What Kind of Damages Can You Pursue After a Car Accident?

What Kind of Damages Can You Pursue After a Car Accident? A car accident can change a person’s life numerous ways. Physical injuries, mental anguish, and lost jobs often follow a car crash. When you are not at fault for the car accident, you can seek what are referred to as damages in a lawsuit. Generally, when you have been injured in a car accident, it is in your best interest to speak with a Chicago personal injury lawyer who understands the types of damages that you are entitled to.

Broadly, Chicago personal injury lawyers separate damages into two categories: 1) Compensatory Damages, and 2) Punitive Damages, which are only available in the rarest of cases.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff in a lawsuit for the harm that she actually suffered in a car accident. These include:

  • Repair or replacement of your vehicle
  • Past and future medical treatment, including psychiatric treatment
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Quality of life goods and services
  • “Pain & suffering”

Repair or replacement of your vehicle is exactly what it sounds like. If someone is at fault in an accident, you are entitled to have your car repaired to the same state that it was in prior to the accident. If your car cannot be repaired, you should be paid its replacement value, generally as determined by reference to the Kelley Blue Book.

Past and future medical treatment is also straightforward. However, many victims of car accidents do not realize that all medical expenses, including psychiatric expenses, can be recovered. Many persons involved in car accidents suffer significant mental trauma, and require significant psychiatric treatment. The law allows an injured person to recover these fees. In addition, an injured person can recover future medical treatment, to the extent that it is known. Car accident victims often do not know the full extent of their injuries for some time, which is one reason why it is so important for them to seek medical treatment and to comply with their medical providers’ treatment plans.

Medical bills are often subject to insurance liens. However, Illinois limits the amount of a settlement that can be subject to liens, so an injured person can often recover a portion of these fees even when liens are accounted for.

Persons injured in car crashes often miss work, and in some cases, are unable to work for extended periods. These lost earnings, including future lost earnings, can be recovered.

In certain cases, a person injured in a car accident may not be able to perform important functions, such as walking. In such a case, the person may require extensive changes to their living arrangements to stay safe. For example, ramps may need to be installed on all levels to accommodate a wheel chair, and special arrangements may need to be made to evacuate the injured person in the event of a fire. These types of damages can also be recovered, although extensive legal and other expertise is required to properly prove them up.

Finally, damages for pain & suffering can be recovered. Pain & suffering, which insurance companies euphemistically refer to as “inconvenience,” is extremely fact dependent. However, in general terms, it is an amount sufficient to compensate you for the amount of pain and suffering that you have suffered and will suffer as a result of the accident.


Insurance companies generally will pay for damages to your vehicle without too much issue. However, without the involvement of an attorney, they will generally only offer minimal amounts for any other types of damages, even where liability is crystal clear. In cases where you have injuries, it is generally in your interest to contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney.

Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian, LLC for their added insight into motor vehicle related personal injury claims.

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