Distracted Driver Accidents

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What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Motor Vehicle Accident?


The time following a collision can be fraught with pain, uncertainty, and wondering if you will be able to recover financial compensation for what you may have lost. Depending on the circumstances of the collision, you may be entitled to recover damages. 

Damages can vary in type and amount depending on the type of crash, severity of injuries and if wanton or reckless behavior contributed to the collision. In certain states, you may encounter damage caps that limit the amount of recoverable damages. 

If you or a loved one was involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have legal options. To learn more about what you may be entitled to, continue reading. 

Options for Compensation

The circumstances of your accident will determine which avenues to pursue for compensation.

Driver’s Personal Insurance Company

If you or a loved one was in an accident and no injuries were sustained, you may decide to work with the insurance company. If the insurance company provides a settlement offer that covers the cost of the vehicle damage and any other inconvenience, such as rental cars or property damage, it may not be worth pursuing the case further.

If a car accident left you with serious injuries, such as a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, consider speaking with an attorney to explore your legal options. You may be entitled to much more than car repairs and property damage. “While your insurer has a legal obligation to pay out valid claims, it may try to pay as little as possible or nothing at all,” note bad faith insurance attorneys at Manchin Ferretti Injury Law. Working with an attorney can help calculate past and future medical costs, amounts for pain and suffering, and much more. 

Employer’s Business Insurance Company

By law, a company is responsible for the actions of their employees when they are acting within the scope of employment. If a truck driver was involved in a collision caused by his or her negligence, the trucking company would be held responsible for any damages under the concept of vicarious liability

Two Main Types of Recoverable Damages

In complex cases or cases where a serious personal injury was sustained, you may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, recoverable damages in a lawsuit will be classified as compensatory or punitive. 

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are intended to make you “whole” again or as close as possible. The payment is intended to compensate you for the losses and injuries caused by the crash.

Within compensatory damages are two forms of compensation:

Depending on your state, there may be a cap on monetary awards for non-economic compensatory damages. 

Punitive Damages

The second type of recoverable damages are punitive damages, which are intended to punish the offending party or parties. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, but are awarded in cases where behavior that caused or contributed to the collision is incredibly reckless or wanton. 

Similar to non-economic compensatory damages, some states have a damage cap on punitive damages.

Options After a Collision

Whether you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash, it is in your best interest to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney. Many attorneys offer free consultations and can help you explore your options for legal compensation, including compensatory and punitive damages. 

After a serious crash, you deserve to be able to rebuild your life by recovering damages. 


Samantha is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration. She is passionate about safety and health and often works in conjunction with injury experts to help inform the online community about life-changing safety tips.

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