Damages” is a legal term that refers to the monetary compensation for loss or injury caused by the wrongful or negligent act of another person or party. Generally, after a car accident in Omaha, the injured party or parties may seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages to cover losses such as medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. An Omaha car accident attorney from Berry Law can help you determine what compensation may be available in your car accident case, then help you bring a comprehensive claim for your car accident damages and fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Are the Types of Compensation for Car Accidents in Omaha?
If you suffered injuries in an Omaha car accident, there are various types of damages you may claim depending on your car accident injuries. Damages are generally categorized as economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages, also known as special damages, are damages with a specific dollar amount as defined by the Nebraska statute. These damages include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income earnings
- Reduction of earning capacity
- Property and vehicle damage
- Rehabilitation and therapy costs
- Home or vehicle accommodations
- Special equipment for mobility
- Replacement services, such as childcare or cleaning
You may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages. Sometimes called general damages or pain and suffering damages, non-economic damages are typically more subjective in their nature and value because no exact dollar value can be calculated. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Disfigurement or scarring
There are no punitive or exemplary damages in Nebraska that are meant to punish the at-fault party. That is because, in Nebraska, punitive damages are unconstitutional and cannot be recovered under Nebraska state law claims.
What Does Car Insurance Cover in Omaha?
Nebraska is a “fault” or “tort” state regarding car accidents. That means the person who is at fault for the accident, and their insurance company, are responsible for paying for the other person’s injuries and property damage resulting from the accident.
Nebraska requires all motorists to carry liability insurance as well as uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. If the at-fault driver isn’t insured or if their car insurance policy doesn’t cover all the medical expenses related to your accident, you can file a claim against your UM/UIM coverage.
The minimum auto insurance coverage required by Nebraska law is:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury liability
- $50,00 per accident for bodily injury liability
- $25,000 per accident for property damage liability
- $25,000 per person in UM/UIM coverage
- $50,000 per accident in UM/UIM coverage
Additionally, depending on the policy, the injured party may also have access to Med-Pay, a no-fault provision in insurance to pay preliminary medical expenses. An attorney can help you determine what coverage is available.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
There is no universal formula for calculating general damages in car accident claims. Many lawyers take the position that these damages are whatever a jury will award in any particular car accident claim. However, while there is no universal formula, there are methodologies that lawyers use to determine how non-economic damages are calculated.
The most well-known method is the multiplier method of damages. In this method, a number from one through five is assigned, based on the level of trauma the person experienced. A multiplier of one indicates a relatively minor injury while a multiplier of five would represent a catastrophic injury. The total amount of the economic damages is then multiplied by the number assigned to the accident. This method is favored by many insurance adjusters as a frame of reference to evaluate the potential range of damages. This method is not often used.
A more common and widely used way of calculating non-economic damages is the per diem method. The per diem method places a value for each day the injured party suffered from the effects of their injury. For example, if the person is permanently injured, the lawyer reviews mortality tables to determine their life expectancy and calculates damages over the remainder of their lifetime. After determining how many years, months, and days the individual has left to live, a value is assigned for each day they live with the permanent condition.
What if the Insurance Company Settlement Offer is Too Low?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, the insurance company may offer you compensation to quickly settle your insurance claim. Before you accept any money, it’s recommended that you speak with a personal injury lawyer to understand the value of your claim. Insurance companies rarely make fair settlement offers. The car accident lawyers at Berry Law often engage in lengthy negotiations fighting for the compensation our clients are entitled to.
If you accept an offer from the insurance company without speaking to a lawyer, you may be waiving your right to pursue additional compensation if the injuries you sustained require more medical treatment than expected.
If the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. However, there is a strict four-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims in Nebraska. While there are few exceptions to this deadline if you fail to file on time, you cannot recover compensation through the court system.
A Car Accident Lawyer can Help You Recover Damages After a Car Crash in Omaha
A personal injury attorney can help you recover damages after an Omaha car accident by developing your personal injury claim and supporting it with the appropriate evidence. They will explore all avenues of compensation to ensure you get the maximum you are entitled to. To discuss how a car accident attorney can help with your case, call Berry Law for a free consultation.