When we watch the commercials on television, it can seem so simplified: “I got in a wreck and I got a big check!” Most of us know that it’s not that clear-cut, and if it were, we’d all be walking around loaded with car accident money. Statistics show that the average driver has one car accident every 17.9 years. If you’re an adult and a driver and you haven’t been in an accident with your car, truck, bicycle, or motorcycle, you’re basically in the minority.
So, the question remains; how do you know if you actually are owed money damages after you’ve been injured? Maybe you were in an accident in the past and never pursued any kind of legal action or just never met with an attorney. You might even have never been in a car accident or had an injury warranting litigation, but want to know more about exactly when you should pursue legal counsel.
A common misconception is that you simply are owed the amount of money it would take to repair or replace whatever vehicle (be it car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle) was damaged in the accident that caused the injury. Another misconception is that you’re only owed the cost of your medical care if you were injured. While injury victims generally should seek monetary compensation for their medical and repair bills, damages aren’t limited to that according to Louisiana law. In fact, the definition of “general damages” in Louisiana is much more broad than that.
“The primary objective of general damages is to restore the party in as near a fashion as possible to the state he was in at the time immediately preceding injury.” (Daigle v. U.S. Fidelity and Guar. Ins. Co., 94-0304 (La. App. 1 Cir. 5/5/95), 655 So. 2d 431, 437).
This means that the purpose of awarding a personal injury victim monetary damages in a lawsuit is to restore them to the condition they were right before they were injured. There are many ways that a person could be “set back” in an injury, and those setbacks are not limited to the hospital bills or the cost to replace the car.
Furthermore, “General damages involve mental or physical pain or suffering, inconvenience, loss of gratification or intellectual or physical enjoyment, or other losses of lifestyle that cannot be measured definitively in terms of money.” (Boudreaux v. Farmer, 604 So. 2d 641, 654 (La. App. 1 Cir.), 605 So. 2d 1373, 1374 (La. 1994)) If a victim is unable to participate in her beloved hobbies because of her injured condition, for example, that falls under “general damages”. If a victim has suffered a brain injury and he can no longer intellectually participate in his life as he used to, that counts as well. The hits that people take after a major injury are not limited to medical bills; the damages that they are awarded should not be restricted in that way, either.
At our law firm, we believe that the general rule-of-thumb in a car accident or an injury is that if you think you might need help, pick up the phone and call an attorney. It doesn’t hurt you to make that initial step, and in doing so it could help you so much more than you might think.
Are you wondering whether or not you have a valid personal injury claim? Speak to an experienced Louisiana attorney as soon as possible. For some accepted claims, consultations may even be free of initial charge.