What Damages Can I Sue For In A Car Accident

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.

2 thoughts on “What Damages Can I Sue For In A Car Accident”

  1. MVA: was rear ended;; specially equipped disability veh w/wheel chair power
    lift & remotely controlled “access” seat for disabled, equipped for stroke disabled
    wife, bed & wheel chair only o/options. Wife not passenger in damaged veh;
    Question v/simple: in Tx, are we entitled to ‘consequential damages’ for any
    any injuries, emotional distress, mental anquish suffered bv either self or
    wife due to MVA.during time car not useable for intended purposes ie
    med visits, etc.

    1. You post a very interesting question. If I understand correctly, your disabled wife was not in the vehicle and was, therefore, not injured in the accident. If that is the case, your wife would not have a claim for personal injuries. Another question you raise is whether she can collect “consequential damages” in case she is subsequently injured because her specially equipped vehicle was damaged in the accident. Unfortunately, I would say the answer is “No.” Whether damages are recoverable in any given case depends on two basic factors: “Causation” and “Foreseeability.”

      First, the damages have to be caused by the accident. In your case, the injuries or damages you describe are caused by other subsequent incidents only because your wife did not have access to her vehicle. However, those subsequent incidents were not caused by the actual collision. Likewise, those damages would not be recoverable.

      Second, before certain damages are recoverable, you also have to show that they are foreseeable. That means a reasonable person must be able to foresee, or expect, that damages could arise from a certain incident. For instance, it would be foreseeable for someone to get injured and incur medical expenses from a motor vehicle collision. It would not be foreseeable that someone would lose their home to foreclosure due to an accident.

      As in your wife’s case, it would not be foreseeable that she would be injured in the days or weeks following the accident just because a specially equipped vehicle is unavailable for her use. It might be inconvenient for her, but mere inconvenience is not a ground for recovery of damages.

      I hope this answers your questions and I thank you for your post.

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