We regularly represent individuals injured in truck, motorcycle and serious car accidents. Often, our clients are unaware of the nature and type of compensation available to those injured or killed in a collision as a result of another’s wrongdoing. As lawyers, we call this compensation, the measure of damages. Motor vehicle crash victims are typically entitled to collect two broad categories of damages, special damages and general damages and in this post, we will explain what those categories encompass.
Special damages are those damages fixed with reference to some actual monetary loss by the accident victim or, in the case of wrongful death, their family. Typically, the person injured by another in a truck, motorcycle or car accident can recover their medical bills or expenses, lost wages, and any incidental expenses of their medical treatment, such as taxi fare to and from treatments, over the counter medications, hotel stays for out of town treatment, etc.. It is important to note that in West Virginia, the injured party can recover the entire amount billed for medical care and not just the amount paid by his insurance carrier. See Kenney v. Liston 760 S.E.2d 434 (W. Va. 2014), available online at http://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/docs/spring2014/13-0427.pdf. Our clients are often surprised to learn that they can recover special damages for lost household services as well as lost wages. In other words, if you can no longer keep up with yardwork or housework as a result of the injury, you can recover the value of that lost labor, which is typically defined by the cost to hire someone to do the work for you. The injured party can recover both past and future special damages. Future special damages will be based on anticipated medical expenses, ability to work and ability to perform household chores. These numbers will be reduced to present value by an expert economist, to reflect the time value of money.
In addition to special damages, a person injured through another’s fault in a motorcycle, truck or car accident is entitled to general damages, which will compensate the injured victim for things such as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment, and disfigurement (for example as a result of a permanent scar). General damages may also be available to a victim’s family for loss of consortium or companionship. Loss of consortium is typically more specific to the victim’s spouse and arises when, as a result of the injuries sustained, the spouse is unable to provide companionship and engage in normal marital relations as they could prior to the injuries. Loss of companionship expands the concept to, for example, the young children whose parents are no longer able to play, tutor or emotionally support their children as a result of an injury. Unlike special damages, the measure of these damages is made by the jury without reference to any finite expense. Typically, the measure of general damages awarded will exceed the amount of special damages awarded.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle, truck or car crash and have questions about the compensation that they may be entitled to, please call our office today at (304) 451-3500 and ask to speak with Eddie or Dave.