Understanding Types of Compensation You Can Receive After a Car Wreck in Texas
If you want to know how much your own car accident claim is worth, you should take advantage of our FREE 5-Point case evaluation, and read our article “How Much is My Accident Case Worth.
If you’re just wondering what the different types of compensation are in Texas after a car accident, this article will cover that.
Assuming that the accident was not your fault, and that you’re filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, the following are the types of compensation available in for an accident that occurred in Texas (discussed more thoroughly below):
- Property Damage
- Past Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Expenses
- Pain & Suffering
- Mental Anguish (difficult to get in Texas)
- Disfigurement & Impairment
- Lost wages – Both past and future
- Lost Earning Capacity – Both past and future
- Loss of Consortium & Household services
Property Damage Compensation
After a car wreck, your call will have damage, and you’ll need to get it repaired. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company should pay for these repairs, as well as the cost of putting you in a rental car (see our article about who pays for rental cars here).
One thing to consider is getting your car repaired at a collision center that offers a lifetime warranty on repairs. In many cases, the other driver’s insurance company will have preferred shops that offer a lifetime warranty on the work they do. Always ask around, and find a shop that warranties their work, and get the warranty in writing.
Past Medical Expenses
Past medical expenses are what most injured people refer to as simply “medical expenses.” Technically, it’s the cost of the medical car you’ve received already at the time you settle your claim. Past medical is calculated by looking at the amount was paid by you or your insurance company, and the amounts that you still owe. Note that if your health insurance paid any of your medical expenses, it is entitled to be reimbursement for what they paid. If this is the case, you may want to consult with an attorney to help negotiate this, or you could end up owing your health insurance company money.
WARNING: You should not settle your claim if you are uncertain whether or not you will need medical care in the future as a result of the accident. If you think you might need future care, you are almost always better off getting an attorney because insurance companies will not want to pay future medical – an attorney can level the playing field, and insure that your future interests are taken into consideration in whatever settlement you reach.
Future Medical Expenses
Future medical expenses are simply an estimate of medical expenses you’ll need in the future. Insurance companies hate paying future medical because the expenses are estimated, and are not certain. They will rarely pay a person future medical expenses unless that person is represented by an attorney. An experienced injury attorney knows what evidence is required, and how to present a claim for future medical expenses in a way that they can be considered in a settlement agreement. Keep in mind, once you settle your case you don’t get to come back later and get more money. That is why you MUST include a claim for future medical before you settle your case.
Pain & Suffering
Pain & suffering damages are very subjective and difficult to measure, which is why insurance companies hate paying them. However, if the nature of your injury caused you more than a minimal amount of pain, and you suffered from such pain, you are technically entitled to compensation under Texas law. The level of compensation depends on the amount of pain that would be expected for the type of injuries you sustained. The greater the injuries, the more willing the insurance company will be to consider pain & suffering damages in their settlement. Pain and suffering, like medical expenses, is measured for both past pain & suffering, as well as pain and suffering that a person will likely endure in the future (if any).
While mental anguish damages are technically available in Texas, they are difficult to be under current Texas law. Getting a jury to award mental anguish damages in Texas is also difficult, which is why insurance adjusters don’t usually offer anything to compensate injured persons for mental anguish. Generally, the anguish you suffer needs to be so intense that it is more than mere disappointment, embarrassment, or anger, or difficulty. Things like grief, public humiliation, deep despair, intense shame, or indignation are closer to what the courts and juries would look for to consider mental anguish damages. These damages are also measured for both past and into the future.
Disfigurement & Impairment
If your injuries were severe enough to cause scarring, loss of limb, etc., then you would likely have a valid claim for disfigurement damages. The amount of damages would depend upon how bad the scarring and disfigurement is. The more noticeable a scar, and the more likely it is that others see it, the greater the damages. For example, a young lady with a scar on her face will likely be entitled to greater damages than a older man with a small scan on the small of his back.
Impairment damages considers whether or not there are things you can no longer do, or whether you have limitations because of the accident that you didn’t have before the accident. For example, if you had to have knee surgery, and can no longer jog or run (and you could before), you have been impaired by your injuries, and are likely entitled to compensation.
Another cost commonly associated with accidents is the wages a person loses when they have to miss work. If you missed work because of the accident, you have the right to be compensated. You’ll need evidence, such as employment records, to prove your claim. This can be difficult for people who are self-employed, but a good attorney can help you in this regard.
Lost wages can also be measured in terms of future lost wages. For example, if you were a truck driver making $80,000 per year, but can no longer drive a truck because of your injuries, and you only qualify for a $50,000 per year job, you have likely lost $30,000 per year for every year you live into the future. Future lost wages can be difficult to calculate, and require specific evidence. An experienced injury attorney can help you with this.
Lost Earning Capacity
Loss of earning capacity is similar to lost wages in the future, but measures your capacity to earn in the future. If your injuries make it so you’ll not be able to be promoted because you can no longer do the things you once could.
Loss of Consortium and Household Services
If an injury causes you to be unable to be intimate with your spouse, you may be able to recover (and your spouse may as well) for loss of consortium. Additionally, if you have to pay someone to do things around the house (such as mow the lawn) because your injuries prevent you from doing these things, you may also have a claim to loss of household services.