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What types of damages are compensable in a automobile accident case?

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The damages that you can collect for in a car wreck case in Virginia (VA) are set forth in the Virginia (VA) Model Jury Instructions, number nine. The Virginia (VA) Model Jury Instructions are a list of the law that the judge would read to the jury before they deliberate at the end of a personal injury case in a Virginia (VA) Circuit Court. North Carolina (NC) and other states have their own set of similar jury instructions for accident cases.

The Model Jury Instructions for Virginia (VA) list the following items as damages which a jury could consider awarding to a person who had been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence like in a car crash case. The list includes:

1. Bodily injuries sustained and their effect on the person’s health;

2. Physical pain and mental anguish in the past and any that may reasonably be expected in the future;

3. Disfigurement and associated embarrassment;

4. Inconvenience in the past and any likely in the future;

5. Medial expenses past and future; and

6. Earnings lost because the person was unable to work at their calling.

Really, if you are hurt in automobile accident, you are entitled to be reimbursed for all damages that resulted from the collision. As far as anything in the future, you have to show that it will be reasonably likely occur before the judge will allow a Virginia (VA) jury to give you an award based upon something that hasn’t yet happened. Typically, it requires expert testimony from a doctor, an economist and/or vocational or work specialist to prove future damages are likely to occur.

One reason that you want to have an attorney experience in injury law for any serious vehicular wreck case is that the lawyer is familiar with these elements of damages and knows how to prove them first to the insurance company and ultimately if necessary to the Virginia (VA) jury. In a case where the injury is a burn or other visible scar the personal injury lawyer from experience knows to get current pictures of the scarring and evidence from an appropriate plastic surgeon about what treatment options are available to deal with the scarring or disfigurement as well as the cost of the same. Anytime a permanent injury is involved in a car accident case, you need to have an attorney who is experienced with proving the likelihood of future continued problems from the collision. Whether as a one time settlement with an insurance company or a one time jury verdict in a Virginia (VA) court, you can never come back after the case is concluded about future medical bills or problems. You need to get whatever your case is worth at one time, because in order to reach a settlement with an insurance company they will demand release which means you can never come back to them or the at fault driver ever again about that particular accident. Likewise once the Virginia jury speaks with a specific verdict that verdict has to cover the person for any and all injuries past or future. There is no coming back to the court later for some further medical expense or difficulty, even one that develops after the jury verdict. Therefore getting all damages out on the table at one time to be fully and fairly compensated is key. One aspect of permanent injuries that the Virginia personal injury lawyer needs to be aware of is the statute detailing the life expectancy tables found at Virginia Code Section 8.01-419. These life expectancy tables set forth how much longer a person of a given age and sex is likely to live. This figure is then presented to the insurance adjuster or the jury to show how much longer the client is going to have to live with their permanent problem.

After working as a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years I have become competent at knowing what the elements of damages are and how to prove each of them. A lot of times I feel that I am able to come up with ways of documenting injuries and future medical bills that some other lawyers with less experience and perhaps less diligence may over look. Obviously I have every incentive to maximize the recovery for my clients because more money for them is going to make them happier and is going to make my law firm happier.

Authored By: James C. Lewis