Although some car accidents are minor, many collisions are life-changing events for all involved. In addition to car repairs, many accident victims will suffer painful bodily injuries which require immediate medical attention. They might also miss work, which can put additional strains on finances. puts a real strain on a motorist’s finances.
In both Illinois and Missouri, injured motorists can claim certain categories of car accident compensation damages. Both states generally divide damages into compensatory damages—meant to compensate a victim for their losses—and punitive or exemplary damages—designed to punish a defendant for especially bad behavior behind the wheel. Please contact Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC today to learn more about what car accident compensation you might be able to receive after a car wreck.
Car Accident Compensation Damages
There are several sub-categories of car accident compensation damages. Some of these losses are purely financial in nature—that is, you lost a certain amount of money as a direct result of the crash. Other compensatory damages are for less tangible losses, such as pain or changes in your marital relationship.
Some car accidents result in serious bodily injury and medical care that can lead to substantial bills. It is not unusual for someone involved in even a minor fender bender to incur tens of thousands of dollars in medical care. Someone involved in a serious crash could owe several times this amount.
Fortunately, we can seek compensation to cover any reasonable medical care you received to treat your injuries, including:
- Surgical and hospital costs
- Transportation costs, such as the cost of ambulance
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy bills
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Prosthetics (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.)
You can request car accident compensation even if you used health insurance to pay for your care. In fact, your insurer in most cases will expect reimbursement out of your settlement. Remember to hold on to your bills and receipts so we have a record of the total amount of medical care you received.
Future Medical Expenses
Some motorists can thankfully return to full health after rest and rehab. But others suffer from permanent impairments or disabilities. They will need ongoing medical care, such as:
- Future surgery
- Future rehabilitation
- At-home attendants or health aides
- Wheelchairs and other devices
Our legal team can request the defendant pay for this future care, so long as we can estimate the amount with a reasonable degree of certainty. For someone suffering from catastrophic injuries—such as paralysis or a severe brain injury—their future expenses could dwarf the cost of care they have already received.
Lost Income/Lost Wages
It’s difficult to return immediately to work following an accident. If you were injured and are in pain, then you will probably need to miss at least a few weeks of work. Helpfully, we can seek damages for lost income or lost wages—even if you were self-employed.
If you are a W-2 employee, show your attorney your most recent pay stub. If you were self-employed, we’ll need to perform a more intensive look at how much you typically make. Provide your attorney with balance sheets, cash flow statements, and any canceled contracts to help with this process.
Lost Future Income/Diminished Earning Capacity
Permanent injuries or disability can prevent a person from returning to work. For example, a surgeon who loses an arm can no longer operate on patients. Instead, he could take a desk job that pays much less.
Damages for lost future income go by many names—loss of earning capacity, diminished earning capacity, etc. But they all refer to the same thing: if you lose out on future income because of an injury, you should receive compensation to make up for it. As your attorney, we will look at many factors, such as your current income and education and the salary for any job you work post-accident. As with future medical care, we need to estimate these future losses with a high degree of certainty.
Car accidents typically cause damage to your car. We can seek damages to pay for repairs or, if your car was totaled, purchase a replacement.
To start this compensation process, go to a body shop and get a repair estimate. Remember that you can only get your car returned to the condition it was in just before your accident. If you were driving a 2010 Chevy with 200,000 miles, you can’t get compensated to buy a new 2022 Chevy.
Other damaged property could include an iPhone, your glasses, or anything you were transporting that was damaged. Your pets are also considered personal property. If they need vet care, then you should seek to have those bills paid.
Pain and Suffering
Accidents cost motorists more than just money. They also cause incredible pain and suffering. This type of suffering warrants car accident compensation. Unlike medical bills and lost income, however, a question always arises with pain and suffering: just how much will compensate you for your suffering? After all, with medical bills, we can easily add up how much you have spent for care. By contrast, calculating pain and suffering is more of an art than a science. Generally speaking, the more disabling or serious your injuries, the more compensation you might receive.
At Jerome Salmi Kopis, we have many years of experience in personal injury law. We know how much accident victims typically receive for pain and suffering, and will fight for our clients to make sure they get the car accident compensation they deserve.
Emotional Distress or Mental Anguish
Accidents also leave our clients with serious emotional distress. For example, you might relive the accident and suffer from flashbacks or anxiety. In other cases, physical pain and bodily limitations can exact an emotional toll. Someone who is bedridden when they used to be active could sink into depression or become consumed with irritability. Even minor injuries can cause severe emotional anguish under certain circumstances.
As with pain and suffering, the monetary value of your emotional distress is somewhat subjective. If your case goes to trial, a jury will decide whether you receive compensation and how much. As your attorney, we can include emotional distress/mental anguish damages as part of a settlement.
Loss of Consortium
Both Illinois and Missouri recognize loss of consortium claims. They typically compensate spouses for how an accident has impaired their marriage. They differ slightly in each state, but we’ll generally review them together.
Unlike other compensatory damages, a loss of consortium claim is brought by the spouse of the car accident victim. For example, if your husband is paralyzed in a crash while you as the wife were relatively uninjured. As his spouse, you can bring a loss of consortium claim for all the ways your marriage has been impaired, such as loss of intimacy or affection, loss of companionship, and so forth. You might also seek compensation for loss of household services, such as cooking and cleaning. In our experience, spouses only receive compensation when their husband or wife has suffered a catastrophic injury.
Exemplary or Punitive Damages
Unlike compensatory damages, which seek to compensate victims for losses, exemplary or punitive damages have a different focus: punishment. States allow accident victims to seek punitive damages to discourage the defendant from engaging in bad conduct again. They also discourage the general public from being terrible drivers.
Punitive or exemplary damages are only available for egregious conduct behind the wheel, such as:
- Illinois: A defendant might be forced to pay punitive damages for intentional, fraudulent, or willful and wanton conduct. Driving drunk would be an example, or intentionally hitting someone.
- Missouri: A defendant might be forced to pay exemplary damages when they intentionally injure someone or act with flagrant and deliberate disregard for a victim’s safety. In Missouri, a victim only gets to keep half of their punitive damages, and there must be clear and convincing evidence the defendant showed complete indifference or conscious disregard.
Consult an attorney at JSK to review whether punitive car accident compensation damages are available. Every case is different.
We Seek the Maximum Compensation for Our Clients
Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC is dedicated to helping car accident victims in Illinois and Missouri recieve compensation. The days following a wreck are often confusing. Let us help. We have provided steady legal guidance to accident victims for decades. Please call to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.