When our Chicago car accident attorneys first meet with a new client, their first question is usually how much their case is worth. While we would love to answer this question, it’s really hard to know this early on. Here, we’ll discuss the different types of damages and whether there is a cap on how much you receive.
Many States Have a Limit on How Much You Can Receive in Damages
In many states, there is a cap on how much a plaintiff can receive. While there’s no cap on economic damages, there are many jurisdictions where the state limits how much you can receive in non-economic damages.
In addition to non-economic damages, many states have put a cap on how much you can receive in punitive damages. This is because the courts agree with the insurance companies that allowing plaintiffs to receive a windfall is bad for society.
Damages Are Typically Broken Down Into Three Types
Before we discuss how the various types of damages are treated, it’s important to explain the different types of damages. For the most part, there are two types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit – compensatory and exemplary damages.
Compensatory damages include your economic and non-economic damages. This includes things like medical bills and lost income. It also includes intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
Exemplary damages include punitive damages. While these damages are rarely issued in a car accident lawsuit, it does happen from time to time. Exemplary damages are meant to deter the defendant from behaving the same way in the future. It’s like a punishment.
Your Chicago Accident Attorney Will Have to Prove Your Damages
In order for you to receive any damages, your car accident lawyer in Chicago must prove them. They will need to submit specific evidence to prove of the damages listed in your complaint.
This isn’t that difficult when it comes to economic damages. Your Chicago accident attorney can produce receipts and other records to substantiate these damages. When it comes to pain and suffering, it’s a lot harder.
Nobody is Automatically Entitled to Compensation
One thing our car accident lawyers in Chicago always tell our clients is that nobody is automatically entitled to damages. Just because you were in a car crash doesn’t mean you suffered a loss.
In fact, before you receive a dime, your Chicago accident attorney must prove negligence. This requires that you suffer an actual injury. If you can’t prove you were physically injured, you wouldn’t file suit anyway.
Your Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago Must Prove Each Type of Damages Listed in Your Complaint
For you to receive compensation, your car accident lawyer in Chicago must show why you deserve compensation for damages. When they first file your complaint, your Chicago accident attorneys will need to list the specific damages they believe you’re entitled to.
Once you’ve demanded damages, your lawyer must explain why you deserve them. They can do this by submitting evidence and having witnesses or experts testify on your behalf.
It’s a Lot Easier to Prove Economic Damages
When it comes to economic damages, there are several types to consider. These include:
- Medical bills and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Property damage
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses
All of these can be proved using receipts, invoices, explanation of benefit forms, and payroll records.
If need be, your Chicago accident attorney can retain experts to explain how much you’re entitled to in lost future income and future medical care.
Non-Economic Damages Are Intangible and Harder to Prove
As briefly stated above, it’s a lot harder for your car accident lawyer in Chicago to prove non-economic damages. These are intangible things that are not attached to a price tag or receipt.
The most common types of non-economic damages your lawyer will demand include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of relationships with family and friends
- Loss of livelihood and purpose
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Our Chicago accident attorneys could probably list over fifty types of non-economic damages. However, for our purposes here, this list will suffice.
Is There a Cap on How Much You Can Demand?
Some of our clients who have suffered serious injuries worry that there is a cap on how much they can receive. The good news is that there is never a cap on how much you can receive in economic damages. Whatever financial losses you’ve suffered need to be paid back.
When it comes to non-economic damages and punitive damages, it gets a little more complicated.
Illinois Does Not Have a Cap on Economic, Non-Economic, or Punitive Damages
Many of our clients spend hours online before they meet with us searching to see how much their case is worth. When they see that some states have a cap on damages, they get worried. Once they meet with our car accident lawyers in Chicago, we explain that Illinois does not have caps in place.
When it comes to both compensatory and exemplary damages, there is no limit to how much you can receive. It is interesting to note that your non-economic damages will usually be anywhere from one to three times the amount of economic damages you’re entitled to.
There Was a Cap on Damages from 2005 Until 2010
Just because there is currently no cap on damages in Illinois doesn’t mean it’s always been the case. In 2005, the Illinois legislature did issue new rules on damages. They implemented a new law that capped the amount any plaintiff can receive.
For five years, these limits remained in place. However, in 2010, the courts found that this law was in violation of the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution. The law was revoked and, ever since, there has been no limit on plaintiffs’ damages in personal injury cases.
Your Chicago Accident Attorney Will Fight to Get You as Much Money as Possible
The only reason you hire a car accident lawyer in Chicago is so they can get you compensation for your losses. To do that, your attorney will need as much information about your case as possible.
We suggest that you contact our office and schedule your free, initial consultation with a skilled Chicago accident attorney. The insurance company will have a whole team of lawyers working for them. You need to have somebody in your corner too.