Unfortunately, time cannot be reversed after a tragic car accident. Since no action can rewind the actions that led to a devastating event, the law helps accident victims and their families recover through monetary compensation. A fatal car accident that occurred recently in Onslow County, North Carolina shows how quickly life can change and why appropriate compensation is important.

On a Saturday evening in the middle of March, a 40-year-old driver traveled north on U.S. 17 in North Carolina. The driver drifted left of center and struck an oncoming car traveling south, killing a 53-year-old woman and injuring her husband. According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the driver who caused the accident was driving impaired.

The victim of a car accident and in certain circumstances the victim’s family has the right to recover losses suffered from the accident in civil court. Recovery in personal injury cases is largely limited to monetary damages. The amount and type of monetary compensation available depends on the injury suffered. Some common examples of economic recovery for accidents and personal injuries are general damages, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability and loss of consortium.

Some Types of Monetary Damages for Accident Victims

General damages are awarded for harm caused by wrongful conduct and can include compensation for physical and mental pain. Fees and bills associated with medical services like doctor visits, hospital stays, emergency room care, and ambulance fees can also be recovered and are referred to as medical expenses. Medical expenses may be awarded when the plaintiff shows the expenses are related to medical conditions caused by the injury or accident. Medical examinations for litigation are normally not recoverable as a medical expense.

If a victim is absent from work because of injuries incurred from an accident she or he may be able to recover lost wages. Lost wages are damages that represent the amount of money the plaintiff would have earned from the time of the accident to the date the lawsuit concludes. An accident victim may also recover for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering may be awarded for past and future physical pain related to the accident or injury. A jury decides the nature of the injury, the severity of the pain and the amount of time a plaintiff may be in pain. If an accident victim claims permanent disability, he or she must prove related damages by medical testimony.

Immediate family members like spouses or parents may recover monetary damages on the theory of loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is the loss of the benefits of a married partner or child and includes the loss of affection, comfort, companionship, assistance, and others. Consortium is recoverable by a family member in a wrongful death case where family members sue the party responsible for the death of the victim.