I am a college student who was run off the road by a tractor trailer. I was badly hurt and had to miss a semester of college. It looks like I will have permanent injuries as a result of the wreck. What damages can I recover?
At the outset, let me remind you that no damages can be recovered unless you can prove that the truck driver negligently caused your injury. The case you describe can be difficult, particularly if there was no impact between your vehicle and the truck and if there are no witnesses to the event. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine the likelihood of success of your case.
Now, back to your question. In a personal injury cases arising from accidents with trucks, you can recover monetary damages for past and future medical bills incurred because of the injuries, past and future physical pain and suffering, past and future mental or emotional pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, disability, lost capacity for the enjoyment of life, and disfigurement.
A significant part of many personal injury claims in the recovery of the reasonable medical bills necessarily incurred as a result of the incident. To the extent that the injuries likely require on-going medical bills in the future, those future medical expenses can also be recovered.
Physical pain and suffering is physical discomfort caused by an injury. In the event you suffer an injury that will cause pain in the months and years after a settlement or trial, you can recover damages for that as well.
Mental or emotion pain and suffering includes anguish, distress, fear, humiliation, grief, shame, or worry.
Disfigurement is a permanent injury that impairs a person’s appearance. This includes permanent scars and lost limbs.
Lost capacity for the enjoyment of life compensates the injured person for limitations put on the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life as a result of an injury. This includes the inability to engage in activities you once enjoyed.
Disability is the loss of your ability to do the same physical things that you did before you were injured.
Loss of earning capacity is the loss of your ability to work and earn money. It may be an amount equal to your lost wages as a result of the injuries you received in the incident. If you have suffered permanent injuries that affect your ability to work and earn money, it includes those monies you are likely to lose in the future because of your injuries.
The reason loss of earning capacity may exceed lost wages is because sometimes it can be shown that a person is earning a particular wage only temporarily and will be progressing up the income ladder. For example, if a college student is injured and can never work again, it would be unfair to say that the student’s earning capacity is what he or she was making at a part-time job at McDonald’s. Instead, expert witnesses are employed to demonstrate the likely earnings of the student over his or her work-life expectancy if the injury had not occurred.
As indicated above, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine the value of your case.