What damages may a Texas car accident victim recover?

There is no magic formula for judges and jurors to use when a Dallas car accident victim makes a claim for compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages. Each case is different, so the law leaves it up to jurors (or a judge, if a lawsuit is heard without a jury) to arrive at a fair amount based on the evidence presented at trial.

Compensation for a personal injury suffered in a car crash is a complex area of the law that includes issues about the use of evidence to persuade a judge or jury about the amount that should be awarded. This post is only an overview of the topic. It is not offered or intended to be relied upon as legal advice, which should only be obtained from an attorney.

Texas law provides for three types of damages:

  • Exemplary
  • Economic
  • Noneconomic

Exemplary damages are awarded to punish someone for his or her conduct, but they are usually limited to cases involving fraud, malice or gross negligence. For exemplary damages to be awarded for injuries suffered in a car crash, the evidence would have to prove gross negligence. The law defines gross negligence as an act or omission involving a high degree of risk of harm to others that the negligent driver ignores.

Economic damages are awarded to compensate a victim for out-of-pocket losses, such as lost wages, medical expenses and health care costs, property damage and other expenses resulting from the accident. Proving economic damages is usually accomplished through receipts, invoices and bills, and other documents or records.

Pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, long-term disability, loss of enjoyment of life and other nonpecuniary losses are categorized as noneconomic damages in Texas. Unlike economic damages, which are limited to the amount actually incurred by the car accident victim, noneconomic damages are based upon a jury or judge weighing the evidence and deciding what would be a fair amount to compensate the injured party.