You are likely feeling overwhelmed and wondering how you will cover your expenses, if you
have been injured in a car wreck or other type of accident in Oklahoma City, Edmond, or
elsewhere in Oklahoma.
The laws in Oklahoma afford you the opportunity to hold the party that caused your accident
responsible for the damage caused. Your injuries and damages may include physical injuries,
medical bills, destroyed property, pain and suffering and more. Our Fierce Advocates fight to
hold the responsible party to cover your expenses and the damages they caused in your case,
both economic and non-economic damages. This page is dedicated to explaining the types of
damages you may be available to you after being injured in an accident.
Every car accident claim in Oklahoma is distinct and the damages you are eligible to receive
depend on a number of factors, including the medical expenses you suffered and whether or not
you were partially at fault for the accident. In some accident cases victims, will be eligible to seek and recover multiple types of damages; however, in other cases, an accident victim may not be eligible for the same type of damages. You should discuss this and other questions with your Oklahoma personal injury attorney.
An important note that one should recognize with economic damages is that there is no cap on
economic damages. This is because they are generally easily quantifiable, and the damages are
actual numbers. A court can calculate how much money is spent on medical costs and lost wages
and future wages. Therefore, an experienced Oklahoma personal injury attorney will recognize
all areas where the plaintiff had to pay costs as a result of an injury and will be able to include them in the demand for damages considered by the defendant and the court.
Seven Types of Economic Damages a Car Accident Victim can Recover
1. Medical Expenses
Medical expenses are one of the most prevalent damages in accident cases, which plaintiffs
should seek to recover in a personal injury suit. These damages cover any expenses that arise out of injuries which resulted from the accident. If a person is in a car accident, for example, and had to be treated for a concussion and broken arm, then all medical expenses related to treatment of both injuries, follow-up medical care, physical therapy and all other medical expenses should be recovered in a personal injury case.
However, it isn’t just immediate medical expenses that a plaintiff should recover. Even what
seems like a minor concussion may actually be minor brain damage that may increase in
symptoms and severity in the following days and month. Some victims of brain injuries, even
concussions, will need treatment or therapy many months or even years following an accident.
These future medical bills can far exceed the initial treatment in some cases and you are entitled to seek damages to cover these expenses as well.
It is important to keep records of all your medical expenses. Your Oklahoma personal injury
attorney will fight to ensure that your medical expenses are property documented and meet the
standard reasonable and medically necessary to support your claim. Reasonableness is broad and
geared towards avoiding excessive bills and treatment of less serious injuries. Similarly,
“medically necessary” expenses are to make sure that plaintiffs do not try to take advantage of
Reasonableness and medical necessity can be proven through testimony by the person who
experienced the injury or a physician. The injured party can prove the reason for the bills by
testifying about doctor visits and medical bills or receipts, the nature of the injury, whether that injury was caused by the accident, and the amount billed for those services. A physician can prove the nature of the injuries, the serves and treatment that were necessary for the injury, the reasonable charges for the treatment, the reasonable certainty that the services were necessary and the trauma of the injury.
Medical expenses are calculated based on how much money was spent to treat the injuries, and
how much will be necessary in the future to continue medical support, if necessary. Cases with
lasting damage will have long payments for future medical expenses, whereas minor surface
injuries will more likely result in a one-time payment.
It is important to remember that you are entitled to recover the full cost of your medical expenses following an accident. This is known as the “collateral source doctrine” and it entitles the plaintiff to their full damages, no matter the source of the money.
2. Lost Wages
Lost wages refer to the wages that a person would have earned but could not due to their
accident. These are the wages that a person loses from the date of the accident to the settlement. For example, a person is injured when a drunk driver hits them as they are walking on the street, and as a result the person is hospitalized for 34 workdays. To calculate the lost wages, the court would add up the days that the person was missing and multiply it by the hours and wages they would have made. So if the plaintiff lost 34 days of work due to the injury, and worked 10 hours a day for $20 an hour, they would be able to sue for $6,800 of lost wages.
This factor for economic damages is dependent upon the income and career of the victim of the
accident. Meaning, a surgeon making $250,000 per year would receive substantially more
damages for lost wages than a person that has an hourly position that provides them an annual
income of $30,000.
Additionally, if you are unable to continue working beyond the settlement of your claim, you are
entitled to future income that you will not receive. It is important to retain a Fierce Advocate to fight for your fair compensation in this aspect of damages in accident cases.
The following link has useful information on wage claims from the Oklahoma Department of
Labor: Wage Claim Form
3. Household Services
Household services include any costs to hire somebody to do things around the house while a
victim is recuperating. This is limited to services for which the victim would not have paid for, had they not been injured.
If the victim is a parent who takes care of the children and house, and suffers an accident and
cannot walk for two months, he or she may be required to hire a nanny for children. These are
household services that a person could get rewarded. However, if the nanny was already a part of
the schedule, the parent would not be able to pass those expenses on to the defendant.
4. Vocational Rehabilitation
The purpose for the Vocational Rehabilitation is to help eligible individuals with disabilities
prepare to get back to work. The primary vocational rehabilitation services are counseling and
guidance with job placement, but other services may also be provided as needed for an individual
to compensate for, correct or prevent disability-based barriers to employment.
This is common when a car accident leads to serious pain and suffering or trauma to a car
accident victim. If the victim was an athlete who played sports for their career, but the accident becomes disabled, then the defendant may be responsible for paying for the steps he or she needs in order to learn the skills to find a new career. These steps may include:
- Physical or mental restoration;
- Vocational, college or other training;
- Information on disability resources;
- Transportation in connection with Vocational Rehabilitation services being provided;
- Supported employment;
- Self-employment assistance;
- Transition school-to-work services for youth with disabilities; and
- Other services based on individual needs.
This is very important for people who are severely injured to the point that they cannot work in
their initial profession anymore and require assistance to get a new job. Another example is of a carpenter, who gets hit by a semi-truck and can no longer work with his hands or stand for long periods of time. As he is incapable of working as a carpenter, he must find a new job and these damages allow him to do so at the defendant’s expense. Although no amount of money can ever make losing your chosen profession whole, this is the economic side of damages to attempt to compensate for that harm.
The key to these damages is that the person must be able to go back to work. Someone who is in
incapable of returning to work may not be able to recover this type of damages; however, their
lost income damages and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering will be substantial.
5. Property Damages
Property damages are calculated to award the plaintiff money for the property that was destroyed
or harmed because of the accident. All 50 states, including Oklahoma require that drivers carry a certain amount of liability coverage for both property damages and personal injury damages.
While states set a minimum, having a higher limit of liability coverage may help you avoid
having to pay out of pocket after an at-fault accident. The higher you set your coverage limits,
the higher your insurance premiums will likely be. As you consider how high to set your limits,
you may want to discuss your options with a lawyer and insurance agent in your area.
Property damages can be severe, even for minor damage. A small fender bender which dents
another person’s bumper can still cost thousands of dollars, and many people who are hit in the
accident take advantage of the opportunity to replace any parts of the property that may have
been effected by the accident. In other words, costs rack up quickly and easily.
With an experienced personal injury advocate on your side, you should be able to recover the full extent of the property damage you suffered in your car accident case.
6. Out-of-Pocket Expenses
If insurance doesn’t cover certain parts of the accident, you could be responsible for paying for it. These out-of-pocket expenses can be added to what the defendant will have to pay the
plaintiff. Ensuring that you have identified all the available out of pocket expenses to minimize the financial strain of your car accident case or claim is important to reduce the negative impact of your car accident.
7. Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity can be recovered in accident cases when a plaintiff proves that his or her
ability to earn money has been impaired or diminished by the injuries. If there are two victims in a drunk driving accident, for example, and once was a dancer who broke both her feet and the
other was a surgeon who broke both of his hands, then the lost earning capacity damages would
be great, because she cannot dance and he cannot perform surgery. These damages grow even
more aggressive depending on the extenuating circumstances.
The plaintiff will usually have to present expert testimony in order to prove this to the jury by a preponderance of the evidence. In his or her testimony, the expert will consider the plaintiff’s:
- Age. How long does the victim have remaining in their career, chosen profession? A
young professional’s lost earning capacity is generally much larger than a person close to
- Health. Pre-existing conditions play a role in determining the damages in lost earning
capacity. When someone has a pre-existing condition that means they suffered from some
condition before the accident, which could reduce the impact of the injury suffered.
- Life Expectancy. Similar to the age analysis, if the victim in a car accident is young and
has most of their life left to live; however, they must suffer from the condition that
resulted from their accident, the damages in this respect will be greater.
- Talents. If the victim has an increased earning potential, then the damages should
increase as well. A plumber that just recently obtained his license will likely increase his
income and skills in the following years, which would result in an increased salary, but
for the damage caused by the accident.
- Past Earning Capacity. The amount of money that a person made in the past plays a
role in how much they would potentially make in the future. Earning capacity is partially
based on the income that a person made prior to the accident.
- Training. The cost of training and the amount of time it took to obtain the training for the
accident victim’s chosen profession play a role in determining the negative impact and
damages in an accident case.
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Personal Injury Advocates
Experience matters when you or a loved one have been injured in an accident in Oklahoma,
especially when you were severely injured in a motor vehicle accident or motorcycle accident. It
is important to know the Oklahoma personal injury lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause
and versed in all aspects of personal injury law and damages including non-economic and economic damages, in Oklahoma. Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy and will fight for your rights.
Cannon & Associates is here to support and guide you through all of your options, and is here to help you understand and seek damages to compensate your loss and injury in your accident
claim. We are dedicated to helping you resolve your dispute in the most advantageous manner
and are ready to help you get the relief you need. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a
Super Lawyer and our team knows what it takes to get you the outcome you deserve.