Auto Accident Litigation: Knowing the Difference Between Damages and Recovery and Understanding Liability

Car Accident Lawyer

Car accidents not only cause damage to property but often bodily harm. While there may exist a particular cultural bias about personal injury lawsuits, many lawyers even being compared to petty ambulance chasers, the physical and oft-emotional duress is tangible in most claims, leading to legitimate pursuits for restitution and justice. However, it is critical that claimants not confuse potential damages with actual recovery because these two terms vary regarding defendant capability and liability. Therefore, a plaintiff is best served by understanding the legal terminology and hiring a lawyer who can present a clearer picture of realistic expectations.


Damages, which can take the form of medical, professional and personal losses, provide the court with a summary of the costs and worth of an auto accident. These losses can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, even if a trial concludes that you, the plaintiff, have a right to those funds, you may only receive a fraction of the judgment because of the limits and sources of recovery.


Recovery refers to the amount a defendant can afford to pay. If a defendant has liability insurance, then a plaintiff may recoup some losses from that policy. However, without insurance, assets or a limited income, the defendant’s ability to pay damages is severely limited, which means recovery is nearly impossible. Consulting with an attorney before pursuing legal recourse may prevent costly and potentially meaningless litigation against financially burdened defendants.


Also, while one party may bear the responsibility for causing the accident, it does not mean that they are liable for all damages. For instance, if you sustain an injury during the crash but do not seek medical treatment, resulting in a worsened injury, the defendant does not bear the blame for the entire injury. In fact, if you let an injury fester without seeking medical treatment, then all liability may transfer to you. Therefore, make sure you receive and track all procedures and costs associated with your accident because it will help your lawyer prove culpability when seeking damages.

Car accidents are common occurrences, and personal injury trials and mediations are equally commonplace. The frequency of these events, however, does not diminish the accrued losses and injuries, for which people have a right to compensation and reimbursement. If you sustained an injury during a recent car accident, then contact a local personal injury attorney and discuss if pursuing legal action is possible. Discuss the potential damages and realistic expectations for recovery.

Source: Car Accident Lawyer Woodland Hills, CA, Barry P. Goldberg