When you are hurt in a Utah car accident, and it is not your fault, there are several types of damages that your personal injury car accident attorney should explore.
(1) Past Medical Bills. Each and every medical bill that is incurred in a Utah car accident should be counted towards your damages. You should not have to pay your own medical bills when someone else is the reason you are hurt. The only legal qualifier is that the medical bill must be a reasonable medical bill and the medical treatment is necessarily related to the car accident. Sometimes excessive medical treatment will not count because the insurance carrier will argue that the medical care was not medically necessary and the injured party should have pursued other, more medically appropriate treatment.
(2) Future Medical Bills. Future medical expenses are a huge part of any personal injury case. Your personal injury attorney needs to solidify these future medical bills with medical experts.
Your personal injury attorney needs to consult with appropriate medical experts to place a dollar amount on your future medical expenses. Future medical expenses could be medications costs, surgery costs, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and medical implant replacements to name a few. Other future medical costs could be modifications to your home and car to accommodate your disabilities.
The key here is that your attorney needs to have the experience handling car accident claims and how to capture these future medical needs with appropriate evidence. Often your attorney will need to hire a life care planner to project out future medical needs. A life care planner is a professional who is experienced in managing medical care for injured people over the course of their lives and what would costs to do so.
(3) Past Lost Wages. When you are hurt, you often can’t work. Every hour you miss work, you need to capture these lost wages and make a claim for reimbursement. Even when you return to work, your Utah car accident attorney should capture lost time from work to attend medical appointments. It all counts towards your damages.
(4) Future Impaired Capacity to Work. At the time of the car collision, you were making $80,000 as a construction worker. Now your back can’t handle that type of work anymore, nor are you suited for other work that earns that much. A good personal injury attorney will attempt to capture that lost income stream and project it over the injured person’s life. A vocational rehabilitationist, and economists generally are hired to explain to the jury how your ability to earn money has been effected by the car accident.
(5) Mileage. Every time you go to the chiropractor or physical therapist, you should log your mileage for reimbursement later. Generally, mileage is paid at the IRS rate.
(6) General Damages. Juries, judges and arbiters are asked to grant general damages to injured people. General damages make up for what was taken and provide compensation to injured individuals. General damages are often the most important compensating factor in personal injury cases because these types of damages fix, help and make up for what was taken and can never be replaced.
Utah has a jury instruction on General Damages. A jury instruction is like an instructional letter from the judge in a personal injury case telling the jury how to determine the amount of general damages to give. Utah’s general damages jury instruction is found here and reads:
Noneconomic damages are the amount of money that will fairly and adequately compensate [name of plaintiff] for losses other than economic losses.
Noneconomic damages are not capable of being exactly measured, and there is no fixed rule, standard or formula for them. Noneconomic damage must still be awarded even though they may be difficult to compute. It is your duty to make this determination with calm and reasonable judgment. The law does not require the testimony of any witness to establish the amount of noneconomic damages.
In awarding noneconomic damages, among the things that you may consider are:
(1) the nature and extent of injuries;
(2) the pain and suffering, both mental and physical;
(3) the extent to which [name of plaintiff] has been prevented from pursuing [his] ordinary affairs;
(4) the degree and character of any disfigurement;
(5) the extent to which [name of plaintiff] has been limited in the enjoyment of life; and
(6) whether the consequences of these injuries are likely to continue and for how long.
While you may not award damages based upon speculation, the law requires only that the evidence provide a reasonable basis for assessing the damages but does not require a mathematical certainty.
I will now instruct you on particular items of economic and noneconomic damages presented in this case.
(7). Other. This is not an exclusive list of damages, but is a list of the more common damages claimed in personal injury cases.
Attorney Jacob S. Gunter’s practice focuses mainly on car accidents in Provo, Utah and state wide. For a free consultation, call (801) 373-6345.