Potential Recoverable Damages In a Distracted Driving Accident
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Potential Recoverable Damages In a Distracted Driving Accident

April 1, 2024 Share

If you drive a vehicle there’s a good chance you’re guilty of committing distracted driving at some point in your life. 

Whether your mind wanders as you drive or you glance away from the road for a second, you’re guilty of being a distracted driver. There are countless things that can cause your attention to be anywhere except on your driving, and unfortunately, these distractions can result in accidents that can sometimes be catastrophic.

After being involved in a collision you may be wondering about compensation. So, what are the recoverable damages in a distracted driving accident? While every distracted driving accident is unique, the recoverable damages are often the same.

Image courtesy of Darwin Vegher

Damages You May Be Able to Recover After a Distracted Driving Accident

Washington State allows victims of distracted driving accidents to seek both economic and non-economic damages. Before you inquire about punitive damages, the answer is generally no. You typically can’t ask a judge or jury to award punitive damages in personal injury cases. This applies even if the defendant’s actions are malicious. 

Washington is one of the few states that doesn’t allow punitive damages unless expressly mentioned in the statute. This means you can only seek economic and non-economic damages if you’re injured in a distracted driving accident. 

Don’t worry, you can still receive compensation for your expenses relating to the accident. The law only prohibits you from punishing the at fault driver.

Types of Economic Damages

Economic damages are pretty easy to calculate, as these are things with tangible costs. You can add up your bills, receipts, and estimates and come up with a fairly precise dollar amount. Examples of economic damages include your medical expenses. 

Your medical expenses can also include long-term or lifetime care, and this can be added to your requested compensation amount. If your injuries are life-altering like paralysis, it may mean your home needs remodeling to accommodate your disability, and this is another economic damage that is typically covered in your personal injury claim.

Now, we’re on to property damage; you can claim any repairs or replacements. Property damage isn’t only limited to your vehicle, it can also include any personal belongings. If your laptop is in your vehicle and damaged in the accident, you can add it to your compensation claim.

Don’t forget about lost current and possibly future earnings. These are also economic damages. While you’re probably not going to receive your total lost earnings, you should be able to recover a significant portion.

Types of Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are a little harder to calculate compared to economic damages since non-economic damages are intangible. This means there isn’t a handy price tag to use as reference. You’re also not going to be able to supply items like bills and receipts. 

After all, how do you place a price tag on your mental anguish? Yes, this is an example of non-economic damage.

Other examples of non-economic damages can include pain, suffering, and loss of life enjoyment, and a loss of consortium is another non-economic damage. By now, you have a good idea of what may qualify as a non-economic damage. Your personal injury attorney can provide you with a more extensive list. However, simply because the damage is on a list doesn’t necessarily mean it applies to your case. 

Don’t forget, every distracted driving accident is unique. So, what applies in one case may not work in yours. This is just something to keep in mind as you create a list of your damages.

How to Calculate Non-Economic Damages

Okay, so you already know you can’t start adding up expenses when it comes to non-economic damages from a driving accident. So, how are you supposed to come up with an amount to submit to the insurance company? Closing your eyes and picking a random number isn’t the best option. So instead, you can either use the multiplier or per diem method. Both methods have advantages and a few downsides.

The multiplier method takes the total of your economic damages and multiplies this by a number usually between 1.5 and 5. You pick the number based on your degree of suffering with 5 indicating extensive emotional pain.

You’ll still need to pick a number, though this time consider your daily pay rate. If you’re making around $75 per shift, this is your per diem number. Now think about the number of days you’re feeling pain from the accident. Now, multiply the number of days by your daily rate. For example, if your daily number is $75 and you’re in pain for 500 days, your formula is 500 x 75, and the resulting answer is the total of your non-economic damages.

As you can see, calculating your damages from a distracted driving accident can be confusing. However, working with an experienced accident attorney can simplify the process and ensure you receive fair compensation.

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