved ones should be compensated for the costs incurred for their loved one’s funeral and burial.
Here are some examples of non-economic damages in an accident case:
- Physical Pain and Suffering: Those who suffer from severe injuries have frequent and ongoing physical pain. This pain and suffering can go on for an extended period of time and in some cases, become permanent. You really can’t put a price on someone’s physically suffering, but the victim should be financially compensated nonetheless.
- Emotional Distress: Another type of suffering that cannot be quantified is the emotional or psychological distress that comes from having to adjust to life after the injury. Some of the effects of emotional distress include fear, anxiety, and sleepless nights.
- Diminished Quality of Life: When someone is injured in an accident, they are often robbed of their ability to participate in activities they once enjoyed. For example, if someone who used to run marathons has to have their leg amputated because of a car accident, they can seek compensation for loss of enjoyment.
Punitive Damages in Virginia
In rare cases in which the actions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter them (and others) from similarly egregious behavior in the future. Virginia statute § 8.01-38.1 caps punitive damages at $350,000.
How Virginia’s Contributory Negligence Laws Affect Damages
Virginia is one of only a handful of states that applies the legal standard known as “contributory negligence.” Under this standard, injury victims who are found to have “contributed” in any way to the accident can be barred from recovering compensation. This means that even if the other party is 99% at-fault, an injured party may not be able to recover damages if they are even 1% responsible. With such a high bar to clear, it is absolutely imperative that you work with a skilled attorney who understands Virginia law and has a proven track record with these types of cases.
Speak with an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone close to you was injured in an accident, you need strong legal counsel in your corner aggressively advocating for your rights and interests. At Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, we have helped countless clients successfully recover damages for injuries sustained due to the reckless actions or omissions of another party. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we know what it takes to prevail against even the most complex and challenging cases.
For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our Charlottesville office today at 434.977.7977. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.