Question: I was injured in a car accident. My car was damaged and I was injured. At the time of the accident, I was on my way to a client meeting which I missed. The client took his business elsewhere and I got fired from my job. The insurance company only wants to pay for the damage to my car and for my injuries. I believe I am entitled to a lot more given the loss of my job. Can I sue for those losses also?
Robert’s Answer: Texas law provides that damages as the result of a personal injury or car accident case are limited to those which are the “proximately caused” by the accident. The key word there is “proximate.” What this means is that only the damages and injuries which are reasonably foreseeable to arise from the accident are recoverable. This would include things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages (due to the injury), car repairs, car rental, etc.
The types of damages you are seeking are called “consequential” or “incidental” damages. Generally speaking, these types of damages are not recoverable because they are not readily foreseeable. Rather, these damages are normally particular to the injured party’s specific circumstances. For instance, it is foreseeable that a someone will need a rental car while their car is being repaired. However, it is not generally foreseeable that someone will lose their job because their car is damaged in an accident.
Another example would include lost wages. It is foreseeable that someone will lose wages because their injury. But it is not foreseeable that someone will lose time from work just because their car was damaged. Rather, the law will require you to get a rental and continue to go to work.
Think about it as links on a chain. Pretend the accident is the first link. The farther down the chain you have to go to connect your losses to the accident, then the less likely you will be able to recover for those losses.