What Types Of Damages Are Available In A Car Accident Case?

Texas Car Accident Laws and Recovering Compensation for your Injuries

The legal term for carelessness is negligence.

Drivers in Texas are required to maintain a basic level of care. This includes following all traffic laws, posted speed limits and signs.

If you have been harmed by someone else’ carelessness while driving, you have the right to be paid compensation for your property damages and any bodily injury. The company or person who caused your accident must make you whole.

That means they must take steps (or pay money) to put you as closely as possible into the financial position you were in before the loss.

Texas Permits Different Types of Damages in a Car Accident Lawsuit

Economic damages

After a Texas auto accident, some of your harm can be repaired. These are generally known as economic damages:

  • Property Damage
    An auto mechanic can often repair the car. Even if the vehicle is totaled (damaged beyond repair), it can often be replaced.
  • Medical Bills
    If you have bills from a doctor or hospital, the person who caused the accident may have to pay for them.
  • Lost Wages
    If you miss work, the negligent person or company can pay for your lost wages.

Non-economic damages

Money can address some of your costs like medical bills or therapy.

But with bodily injuries and other losses, money may not really be enough to ‘make you whole’.

You may have permanent physical pain or damage. You may have mental anguish or trauma from the accident. You may be unable to work. In the worst cases, you may even have lost a loved one.

In these cases, the law tries to compensate you by assigning a dollar figure to the damages you suffered. This is not a perfect fix. It is the best that the law and society can come up with to make you whole under the circumstances.

Calculating your injuries in a negligence lawsuit in Texas

In any Texas personal injury lawsuit, the amount of damages must be calculated. The damages will depend on the circumstances of your case.

Calculating economic damages

Under Texas law, personal injury cases are generally limited to:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

The first step is to find the total amount of your medical costs related to the injury. This is usually the amount of the medical bills and repair costs.

Calculating non-economic damages

In some cases, you can also recover damages for:

  • Wrongful death
  • Loss of companionship (e.g., a spouse that is paralyzed)
  • Emotional distress

To calculate pain and suffering or other damages, the total medical costs are usually multiplied by a number, generally between 1.5 and 5.

The number that is used varies depending on the circumstances of the injury.

For example, if your injuries were serious, the number used could be higher than 5. The amount of your lost wages is then added to that number. The result gives a starting number to begin settlement negotiations. If your case can be settled, you will not need to go to court.

Texas Permits Punitive Damages, Known As Exemplary Damages

When someone was particularly reckless and harmed others, sometimes courts punish the person by making them pay additional money. These are often known as punitive damages.

They are designed to prevent that person from being reckless again. They also make an example of that person, so that others know to act carefully. That’s why in Texas, they are called exemplary damages.

For example, a jury might decide to award exemplary damages if:

  • The driver that caused your Texas auto accident had a history of unsafe or intoxicated driving
  • The at-fault driver was driving especially dangerously and harmed someone severely

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 41, permits exemplary damages to punish reckless and intentional behavior that harms others.

However, Texas law provides certain limits on exemplary damages.

Calculating what your case is worth is complex. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call Justinian and Associates today. We offer a free consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney (not a “screener.”)

Tell us your story and we will explain your rights under Texas law. There is no fee, there is no obligation. And if you choose us to represent you, unless we get you compensation for your injuries, you owe us nothing.