What Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?

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What damages can I recover after a car accident? When you are injured in a car accident because of somebody else's negligence, you are entitled to financial compensation. The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the specifics of your case, the extent of your injuries and the skill of your personal injury attorney. If you were injured in a car accident, call the car accident lawyers of Halvorsen Klote today at 877-51-HKLAW or contact us online. We evaluate your claim for free, and you don't owe us a thing unless we win your case.

Types of Damages You Can Recover | St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers

In tort cases, the compensation you generally receive is what's called actual or compensatory damages, which seek to compensate you for the economic losses and noneconomic losses resulting from your injuries. In rare occasions, you may be able to seek punitive damages for wanton or willful misconduct.

In the landmark 1876 Supreme Court case Birdsall et al. v. Coolidge, the Supreme Court rules that:

the amount awarded shall be precisely commensurate with the injury suffered, neither more nor less.

Read on to find out more about the damages available to you for your car accident.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the financial loss you sustained as a direct result of your injuries. They commonly include:

  • Lost wages for time spent off work recovering
  • Lost earning capacity if your injuries result in a disability that doesn't allow you to perform the tasks of your job anymore
  • Medical expenses, including:
    • Emergency room visits
    • Subsequent doctors appointments
    • Surgeries
    • Physical therapy and/or rehabilitation
    • Medication costs
    • In-home medical care
    • Assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs or necessary improvements to your home or vehicle
    • Future estimated medical expenses, such as further physical therapy or medication, or replacement costs for assistive devices or joint replacements
  • Transportation costs to and from medical appointments
  • Property damage, such as damage to your car
  • Burial and funeral expenses after a fatal car crash

Following an injury in a car accident, it's important to keep all of your bills and receipts related to your treatment, and an accurate log of the time you've spent off work. If your injuries result in lost earning capacity, or require future medical expenses, Halvorsen Klote's car accident lawyers will consult with medical and economic experts to properly assess the full value of your claim.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages are meant to compensate you for the emotional and physical hardships you face because of your injuries. Missouri and Illinois each define noneconomic damages a little differently, according to Missouri Senate Bill 239 and 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.2:

In Missouri, "without limitation":

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Inconvenience
  • Physical impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of capacity to enjoy life
  • Loss of consortium

In Illinois, "including but not limited to":

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society

Neither of those definitions are all-encompassing, and you will need a dedicated and talented car accident lawyer to relate your story to the insurance adjuster or jury so they understand the full impact your injuries have had on your life. If you can no longer play with your children or grandchildren the same way because of your injuries, you are entitled to financial compensation for that.

You can read about how noneconomic damages are calculated in our FAQ about how much money you can get from a car accident settlement.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are rare in personal injury claims, especially given recent tort reform. Again, the laws concerning punitive damages in Illinois and Missouri are different:

In Missouri, according to Revised Statute ยง510.261, punitive damages may only be awarded if:

the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.

In Illinois, pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.05, in order for punitive damages to be awarded:

a plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant's conduct was with evil motive or with a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and with a conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others.

In car accidents, punitive damages are only awarded in cases concerning drunk driving or extreme reckless driving.

In Illinois, punitive damages cannot exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages.

Missouri recently passed Senate Bill 591, which raised the standard for punitive damages. As the bill was specifically meant for claims against healthcare providers, it's unclear how it will affect car accident claims.

St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers | Halvorsen Klote

The skilled and experienced car accident lawyers of Halvorsen Klote will fight hard to make sure you are compensated for every one of the damages you are entitled to. We take a client-center approach to our practice and inform you of everything you need to know to make the best decision for you and your family. If you've been injured in a car accident, call the St. Louis based car accident lawyers of Halvorsen Klote today at 877-51-HKLAW or contact us online for a free case review.