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How Are Damages Determined in an Auto Accident Case?

In the weeks following a serious auto accident, recovering from injuries is not the only challenge you may face. Inability to work and mounting medical bills often create substantial financial losses. As such, it is vital to document all of your financial and personal losses early on to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

In Texas, injured parties can sue for economic and non-economic damages, also known as compensatory damages. The intention of a personal injury lawsuit is to make the injured party “whole,” putting them in the same financial position they would have been in had the accident not occurred.

Economic damages are the actual financial losses you incur after an accident, such as medical bills, lost wages and damage to your vehicle.

To support your damages claim, you will need to show evidence of how much you spent or how much you lost. Therefore, it is critical to keep copies of all medical bills, car repair estimates, paycheck stubs and receipts for personal property that may have been damaged while in the vehicle, such as cell phones or laptops.

If your injuries result in you needing continuing medical care or being unable to return to work, you can seek compensation to pay for your future medical care and lost future earnings.

Texas also allows accident victims to receive compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement and loss of consortium. These losses are much harder to calculate and assign a firm dollar amount.

If the defendant driver acted intentionally or was grossly negligent when committing the harmful act, an injured motorist can also seek punitive damages — also known in Texas as exemplary damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongful driver.

Texas caps punitive damages at the larger of $200,000 or two times the amount of economic damages plus the amount equal to non-economic damages up to a maximum of $750,000.

Even if you are partially responsible for the accident, Texas is a comparative fault state so you can still collect damages, but they will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if an injured party is 40 percent responsible for the accident, the most they can recover is 60 percent of their total damages. Therefore, if they sustained $100,000 in total losses, the maximum they can recover is $40,000.

Since understanding and calculating the different types of damages available in Texas is complex, you should enlist an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you so they can secure the largest possible settlement or award on your behalf.

Leland Reinhard Law Firm assists clients throughout Johnson, Hill, Somervell and Hood counties who are seeking compensation after being injured in a motor vehicle accident. Call 817-645-5400 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation at my Cleburne office.