If you have been injured in a car crash in Arizona, you get one chance to pursue damages to fully compensate you for your injuries, related expenses, and any punitive penalties that might be levied on the responsible party. There are no do-overs—no opportunities to go back and try to arrive at a different, better settlement or to argue your case in court again.
That is why it is absolutely essential that you hire an attorney who is experienced in personal injury cases and knows the full range of damages you may be able to pursue. The full scope of those damages may surprise you. Let’s take a look at the various categories and what goes into determining how much money you may be entitled to receive.
Detailing the Categories of Damages
A personal injury claim from a car accident can include:
- Past, ongoing, and future medical expenses. The party responsible for your injuries should compensate you for any and all medical expenses—including ongoing expenses and future expenses—that arise as a result of the accident. If your injuries require long-term treatment and rehabilitation, the cost of that care can be included in the calculation of damages.
- Past, ongoing, and future lost income. You may well lose wages as a result of needing to miss work due to your injuries—and that may be an ongoing issue if your injuries are severe. You are entitled to damages that cover the full scope of your potential wage losses, including future wages that you may be unable to count on now that you have been injured.
- Out of pocket expenses. After an accident—particularly one in which your vehicle is seriously damaged and you have sustained a range of injuries—a surprising number of expenses can pop up as a result of the incident. For example, damages may be awarded to cover a variety of costs, including those related to obtaining a rental car while yours is being repaired, childcare for dependents while you are receiving medical care, help around the house while you are recuperating, and the replacement of property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
- Compensation for pain and suffering. In Arizona, you are allowed to pursue damages for the pain and suffering you have sustained as a result of the accident. While it is more difficult to assign a specific monetary value in this category, your attorney can make the case that you should be appropriately compensated for your physical and emotional trauma.
How the Math Works
Among the categories listed above, the first three involve economic damages. That is, they involve actual expenses that can be determined by looking at bills, receipts, and the like. In the case of compensation for future losses, data about current losses can be used to estimate future lost wages, future medical expenses, and other ongoing costs related to your injuries.
The fourth category—pain and suffering—is, as we have noted, hard to assign a monetary value to. Arizona juries have broad discretion in this category, but often use either the “multiplier method”—which multiplies economic damages, generally by a number one through five chosen based on the severity of the injuries in question—or the “per diem method”—which multiplies a daily rate by the number of days the victim is likely to continue to suffer. The rate for the per diem approach is often set at the same rate as the injured individual’s daily wage.
The Possibility of Punitive Damages
In rare cases, you may be able to pursue punitive damages—that is damages that are levied on the responsible party as a punishment for extreme recklessness or other egregious actions that contributed to—or outright caused—the accident. An example of the kind of behavior that could result in punitive damages would be a case in which the other driver rammed your vehicle on purpose because they were angry with you.
Often, a multiplier is used to arrive at a total for punitive damages. For example, the court may multiply your compensatory damages (all the categories mentioned above) by three to arrive at a total.
To Collect What You Deserve, You Need an Experienced Attorney
There’s a good chance you found some of the above (or even all of the above) confusing. That’s okay—and it also highlights just why you need an attorney by your side. The attorneys of Griffen & Stevens understand the law, know how to investigate the case, and are committed to helping you recoup every dollar to which you are entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.