When someone is seriously injured in an accident, it can be a life-altering event for victims and their loved ones. Medical bills start to pile up, and if the injured party is the primary breadwinner in their household, time missed from work can put a major financial strain on everyone involved. If the accident results from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, the injury victim should be compensated for their losses. This is commonly referred to as “damages”.
There are several different types of damages that a victim may be entitled to in an accident injury case. These can be broken down into three general categories; economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are actual losses incurred by the injured party that can be quantified. Examples may include:
- Property Damage: In many accident cases, there is serious damage to the property of the victim. This is most common in motor vehicle accidents when vehicles often get totaled or there are significant repairs required to bring the vehicle back to its previous state (before the accident occurred).
- Medical Expenses: When an individual is injured in an accident, they often incur significant medical bills. Examples include hospitalization costs and costs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and in the case of a debilitating injury, ongoing medical care.
- Lost Wages: Injury victims often miss a lot of time from work during the recovery process. This can be several days, weeks, or even months depending on the extent of the injuries. In the most severe cases, an injured party may no longer be able to go back to their previous job or any job at all. In such cases, they should also be compensated for loss of future earning capacity.
- Funeral and Burial Costs: In cases in which someone is killed in an accident, the victim’s loved ones should receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses.
These are damages that the victim suffers, but it is difficult to assign a dollar figure to because it has to do with the impact the injury has had on the victim’s life. Non-economic damages may include:
- Physical Pain and Suffering: Someone who suffers a serious injury has to live with ongoing physical pain. This may be a temporary situation, or the pain may go on indefinitely. While no amount of money can get rid of the physical pain someone experiences on a daily basis, the victim deserves to receive financial compensation to help make up for the suffering they are forced to endure.
- Psychological Distress: A severe injury causes more than just physical pain. There is also emotional distress that comes with having to live with the injuries that were sustained. It is not uncommon for victims to experience fear, anxiety, sleepless nights, and other emotional affects from the injury.
- Diminished Quality of Life: Injuries often deprive the victim of the ability to participate in activities they used to enjoy. For example, if an injured party enjoyed outdoor activities such as running or playing tennis and they are no longer physically able to do these things, they should be compensated for loss of enjoyment.
There are some rare cases in which punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather to “punish” the responsible party when their negligent or reckless actions were especially egregious. In order to obtain punitive damages, it must be shown that the party responsible acted with willful and wanton conduct or actual malice toward the victim. In Virginia, punitive damages are capped at $350,000.
Recovering Damages in a Virginia Accident Case
To recover damages in a VA accident case, the victim must show that the other party was 100% at-fault for the accident. Virginia is one of only a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, if the injured party is determined to be even 1% at-fault for the accident, they can be barred from recovering compensation. This is a high hurdle to overcome, and for this reason, it is essential to work with a seasoned attorney who has a successful track record pursuing these types of cases.
Injured in an Accident in Virginia? Speak with the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schilling & Esposito
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident and someone else was at fault, you have a right to be compensated. These cases can be extremely complicated, however, and it can be difficult to recover compensation if the accident occurred in Virginia. At Schilling & Esposito, we have extensive experience with even the most complex and high-profile personal injury cases, and we have the skills, knowledge, resources, and dedication to ensure that our clients receive the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our web contact form.