How Do Juries Calculate Damages In Car Accident Cases?
When two parties are unable to reach a settlement agreement with their insurers following a crash, they often decide to go through the litigation process to resolve the issues of liability and damages. This leaves the problem of determining fault and calculating damages up to a jury, who will be required to take certain factors into account when making these decisions. Although it is generally considered riskier to go to court than to settle a claim, as there is always a chance that the court will rule against the plaintiff, there is also a better chance of receiving a higher damages award. For help coming up with your own legal strategy, or strengthening your case, reach out to our dedicated team of Tulsa car accident lawyers today.
What are Damages?
Litigating a car accident case requires the resolution of two major issues: liability and damages. The former involves apportioning fault for an accident between the parties, while the latter requires a careful analysis of the victim’s losses. Personal injury damages is the amount of money that will reasonably and fairly compensate a victim for the injuries that he or she sustained because of someone else’s negligence and are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are made up of the specific monetary losses that a person suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle damage. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to calculate, as they are comprised of losses, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Juries who decide in favor of a plaintiff are required to come up with the amount of damages that that person is owed. When calculating this amount, they are required to assess specific factors, including:
- The amount of physical pain and suffering, both past and future, that the victim experienced;
- The degree of the plaintiff’s mental pain and suffering;
- The plaintiff’s age;
- The victim’s physical health immediately before and after the accident;
- The nature of the plaintiff’s injuries;
- Whether the victim’s injuries are permanent;
- The degree of physical impairment that the plaintiff will experience;
- Whether the plaintiff experienced any disfigurement;
- The plaintiff’s accident-related loss of earnings;
- Whether the plaintiff’s earning capacity has been affected; and
- The reasonable cost of past and future medical care, treatment, and services.
Because no two accidents are exactly the same, it can be difficult to estimate what a victim’s potential damages award could be without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
How Fault Could Affect Your Award
The other aspect of civil cases is determining fault for the accident. Because Oklahoma is a comparative negligence state, an injured party’s contribution to an accident won’t necessarily bar him or her from recovery. It will, however, reduce his or her award by an amount equal to the degree of fault in causing the accident. It is only when a plaintiff’s own level of fault exceeds a defendant’s that he or she will be barred from recovering damages. How fall is apportioned between two parties will play a significant role in determining damages.
Helping Our Clients Seek the Compensation They Deserve
For help with your own car accident case, please reach out to the dedicated Tulsa car accident lawyers at Levinson Law, P.C. by calling 918-492-4433 today.