Getting into a car accident can be very expensive — in more ways than one. The bills for an emergency operation, hospital stay, physical therapy and other treatment can be enormous, as can the cost to repair or replace your vehicle. Meanwhile, your injuries can force you to stop working for a long time, costing you a lot of income once you use up your sick time.
Then there are the effects that do not necessarily show up on an itemized bill. The pain you have lived with every day since your crash. The disabilities — perhaps temporary, perhaps permanent — that limit your ability to do daily tasks on your own. Your inability to help your spouse with the children. And the way your overall quality of life has suffered. These things are no less real but harder to put a dollar figure on.
Still, in Texas, you may be entitled to both kinds of damages if you get hurt in a wreck that was somebody else’s fault. The first type of damages described above is called economic damages. The second paragraph has examples of noneconomic damages because they are less directly tied to financial harm. But the law recognizes that these debilitating effects on your life should be compensated for.
Punitive damages in Austin
There is also a third type of compensation you can pursue called punitive damages. These come into play when the defendant’s behavior was especially egregious. As the term implies, punitive damages are supposed to punish the defendant for their misconduct, not compensate the plaintiff for a specific harm. But in Texas, punitive damages are capped using this formula: two times economic damages plus no more than $750,000 worth of noneconomic damages, or $200,000, whichever is greater. So, if a plaintiff wins a lawsuit and the jury awards them $500,000 in economic damages and $1 million in noneconomic damages, the jury cannot award more than $1.75 million in punitive damages (two times $500,000 plus $750,000).
A discussion with a personal injury attorney can help you know what your personal injury claim could be worth.