What Will I Be Able to Recover?
What Constitutes Damages in the Eyes of the Law?
When new clients hire us to represent them, a common question they have is, “what will I be able to recover?” Louisiana law allows for recovery of a variety of damages, depending on your injuries, property damage, and the types of loss that were suffered. Every car accident case is different, so each person’s damages will depend on the circumstances of the accident.
This post provides a quick summary of the types of damages that may be available after you are involved in a car wreck:
Medical Bills – If you are injured in a car accident that was not your fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills. This includes bills for emergency room visits, hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, examinations, tests, prescriptions, and medical treatment.
Lost Wages/Income – If your injuries cause you to miss time from work, the at-fault driver’s insurance company must compensate you for lost income you have suffered. This includes direct wages that were lost due to time missed from work, but can also include compensation for sick leave and vacation days that you are forced to use for doctor’s appointments and recovery time.
Future Loss of Earning Capacity – If your injuries are so severe that they will limit your ability to work in the future, you are entitled to compensation for the future income that you will lose. In other words, the at-fault driver’s insurance company must pay for sums that you would have earned working in the future, if you had not been injured in a car accident.
General Damages – In Louisiana, persons injured in a car wreck are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost enjoyment of life. Louisiana law refers to these damages as “general damages,” which is a catch-all term for damages that cannot be easily quantified in terms of money. For example, if your injuries prevent you from participating in hobbies that you used to enjoy, or keep you from doing activities with your family that you were able to do before the accident, you will be entitled to monetary compensation for that. General damages vary from case to case, depending on the severity of your injuries, how much the injuries impacted your life, and the length of time that you undergo medical treatment.
Mileage – You are entitled to recover reasonable mileage expenses for your travel to and from your doctor’s appointments.
Property Damage – If the car accident was not your fault, the other driver’s insurance company must pay to repair your vehicle. If your vehicle is totaled in the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company must pay you the fair market value of your vehicle at the time of the wreck.
Loss of Use of Vehicle – You may be entitled to compensation for being unable to use your vehicle after it was damaged in a car accident. For example, if you must rent a car while your vehicle is in the shop, the other driver’s insurance company may be liable to reimburse you for rental charges.
Diminished Value – A vehicle loses some value simply by being involved in a car accident. While a body shop may be able to repair the damage enough to make your vehicle look good to the naked eye, the vehicle will never be worth quite as much as it was before the accident. Louisiana law recognizes this, and allows for the recovery of diminished value damages. These damages are not available in every case, but they are sometimes recoverable in cases involving specialized or rare vehicles, vehicles with custom work, or vehicles that were new at the time of the wreck.
Loss of Consortium – If your spouse or immediately family member was injured in a car accident, you may be entitled recover damages even if you were not physically injured yourself. If a person’s injuries prevent them from doing things around the house, negatively affect their sexual activities, or result in mood changes that diminish love and affection, the injured person’s spouse and immediately family may be entitled to additional compensation. Louisiana law uses the term “loss of consortium” to describe all damages suffered by the loved ones of a person injured in a car accident.