The Types Of Damages You Can Claim After A Car Accident

Experiencing a car accident can be distressing, resulting in both physical injuries and substantial financial losses. In such situations, it’s crucial to understand your right to compensation. 

Consulting an accident attorney can provide insights into the economic and non-economic damages you can claim. These legal professionals play a vital role in establishing the other driver’s negligence and calculating your financial losses. They have experience representing victims of collisions and often secure better reimbursement than initial settlement offers from insurance companies.

As you search for an attorney, it can be helpful to look into car accident settlement stories for additional information and to help set realistic expectations for your case. The following sections detail the types of damages you may be eligible to claim after a collision.

1. Medical Expenses 

Car accidents can lead to severe injuries, often requiring hospital stays and significant medical costs. These expenses can include various treatments, from routine diagnostic tests and vital scans, such as MRIs, to surgeries and X-rays. You might also have to cover the costs of prescription medications, ambulance fees, physical therapy, and home care.

Sometimes, the recovery process may require the use of medical devices like crutches or wheelchairs. The total costs of these treatments and assistive devices can be considerable, adding to the stress of recovery.

To offset these expenses, it’s important to include them in your compensation claim. This includes the projected costs of long-term medical treatment if recommended by your doctor.

Therefore, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly after an accident, even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not show immediate symptoms but could have long-term effects, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive medical check-up.

2. Vehicle Damage 

Car accidents often result in notable damage to vehicles, leading to costly repairs or even the necessity of replacement. Your claim can cover the expenses for mending or replacing your car and any personal items lost during the accident. Specialists will assess the vehicle’s actual worth or the cost of necessary repairs and also evaluate any damaged or missing items inside the vehicle.

When making property damage claims, the pre-accident value of the property and any depreciation from the accident are generally considered. Collect sufficient evidence to support your claim. This could include traffic camera recordings, photos of the damaged car, witness testimonials, and damage estimates.

3. Lost Wages And Earning Capacity

Accidents can lead to injuries that require extended periods away from work, resulting in substantial wage loss. The accident may also disrupt potential advancements at work, including promotions, bonuses, or other benefits. Pay stubs or paychecks can support this claim.

If a permanent disability prevents you from earning income, you can seek compensation for loss of earning capacity. Your attorney will project the income you could have made if the accident hadn’t occurred, factoring in aspects such as your age, occupation, level of education, skills, and the job market.

4. Pain And Suffering

Victims of car accidents often face numerous difficulties, not only physical but also emotional and psychological. These are collectively termed ‘pain and suffering’ and account for the less tangible yet significant impacts of the accident on your life.

This category of damages extends beyond physical discomfort, addressing several issues that can include persistent anxiety, mood disorders, and diminished enjoyment in life’s activities. The manifestations of pain and suffering vary widely among individuals and depend on the unique circumstances of each accident.

5. Loss Of Consortium

In the wake of a car accident, relationships can also experience significant disruptions. ‘Loss of consortium’ refers to this specific type of damage, recognizing the negative shift in a spousal relationship, parent-child, or sibling dynamics.

For instance, you might be unable to participate in everyday activities with your children, such as playing catch in the yard or helping with homework. Similarly, your severe injuries may inhibit your ability to provide emotional support to your spouse or maintain the level of intimacy that was present before the accident. These are the profound personal disruptions that the loss of consortium seeks to redress.

6. Wrongful Death

The aftermath of car accidents can sometimes bring the most devastating of outcomes—fatalities. In cases where a car accident results in the death of a loved one, particularly if that person was a primary provider, you might have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death claims extend beyond the loss of income. They consider the invaluable loss of companionship and the emotional toll it takes. They can also seek to recover the costs of medical treatments prior to the decedent’s death, as well as funeral and burial expenses. 

To solidify your claim, various forms of evidence, such as medical records, invoices, and pictures of the accident scene, can be utilized.

7. Punitive Damages 

On rare occasions, a car accident might be a result of an intentional act or exceptional recklessness on the part of the driver at fault. In such situations, the court may award punitive damages. Their primary objective is not to compensate the victim but to serve as a deterrent, discouraging the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

However, it’s important to note that punitive damages are not commonly awarded. They’re typically reserved for cases where the defendant’s conduct demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety of others.


Car accidents often inflict a heavy toll, both physically and financially. In the chaos that follows a car accident, knowing what damages you can claim can offer some comfort. These damages range from tangible economic damages—like medical expenses and lost wages—to non-economic ones—such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

In the most severe cases, claims can extend to wrongful death and punitive damages. Each situation is unique, with varying factors influencing the types and amount of damages that can be claimed.

While monetary compensation may not completely alleviate the stress or undo the harm suffered, it aims to place victims in the position they would have been in had the accident not occurred. Actively pursuing the compensation you’re entitled to and advocating for your legal rights is an important step in the recovery process following a car accident.

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.


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