A personal injury case can really take a toll on your overall mental and physical health. After all, you’re trying to heal the damage to your body while keeping stress at a minimum. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may find yourself spending weeks or even months going through the recovery process.
While medical professionals are in charge of the healing and recovery process, what about your finances? Your personal injury case can be damaging to your finances, and it can seem impossible to get back on secure financial footing. So, what are economic damages, and how can you repair your finances after an injury?
What are Economic Damages
Economic damages are defined as any monetary losses you experience resulting from a personal injury accident. These losses are recoverable in the form of insurance payouts and court settlements.
Not all finances are considered recoverable. For example, your account balance before an accident. However, a personal injury claim can help compensate you for some of the losses and expenses associated with the accident.
Types of Recoverable Economic Damages
While not all financial damages are considered recoverable, you can recoup some of your losses. What is considered a recoverable financial loss can vary by state, which is why it is always best to seek advice from a qualified attorney. Here is a brief look at recoverable economic damages accepted in most states.
Property loss claims in personal injury claims typically apply to vehicle damage and rarely to homes and other structures. While this may seem confusing at first glance, the reasoning behind it is simple.
Very few personal injuries are the result of homes falling on them, however, vehicle accidents are common and the injuries can be severe. Filing a claim to receive monetary compensation for vehicle damage typically involves estimates from court-approved repair shops. Your insurance and the at-fault driver’s insurance adjusters will also require damage appraisals and repair cost estimates.
Approved claims will typically cover the estimated repairs. When the vehicle is damaged beyond repair, the monetary award can cover all or part of the cost of a new vehicle. Don’t get too excited if your vehicle is not repairable. Some settlements only cover the Blue Book value of your vehicle before the accident. In this case, you may still be paying out-of-pocket to replace your totaled car.
Even if your accident only results in a broken leg, the medical bills can still be astronomical. From the ambulance ride to the emergency visit, x-rays, and the cast, these expenses can quickly add up.
Hopefully, the at-fault individual is carrying adequate insurance. However, this doesn’t always mean all of your medical bills and recovery costs are covered.
A good tip to always remember is to never settle with an insurance adjuster’s initial offer. The offered sum may be tempting, but once you accept the agreement, you can’t refile a claim. You are legally responsible for any additional costs.
Working with a personal injury attorney, you can file a claim to cover all of your current medical expenses and any future necessary care.
Some of the medical costs you can recover include:
- Ambulance rides
- Emergency room care
- Physician visits
- Prescribed medications
- Physical and rehabilitative therapy
- Diagnostic tests, including x-rays
- Lab tests
Your claim can also compensate you for any expenses associated with traveling to and from your medical appointments.
To speed up your personal injury claim, save all of your medical records and travel receipts. You also want to keep receipts for your prescriptions. Your attorney will need these documents to substantiate your financial damages claim.
Even a minor injury from an accident can prevent you from working. How long you are unable to work depends on the extent of your injuries. You may be out for a few weeks or several months. Without a paycheck, it is almost impossible to keep up with your bills.
You can often recover your lost wages, including tips, and potential bonuses. You will need to provide proof of income in the form of past paycheck stubs and tax records. If you do not have or cannot access these documents, your employer should be able to provide your attorney with the necessary documentation.
Lifestyle changes do not refer to any adjustments you are planning to make in the future. This part of your personal injury claim only applies to how your lifestyle has changed since the accident.
Some examples of recoverable costs include covering fees associated with hiring outside help to assist with chores around the house. Adding a wheelchair ramp and making your house handicap accessible can also be covered in your claim. If you will be reliant on transportation services for the remainder of your life, your personal injury claim can cover these expenses.
Before adding lifestyle changes to your claim, decide what type of long-term care you will need to live a healthy and productive life.
The Collateral Source Rule
During your personal injury claim, you will probably learn about the collateral source rule. The rule is typically applied when a plaintiff is trying to recover economic damages.
Your insurance often covers most or all of your medical expenses. The rule prevents the defendant from showing the jury you are currently being partially compensated. In other words, your insurance cannot be used against you in a personal injury case.
The rule is put in place to prevent defendants from getting out of paying full restitution for any injuries plaintiffs may have sustained as a result of the accident. How the law is applied can vary by state, especially in malpractice cases. Your attorney will explain how the collateral source rule applies in your unique case.
Personal Injuries Can Be Financially Devastating, But You Can Recover Your Losses
Personal injury accidents can happen to anyone at almost any time—upending their normal lives in the process. Resulting medical bills, lost wages, transportation requirements, and even lifestyle changes can leave you financially and emotionally devastated.
Thankfully, you can take steps to recover your financial damages. So if you’ve been in an injury-causing accident, contact an attorney today to discuss your options.