Compensation for Car Accidents

Despite hundreds of commercials from trial attorneys emphasizing that anyone involved in a car accident is entitled to legal compensation, many people still don’t speak to a lawyer after an accident, even if it is a not at fault car accident. That’s because they don’t understand what they can get if they are in a wreck.

Types of Damages

Legal compensation for accident victims is divided into two different types of damages:

  • Compensatory damages. These cover the economic damages such as medical bills and damages to your car. Basically, these are called “out-of-pocket” expenses. You can also recover non-economic damages, in other words, “pain and suffering.” The point of compensatory damages is to make sure you recover fully from your wreck—financially, emotionally and medically.
  • Punitive damages. These are damages you can recover if the other driver was irresponsible or reckless. However, it is important to determine fault in a car accident. This can include:
    1. Distracted drivers such as someone on their cell phone or changing the radio station while driving.
    2. Drunk or intoxicated drivers who got behind the wheel of the car and caused the wreck.
    3. Punitive damages can be awarded if there was a defect in the vehicle that caused the wreck.

How to Seek Legal Compensation

You may wonder if you even need an attorney. But as countless commercials for attorneys mention, you need to protect your legal rights such as ensuring you get your auto accident injury compensation. And you probably don’t have the time to do everything you need to do to file suit or fight for your rights.

When you decide to hire an attorney, you should follow some important steps, according to the American Bar Association:

  • Ask the lawyer for details about fees, what expenses you will be responsible for in addition to fees, an estimate of the total fees and expenses, and how long the legal matter will likely take to complete. Be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand anything. But remember that an attorney cannot predict exactly how many hours of work it will take to handle your case.
  • Get a second opinion. Don’t feel like you have to take the attorney with the biggest ad in the phone book. Most consultations are free. Don’t sign with an attorney until you are completely comfortable with him or her.
  • Work with your attorney. While they will handle the bulk of the case, from time to time you will need to provide documents or evidence. Get those to him or her in a timely manner.
  • Listen to what they have to say. Attorneys have handled hundreds of cases and some of them like yours. You may think you know the course of action but you have to realize your attorney has the training and experience.