how are damages calculated

How are Damages Calculated in Alabama Accident Cases?

When someone is injured in a car accident or another type of accident in Alabama, they may be entitled to compensation in the form of monetary damages. Calculating damages is a complicated process, however, and this process will vary with each case depending on the individual circumstances.

Were you Partially at Fault for the Accident?

Before discussing how are damages are calculated in Alabama accident case, we must first determine whether you are entitled to any damages or not. Alabama is one of the few states in the nation that applies the defendant-friendly “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under this standard, if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering any compensation at all.

Most other states apply some type of comparative negligence standard, which means that an injured party could still collect damages even if they were partially at fault. Their damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share, but they are still able to recover some compensation when they get hurt in an accident.

Contributory negligence is a much higher bar to clear, and this is one many of reasons it is vitally important for someone who is injured in an accident in Alabama to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible. Without strong legal guidance, it is very easy to make a critical mistake that the other side will seize upon in order to deny you the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Types of Damages Available from Alabama Accident Cases

Assuming you are able to prove that the other party is 100% at fault for the accident, there are several different types of damages that can be recovered. Compensatory damages can be divided into two general categories:

Economic Damages

These are actual monetary losses the injured party incurs, and they are fairly easy to quantify.  Damages in this category may include:

  • Medical Bills: Medical costs are among the largest expenses that an accident injury victim will incur. Through an injury claim, damages can be sought for expenses such as hospitalization costs, costs for surgeries and other types of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care (in the event of a long-term or permanent injury).
  • Lost Wages: When someone gets hurt in an accident, they often need to miss a good number of days from work while they are recovering. Lost wages for days missed from work should be fully compensated.
  • Loss of Future Earning Capacity: If an accident victim suffers a long-term or permanent injury, they may not be able to go back to work for a while (if they are able to return to work at all). When this is the case, you must calculate the value of wages you could have reasonably been expected to earn in the future.
  • Property Damage: In many accident cases, there is property damage in addition to physical injuries. For example, in the case of a car crash, there is most commonly damage to the vehicles involved. 

Non-Economic Damages

These are damages that, although they are real, they are more intangible and difficult to quantify. Non-economic losses may include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for the excruciating physical pain and suffering an injury victim has to endure after an accident.
  • Psychological Distress: In addition to physical pain, there is also a high amount of emotional pain; such as fear of an uncertain future, anxiety, sleepless nights, and similar problems.
  • Diminished Quality of Life: An injury victim may not be able to participate in the same activities they once enjoyed, such as running or playing a certain sport.
  • Loss of Consortium: When there is serious injury or death, someone who is close to the victim may be able to pursue damages for loss of consortium and in the case of a wrongful death, loss of companionship, guidance, and support.

In Alabama, non-economic damages are capped at $400,000 if the injury occurred because of medical malpractice.

Punitive Damages

In more limited cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the accident were willful or malicious, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the injured party, but rather to “punish” the wrongdoing that resulted in the injury and help discourage similarly egregious actions in the future. In Alabama, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages. However, there is also a hard cap of $1.5 million no matter how large the compensatory damage award is.

Injured in an Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C.

If you or someone close to you was injured in an accident in Alabama, it is important to act quickly to protect and preserve your right to recover damages. Call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. today at (251) 260-3815 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.  You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Mobile office in person at your convenience.

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