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Understanding damages in a car accident case

If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit in Illinois based on your injuries in a car crash, you likely have many questions about how such a case works. One essential piece of information many people seek is how much their car accident case may be worth.

For every person, the specific answer depends on a variety of circumstances relating to their case. There is no reliable one-size-fits-all calculator that spits out a guaranteed result; consulting an attorney is the best way to get information about your own situation. However, understanding some key principles can give you general information about how Illinois damages work.

Damages are compensation for harm

Generally, the purpose of damages is to compensate the plaintiff for the harm suffered due to another's negligence. As such, figuring out damages means looking at harm you already sustained, as well as projected future damages.

Financial losses

Special compensatory damages address particular expenses you have already incurred and will incur in the future as a result of the accident. These include replacing or fixing damaged property and paying medical bills. Some other common financial losses may include lost earnings and the collateral costs of treating injuries: transportation expenses, mobility aids, paid help at home and more. Expert witnesses, such as doctors and actuaries, can help come up with specific projections for future expenses and provide solid evidence for their reasoning.

Other types of harm

General damages, commonly also called pain and suffering, provide financial compensation for non-financial harm. Accident victims often suffer from physical pain and emotional distress. They may experience difficulty socializing and maintaining relationships with loved ones. While it is not possible to submit a receipt for these losses, they have a very real effect, entitling the victim to compensation.

Punishing particularly bad conduct

Punitive damages are typically only available when the plaintiff can show the defendant acted recklessly or maliciously. Illinois law limits the amount for these damages to a maximum of three times the amount of the compensatory damages awarded in the case.

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