Accidents can lead to physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardships. In many cases, Virginia law allows accident victims to pursue legal action for financial compensation for their losses. The amount of compensation awarded depends on various factors, and understanding these factors is crucial for both victims and their Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer.
Liability and Fault
The first and foremost factor in determining accident compensation payouts is liability and fault. Establishing who is at fault for the accident is essential. In personal injury cases, it is crucial to demonstrate that the other party was negligent or acted recklessly, leading to the accident. In most states, the legal principle of comparative negligence is often applied, meaning that the compensation may be reduced if the victim shares some degree of fault.
However, Virginia follows the contributory negligence doctrine. Under this doctrine, the injured party must be totally without fault in order to recover damages.
Severity of Injuries
The extent and severity of the injuries sustained in an accident are significant factors in determining compensation payouts. More severe injuries that result in extensive medical treatment, longer recovery periods, and permanent disabilities often lead to higher compensation amounts. These injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Multiple fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Severe burns
The medical records and expert testimony play a crucial role in assessing the severity of injuries and their impact on the victim’s life, earning capacity, and future medical needs.
Medical Expenses and Future Costs
The medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident are a fundamental component of the compensation calculation. This includes not only the immediate medical costs, such as hospitalization, surgery, medication, and rehabilitation but also future medical expenses. Future medical costs may involve ongoing therapy, specialized equipment, prescription medications, and any anticipated surgeries or procedures.
In addition to medical expenses, compensation may cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, which are subjective and challenging to quantify. The more severe the injuries and their impact on the victim’s life, the higher the compensation awarded for these non-economic damages.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Accidents can disrupt a victim’s ability to work and earn a living. Compensation may include recovery of lost wages, which encompasses the income the victim would have earned had they not been injured in the accident. Lost wages can include not only the days or weeks immediately following the accident but also long-term or permanent reductions in earning capacity due to disabilities or impairments resulting from the accident.
Calculating lost earning capacity can be complex, as it requires assessing the victim’s education, skills, work history, and the impact of their injuries on their ability to perform their job or pursue their career.
Insurance Coverage and Policy Limits
The availability and limits of insurance coverage also play a significant role in determining compensation payouts. In many cases, compensation is obtained through the at-fault party’s insurance policy. However, if the at-fault party is underinsured or uninsured, or if their policy limits are insufficient to cover the victim’s losses, the victim may need to rely on their own insurance policies, such as underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Understanding the various insurance policies involved, their limits, and the potential for multiple layers of coverage is essential in pursuing adequate compensation.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you have been injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to speak with one of our dedicated Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys. With more than three decades of legal experience behind us, our legal team will diligently work to get you the financial compensation you deserve, like the $442,000 jury verdict we obtained for one client who suffered serious injuries when her leg suddenly fell five feet into a small sink hole while playing golf at a Williamsburg, VA country club.
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An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.