Damages in truck accident cases include physical injury, emotional suffering, and financial losses suffered as a result of a truck accident. Damages can be either compensatory or punitive. Compensatory damages can further be broken down into actual and general damages. A discussion of each of these types of damages is discussed briefly below.
Compensatory damages are intended to make up for the injuries suffered as a result of a truck accident. These may include actual damages, such as the out-of-pocket expenses incurred, and general damages, which may include emotional distress or diminished ability to enjoy life activities. Actual damages include lost wages, medical bills paid, rental car costs incurred while your vehicle is undergoing repairs, property damage, and any other economic losses that may have resulted from the accident.
General damages are more difficult to quantify. These types of damages may include loss of enjoyment of life activities, loss of consortium, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering refers not only to the physical pain and suffering you have endured as a direct result of the accident, but also the emotional trauma of undergoing surgery or being unable to participate in life activities because of the injury.
The following table lists some of the different types of actual and general damages that may be claimed by a truck accident victim:
- Medical and hospital bills
- Lost wages
- Cost of household or nursing help required during recovery
- Cost of wheelchair, crutches, etc.
- Cost of rental car
- Property damage
- Future medical bills
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement or permanent injury
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Lost opportunity
Punitive damages are those that intend to punish the defendant for intentional conduct or gross negligence in causing a truck crash. These types of damages are reserved for conduct that is so egregious that the civil court penalty is warranted in order to deter the defendant from committing the same act in the future. Punitive damage may only be awarded if the judge or jury determines that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice in causing your injuries. This is a very strict burden that is difficult for most plaintiffs to meet. In addition, punitive damages awards may not exceed three times the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff, or $1.5 million, whichever is greater.