If you were injured in a Massachusetts car accident, you may be wondering what kind of compensation you would be able to get through a lawsuit.
Knowing how the general principles of compensation work for an accident due to negligence can help you understand what to expect in your case. A qualified attorney can help you further by assessing the facts of your case and advising you about the best way to proceed.
Compensation for harm suffered
In Massachusetts, most damages awards consist of actual damages. These damages aim to compensate you for the harm you suffered due to injuries from the accident.
The law recognizes two main types of harm: financial, and pain and suffering, which basically encompasses anything not directly related to financial loss. In many cases, you continue to suffer the repercussions of an accident long after the court case is over. Damages awards should take into account future harm; generally, expert testimony by appropriate professionals can give an accurate estimation.
Financial, or economic, damages compensate you for money you lose because of the accident. You may need to spend money on medical treatments, prescription medication, various therapies and home and vehicle modifications for accessibility. You may find yourself unable to work or having to cut your hours and lose out on raises and advancements.
Traumatic injuries from an accident can also cause a significant amount of physical harm. The injuries themselves cause pain, but some necessary treatments and therapies can also cause serious discomfort. You may have to take medication with unpleasant side effects or undergo multiple surgeries.
Psychological harm is another type of pain and suffering. Many accident victims experience fear and anxiety from the traumatic incident. The ensuing treatments and possible disabilities can cause emotional pain and humiliation. The aftermath of an accident can have a negative impact on important relationships. While non-economic damages can be harder to calculate, the harm they compensate for is just as important as monetary losses.
Punitive damages rarely available
Massachusetts only allows punitive damages in accident cases when the accident was the result of gross negligence and lead to someone's death. Gross negligence is a higher degree of misconduct than the regular negligence involved in most accident cases and typically means purposeful misconduct and/or reckless disregard for life.