Traffic accidents are common in Indiana, causing injuries to over 50,000 people every year. Their victims are not fully aware of their rights. Many of them neglect to consult an auto accident lawyer and seek compensation or do not claim all the damages the law entitles them to.
Depending on the severity of the accident and of the injuries it has caused, the law entitles victims to several types of damages. Of course, the claimant will have to prove that they incurred the respective damages in order to obtain compensation. We will review the available types of damages and the evidence requirements in the following lines.
Types of Damages an Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer May Recover for Their Clients
The damages available in car accident cases fall into two major categories: economic and non-economic. Let’s review the specifics of each category below:
1. Economic Damages
This category includes the expenses and financial losses the victim incurred due to their accident. To prove them, the victim will have to provide bills, receipts, cost estimates, and, maybe, expert evaluations. Common examples of economic damages include:
- Property damages: the costs of repairing or replacing the car and any other assets damaged in the accident
- Medical expenses: hospital bills, doctor fees, treatment costs, surgery costs, medical devices, therapy, etc.
- Lost income and earning capacity: the wages the victim lost due to their injuries and the wages they will never make if the accident left them disabled
- Disability adjustment expenses: home and car adjustments (installing an elevator, support bars, wheel controls, etc.), wheel chair, home care, etc.
2. Non-Economic Damages
This category includes losses that are more difficult to quantify. Their goal is to compensate the victim for their physical and emotional suffering. They are generally awarded in cases involving serious injuries. Depending on case specifics and the available evidence, they can reach record amounts, in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Common examples on non-economic damages include:
- Disfigurement: compensation awarded to accident victims who incur severe facial injuries and are left with visible, unsightly scars that affect their looks, their self-confidence, and their personal and professional life.
- Pain and suffering: compensation awarded in cases involving post-traumatic stress and severe, painful injuries that require surgery and/or involve long and painful recovery periods.
- Loss of consortium or enjoyment: compensation awarded to those who lose their spouses or their ability to enjoy life due their accident injuries.
Proving these losses is more challenging and should be left to an experienced Indianapolis auto accident lawyer. The latter may use medical evaluations, drug leaflets and medical studies, witness testimonies, case precedents, and more.
A separate category of damages, rarely claimed and awarded in car accident cases are punitive damages. They are only awarded in civil court. Since most car accident cases allow recovery from insurance companies, these can rarely be claimed.
They aim to punish the party at fault and discourage similar behaviors. According to Indiana Code section § 34-51-3-5, punitive damages cannot exceed three times the value of the other compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is greater.
According to section § 34-51-3-6, the accident victim will receive 25% of the amount awarded. The rest of 75% will go to the state treasury and, from there, to the violent crime compensation fund. Indiana law makes it clear that in order to recover punitive damages the claimant will have to provide clear and convincing evidence.
They will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the party at fault acted intentionally or showed extreme negligence and disregard for laws and public safety. Common examples include: consuming alcohol while knowing they would have to drive and getting being the wheel in a severe state of sobriety or racing on public roads.
In Indiana, accident victims are the ones responsible for proving their case. To make sure they gather all the necessary evidence, it is in their best interest to work with an experienced car accident lawyer. The latter will claim all the types of damages available in the respective case and do everything necessary to obtain them.
Get Help with Your Compensation Claim from an Experienced Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer!
At Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers, we always claim all the types of damages available in our clients’ cases. We obtain the necessary evidence and do not rest until we get the compensation our clients deserve. You too can benefit from our help. All you have to do is call our office and schedule a free consultation. Our Indianapolis auto accident lawyer will review your case and advise you accordingly.