What Type of Compensation Can I Receive After a Car Accident?

When you get into a car accident, a million thoughts run through your mind:

– [Insert choice expletive]
– He better pay for this!
– Now my insurance will go up!

Depending on the severity of the accident, you may or may not have gotten hurt. However, you shouldn’t make that determination yourself. Immediately following the accident, adrenaline is likely to be rushing through your body, making aches and pains appear to be non-existent.

If the accident was in Tampa Bay, chances are that you just have to look up in any direction, and you’ll see several billboards advertising the many personal injury lawyers we have in this fine city. That will likely get you thinking: What type of compensation can I receive for this hellish experience?

Well, that will depend on the totality of the circumstances. But in the interest of giving you some baseline information for you to follow up on, below are several types of compensation available after a car accident.

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6 Types of Special Damages | What Are Special Damages in Personal Injury?

Special damages are those you can quantify with documents reflecting the amount you are claiming, such as medical bills, repairs to your car, and lost wages. These can be recovered in different ways:

1. Personal Injury Protection. This is known as PIP. In Florida, car insurance policies are required by law to provide 80% of medical bills in PIP to the following people:

– The named insured
– Relatives residing in the same household
– Persons operating the insured motor vehicle
– Passengers in the motor vehicle
– Other persons struck by the motor vehicle

To receive these benefits, the insured has to file a claim with his or her own insurance company and seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident.

PIP also covers 60% of gross lost wages, to be payable every two weeks.

This type of coverage has a cap of $10,000, and does not apply if the accident happened while the driver was trying to hurt himself or herself intentionally or while the driver was committing a felony. In all other cases, your insurance coverage will provide these benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

If your damages are more than $10,000 and the other party was at fault, you’ll have to file a lawsuit and a claim against the other driver’s insurance company.

2. Medical Payment Coverage: Since PIP only covers 80% of your medical bills, you would still have to find a way to pay the remaining 20%. While PIP coverage is mandatory in Florida, car insurance carriers may offer optional coverage for the uncovered portion. This is called Medical Payment Coverage (also known as Med-Pay).

Let’s say, for example, that your medical bills are $5,000. PIP would cover $4,000 of that amount. If you have Med-Pay, it would cover the additional $1,000. If you don’t have Med-Pay, you would have to pay the remaining balance out of pocket.

3. Damages to your car. If possible, take as many pictures as possible of all angles of your car. However, if no one was visually hurt at the scene, keep in mind that Florida law requires that you move the car out of oncoming traffic.

Also keep copies of all estimates and receipts from auto repair shops.

4. Medical bills. In theory, these should be fairly simple to prove. In practice, the other party’s attorney or insurance company will bring into question the severity of damages. Could a condition have been caused by something other than the accident? Has the person claiming to have medical issues been involved in previous car accidents? If so, could their current injuries be a result of those?

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You don’t want the other party’s attorney or their insurance company to claim that an event before or after the accident caused your injuries.

5. Lost wages. If injuries sustained in the accident are keeping you from working for a while, you can file a claim to recover wages for the time you have to be hospitalized or recovering at home.

6. Loss of earning capacity. This one will be based on your age, health, education level, past experience, and job you had at the time of the accident. You’d have to prove that the requested amount can be estimated as a reasonable certainty. So if you played basketball in high school 5 years ago and haven’t touched a ball since then, saying you could’ve gone on to play for the NBA is not going to fly.

General Damages Definition | Examples of General Damages?

General damages are those that you can’t quantify, but that you experience as a result of a serious car accident, such as:

1. Pain and suffering. Sometimes, even after receiving medical attention, a person will experience ongoing issues resulting from the car accident. This comes with all kinds of inconveniences and mental anguish, and the law recognizes a person’s right to receive compensation for these damages.

The amount to claim is harder to calculate, since it’s not as simple as providing documentation of medical bills or car repairs. However, the following factors will be considered:

– Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
– Permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability
– Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
– Death

2. Loss of consortium. This is often a fancy way of saying that now you can’t have sex with your spouse. It also includes usual activities related to the companionship associated with marriage: Cuddling, helping around the house, helping to take care of children, and doing activities together.

Punitive Damages Definition

These are the damages requested as a punishment to the person who’s at fault for the accident. And while you may want to punish whomever was at fault for your accident, it’s not as simple as saying that you’re angry at all the hassle the crash has caused you.

You would have to prove that the other party was either engaged in intentional misconduct or was grossly negligent.

Typically, the court will look at the following factors:

– Was the driver driving at a reckless speed?
– Was the driver racing?
– Was the driver drunk or under the influence of drugs?
– Was the driver committing a crime at the time of the accident?
– If someone dies and the driver is charged with manslaughter
– The driver was driving a company vehicle and it can be proven that the company failed to provide proper maintenance to the vehicle (e.g. testing or repairing brakes, headlights, tail lights).

Florida law places a cap on the amount of punitive damages a person may recover: Either three times the amount of compensatory damages (special and general damages) or $500,000.

Contact Clark Law St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. The longer you wait, the higher the chances that you may lose out on your ability to file for certain types of damages, or on your ability to obtain reliable evidence for your case.