Proving Your Damages After an Auto Accident
When you’ve been injured in a Georgia auto accident, you are likely facing a number of different economic and non-economic losses and damages. The economic damages are those that are actual financial expenses and losses, such as your medical expenses, your property damage, and your lost wages and future earning potential. The non-economic damages are those that are not actual financial expenses, but can be compensated financially. These include things like pain and suffering and psychological trauma.
The easiest to prove damages, when it comes to pursuing compensation, are the expenses associated with medical care and vehicle repairs. You can usually produce medical records, bills, statements, and vehicle repair estimates to establish the value of these expenses. Your medical records may also be useful in indicating what your future medical expenses are expected to be.
You can also easily prove the value of your lost wages from time off of work by providing evidence of your usual wages, (in the form of check stubs or a letter from your employer, for example) along with evidence of the days that you were unable to work because of your injuries. The challenges typically arise when it comes to proving the value of your lost future earning potential and the value of your pain and suffering.
Lost Wages and Lost Future Earning Potential and Work Opportunities
After an auto accident causes injuries and leads to time off of work, you’ll need to prove that you did have to take time off of work and the value of the wages lost. This is where you must produce such evidence as your recent check stubs, your recent tax returns, or a letter from your employer. You will also need evidence that your injuries did require that you take time off work, such as restrictions from your doctor, and evidence of the days that you missed, such as a letter from your employer, for example. Such evidence will come in the form of actual documents that can be easily viewed, read, and interpreted to establish the associated damages.
In situations where the victim of an auto accident is an independent contractor or business owner, it may be necessary to work with past tax returns and evidence of recent payments, lost clients or customers, and other forms of proof to indicate what your income was and what income was lost. The attorneys at Council & Associates can help with this.
Things become more difficult, however, when you have to prove the loss and value of your future lost wages and future earning potential or work opportunities. To begin with, you have to prove that you are suffering from a long term disability, resulting from the auto accident. This can be accomplished with your medical records and restrictions, along with expert witnesses who can verify that your injuries do hinder your ability to return to work.
Your actual job skills and past work history will come in to play here, as well. Although your injuries may prevent you from returning to your place of employment or most recent field of work, you may have past experience and skills that you can still use. For instance, if you were a construction worker, you might not be able to ever return to this field, because of your injuries. Yet, if you used to be a cashier, you still have this job skill, and your injuries may not prevent you from returning to work in this capacity. Of course, there is a substantial pay difference between construction work and cashiering, and this can be relevant to the value of your claim.
The Value of Pain and Suffering and Emotional Trauma After an Auto Accident
Because pain and suffering and emotional trauma are non-economic losses, it can be difficult to figure out the exact economic value associated with these issues. There is a common myth that the values of such non-economic damages are calculated based on some kind of a formula, such as three times the amount of economic damages. The reality is much more complicated.
It begins with the evidence found in your medical records and other physical evidence of the injuries. If you have photos of your injuries, then this can help. For instance, a severe burn injury looks awful, and it is easy to imagine that the victim is in substantial pain from that injury just by looking at the picture. It is a good idea to take photos of the injury when it first occurs and throughout the healing and recovery process. This can show the extent of the damage and pain that was endured by the victim as well as how long you had to experience that suffering.
It is also helpful to have a written journal that details your experiences during your recovery and even personal witnesses who experienced firsthand what you went through and how your life was affected by your injuries. Expert witnesses, including the doctors who treated your injuries, the rehabilitation staff who helped you through your recovery, and any therapists or psychiatrists who helped you to cope with the emotional trauma will also be useful.
Yet, it can still be difficult to calculate the value of such a subjective experience as pain and suffering. In many cases, it will involve looking at past cases that are similar to yours and seeing what amount of compensation others received for the pain and suffering associated with similar injuries. If you are dealing with a burn injury, for example, you’d want to look at cases of other auto accident victims who endured similar burns to a similar extent and degree.
In other words, you would not compare a burn injury to a broken bone. You also would not compare a third degree burn to a first degree burn or a burn of 15% of the body to a case where the burn was just 5% of the body. If you have third degree burns on 15% of your body, you’ll want to look at other cases where victims endured third degree burns to a similar portion of their body. If possible, you’d want to actually look at cases involving burns to the same parts of the body. Burn injuries to the face would not be comparable to burn injuries to legs.
It is a good idea to seek psychological treatment when you dealing with the pain and suffering associated with an injury, especially if there is psychological trauma. If you do this, then you can benefit from the professional assessment of the person who provided this treatment in proving the extent of your suffering and trauma from your injuries.
Contact Council & Associates to Discuss the Value of Your Claim
When it comes to proving the value of your lost wages, future earning potential, pain and suffering, and psychological trauma, you need all the help you can get. To find out what your claim might be worth and to pursue fair compensation for the damages sustained in an auto accident, contact the experienced car crash attorneys in Atlanta, GA at Council & Associates for a free consultation.