This year the
American Automobile Association (“AAA”) issued a report on the high costs of the traffic and congestion we have
here in the United States. We tend to think of traffic in terms of how
much longer it will take us to get where we are going, and how much more
we will have to pay for gasoline while we are sitting, and certainly that
is a high cost of traffic here in the Atlanta metro region. According
to the report, however, the still higher cost of traffic is the
car accidents that happen because the roads are clogged with vehicles.
In the report,
AAA report 2011.pdf, AAA listed the various costs that result from a traffic accident. Some
of the costs are the type that can be recovered in a
car accident lawsuit. Since I am a
car accident lawyer, I am discussing those types of costs first. Yet other of the costs hit
society more broadly.
So far I have discussed property damage (the damage to the cars and sometimes
to the roadway structures from the car accident), lost earnings (the amount
of money lost because the person who was injured in the car crash could
not work), lost household production (the chores that the family had to
pay someone else to do while the injured person was recovering from the
effects of the car wreck), and what probably amounts to the single greatest
dollar cost – the medical bills and expenses for the person who
was injured in the car accident.
Today I want to discuss two additional types of damages that AAA describes
and that are recoverable in a
car wreck lawsuit.
* Pain and lost quality of life. In legal terms, a
car accident lawyer refers to this type of damage from a car accident as “pain and suffering.”
These types of damages are hard to quantify, but they are very real. For
example, if a person’s leg is so badly injured in a car wreck that
it has to be amputated, the cost of the surgery will be significant. But
the cost of the surgery will pale in comparison to the shock and despair
that the person will feel when he wakes up and realizes that his leg is gone.
I have represented a number of burn victims. These clients were burned
when their fuel tanks leaked as the result of a car accident. The cars
and trucks these clients were in caught fire and exploded. Several of
these clients were burned over 70% of their bodies. The excruciating pain
of these clients truly could never be described. Some of these clients
died, but the pain they underwent before they died was included as part
of the damages in the wrongful death lawsuit that I brought on their behalf.
* Vocational rehabilitation. After a car accident, many people recover and are able to go back to the
employment they had before the car wreck. Depending on the injury and
the person, however, some people who are receive
serious personal injuries in a car accident may not be able to return to the jobs they held before the wreck. For
example, a surgeon who has a
brain injury may lack the steady hands he had before the car accident. A construction
worker who suffers a severe
spinal cord injury probably cannot return to construction work of any type.
In each of these cases, the person needs vocational rehabilitation to be
able to find employment that he will be able to do. Sometimes the person
will need who was injured in the car accident can return to the same kind
of employment he had earlier, but he will need some rehabilitation and
help figuring out how he can do the old job with his new limitations.