What Damages Can You Recover in a Washington Car Accident Lawsuit?

hammer of the judge. two collided cars on a white background. damages recovered from car accident concept

Car accident injuries can have a significant impact on all aspects of your life. They not only can affect you physically — but also emotionally, psychologically, and financially. You may require extensive medical treatment, incur large medical bills, lose time from work, and be unable to participate in the activities you once enjoyed. However, by filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may be entitled to recover a wide variety of damages for both the monetary and non-monetary losses you suffered in connection with the accident.

How to Recover Damages After a Car Accident

If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, you may be able to recover your economic and non-economic damages in a lawsuit. While you might have a few options when it comes to paying your medical bills, including PIP coverage, your own health insurance, or the at-fault party’s liability insurance, you may have incurred a variety of other losses. In these cases, it may be necessary to hold the at-fault driver accountable for their wrongdoing by filing a personal injury action.

Importantly, Washington is a fault-based state. You can file an insurance claim or bring a personal injury action against anyone who should be held legally accountable for your injuries. There is no requirement that you must first file a claim against your own insurance policy. However, a personal injury action must generally be filed within three years from the date the accident occurred, unless an exception applies and the statute of limitations can be tolled.

What Economic Damages Can You Recover After a Car Crash?

The financial toll a car accident can take on you and your family might be substantial — and the recoverable damages in a car accident lawsuit can include your economic losses. Under Washington law, economic damages are defined as “objectively verifiable monetary losses.” These types of damages are typically straightforward and easy to quantify. For instance, losses incurred in connection with your medical treatment or lost wages can be categorized as economic damages.

A broad scope of economic damages can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit, including the following:

  • Hospital expenses
  • Unreimbursed medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • The cost of future medical expenses
  • Cost of replacement services
  • Future lost earnings
  • Loss of business or employment opportunities
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Property damages

A variety of evidence can be used to prove your car accident-related economic losses in a personal injury action. For example, bills, receipts, paystubs, insurance statements, and other documentation can all help to establish the financial harm you suffered. If you prevail in your lawsuit, you can recover the full extent of your economic losses — there is no cap on the economic damages you can recover in Washington State.

What Non-Economic Damages Can You Obtain Following a Collision?

A car accident victim might not only incur economic losses, but they may have suffered damages that are much more difficult to quantify. Commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” damages, non-economic damages are defined under Washington law as “subjective, non monetary losses.” Unlike economic damages, these damages do not include definitive calculations, but rather, they measure the impact of the injury on the victim’s life.

Non-economic damages that can be recovered in a Washington personal injury action include compensation for the following:

  • Physical pain
  • Long-term complications
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Inconvenience
  • Injury to reputation
  • Humiliation
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Inability to participate in sports, family activities, and hobbies
  • Destruction of the parent-child relationship

Proving non-economic damages in a personal injury action can be challenging. It usually involves presenting evidence such as medical records and testimony from family members or others who can discuss the limitations you face as a result of your injuries. Some cases might also require the use of expert witnesses to demonstrate your non-economic losses. For example, a medical expert witness can explain to a jury how the injury affected your daily life and livelihood. A mental health expert witness may be brought into a case to discuss the emotional anguish and suffering you experienced due to your injuries.

Although there is no maximum for the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded, a specific formula is used to cap these losses in Washington personal injury cases. Under Washington law, pain and suffering damages are capped at the equivalent of .43, multiplied by the average annual wage of the victim, which is then multiplied by the life expectancy of the victim.

Contact an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney

If you were in a collision and are wondering what damages can be recovered from a car accident, it’s best to have a skillful personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding your rights. The Bellingham personal injury attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide knowledgeable counsel to car accident victims throughout Washington State and strive to obtain positive results in every case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.