What Damages Can I Recover from a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York?
When plaintiffs file lawsuits, they may be curious as to what the court can give them to make up for their injuries. Courts compensate plaintiffs by awarding damages – financial compensation that the defendant must pay for causing the plaintiff’s injuries.
In car accident lawsuits, you can recover damages based on your physical injuries, lingering pain, suffering, and mental distress, and the conduct of the defendant. Each lawsuit is different, so the damages that you recover will be unique to your lawsuit depending on the facts of your case.
If you need legal assistance, call The Carrion Law Firm’s New York car accident lawyers at (718) 841-0083 and get a free case review.
What Are “Damages” in a New York Car Accident Case?
When a plaintiff sues someone for personal injuries, like getting hurt in a car accident, in court, they ask the court to compel the defendant to award them damages. Damages are the law’s way of compensating plaintiffs for their injuries. The vast majority of the time, damages refer to financial compensation the defendant has to pay the plaintiff. However, damages can also include other things like a court order to stop doing certain actions. For example, if you got injured by a defective product, you may be able to request in your lawsuit that the court prevent the defendant from selling their dangerous product to prevent anyone else from getting hurt the way you did.
Types of Damages in New York Car Accident Lawsuits
When you ask for damages, they are broken down into three main categories. Although when the court awards you damages, you get the money as one award, these categories are helpful in explaining to the judge and jury why exactly they are awarding you damages, which is important for the success of your case. The main categories of damages are economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are based on things with ascertainable monetary values. These items have pay stubs, receipts, bills, invoices, or some other kind of paper trail that shows what they are worth. Examples of economic damages include hospital bills for treatment like surgery or intravenous medication as well as costs of long-term care like live-in aides or physical therapy.
Economic damages can also include lost income or reduced income. For example, if you missed work for many months while recovering from your injuries, you can be awarded damages based on the income you would have earned had you not been injured. Similarly, if your injuries are such that you need to switch jobs to one that pays worse, your economic damages can reflect the difference in pay between your old and new jobs. Finally, if you can no longer work because of your injuries, you can be awarded economic damages based on your projected income for the remainder of your career had you not been injured.
Non-economic damages are more nebulous than economic damages. They are awarded for things that will not have a bill, invoice, or receipt attached to them.
Pain and suffering is a common item that plaintiffs request non-economic damages for. For example, you can be awarded damages based on the pain of getting hit by a car, the pain you were in during your stay in the hospital and during recovery, and any lingering chronic pain you have to deal with because of your injuries. Unlike medical bills, there is no way to concretely quantify what the intensity of pain from injuries is worth, so you and our Brooklyn car accident lawyers will have to determine a fair value for your injuries to ask the court for.
Punitive damages are a special kind of damages that are somewhat distinct from economic and non-economic damages. Although you need to request punitive damages when you file your lawsuit, punitive damages are awarded by the court only when the defendant has acted especially badly.
Calculating Damages in a New York Car Accident Lawsuit
You need to tell the court how much you are asking for in damages when you file your lawsuit. Therefore, you and our Hempstead car accident lawyers need to decide how much you are asking for in damages and why before you file your case. Economic damages are generally fairly easy to calculate since they will have a paper trail. Accordingly, most of the work in calculating damages is for determining your non-economic damages and whether or not it makes sense to request punitive damages. Although there is no method to calculate damages that are set in stone, the two main ways to do so are the multiplier method and the “per diem” method.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method simply adds up your economic damages and then multiplies them by a given factor to determine your non-economic damages. For example, if you have $200,000 in economic damages, you can multiply that number by a factor of three to ask for $600,000 in non-economic damages for a total of $800,000 in damages.
The multiplier method is generally used for cases where the plaintiff is not expected to fully recover from their injuries, such as if they lost range of motion in their arms or will have chronic pain for the rest of their life. The reason for this is that while courts can be generous, it is impossible to predict future pain and suffering, so they have to award a finite amount of damages.
The Per Diem Method
By contrast, the “per diem” method calculates non-economic damages on a daily basis. Essentially, you and our lawyers come up with a value that your injuries and side effects are worth for each day you are going to deal with them, and then ask for that amount alongside economic damages. This method is usually employed for plaintiffs with injuries that will resolve themselves after a period of time.
Call Our New York Car Accident Lawyers
For help with your case, call The Carrion Law Firm’s Buffalo, NY Car Accident Lawyers at (718) 841-0083.