If you were recently in a car accident, it is natural to desire compensation for any damages you suffered. If insurance does not cover everything, then the course of action designed to allow someone to recover losses is a lawsuit. You may be wondering what determines how much you can receive. This simple guide will answer this question.

How Much You Can Recover

First things first, make sure you are thinking about this lawsuit in the right way. You should not be seeking an opportunity to get rich, or even to get more than you originally had. The purpose of a car accident or personal injury lawsuit is to return the victim to the financial state he or she was in prior to the car accident. The court will be trying to determine exactly how much you lost, and compensate you for that exact amount and no more or less. So the answer to the question, “How much can I receive from my lawsuit?” is “Exactly how much you lost.”

Types of Damages

That being said, there are three different types of damages that a court may order the defendant to pay for. These are:

  • Special compensatory damages
  • General compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Special compensatory damages are the simplest to understand. These damages refer to everything that has a set financial value. So if your medical bills came to $1,000, then you suffered $1,000 in special compensatory damages. These damages can include destruction of property, medical bills, lost wages, and every other financial cost you suffered as a direct result of the accident.

General compensatory damages cover everything that does not have an objective value. So, for example, if you lost the ability to walk from an accident, the court would have to determine how much the loss of ability is worth. This makes it a general compensatory damage. The most common type of damage in this category is “pain and suffering.”

The third kind of damages are very rare for car accident or personal injury lawsuits. Punitive damages are assigned strictly to punish the defendant and not to reward the plaintiff. This usually only happens if the defendant was acting maliciously or especially irresponsibly. For example, if someone was driving drunk, they may be assigned punitive damages as punishment.

Now that you know the kinds of things that you can be compensated for, you can get a better idea of how much you should expect to receive from the suit.