Factors to Consider When Calculating the Cost of Future Damages in a Car Accident Claim

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Injuries from a car accident can be severe and require significant treatments and therapies, some of which may continue into the future. When pursuing a personal injury claim related to a car accident, you want to make sure you consider the damages you’ve incurred so far and any future damages.

What are future damages?

Under North Carolina law, an individual injured in a car accident due to a third party’s negligence can request future damages as part of their settlement. Future damages can include medical attention you’ll need moving forward, such as:

  • Doctor or specialist appointments
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Surgeries
  • Medical supplies
  • Home modifications
  • Prescription medications

You don’t want to be left paying for damages when someone else’s negligence caused your injury.

What factors should be considered?

Each person will have different future damages, as each injury is unique. However, there are some common factors that everyone should consider when calculating the cost of future damages.

The Severity of Your Injuries

The severity of your injuries is perhaps the most important factor when calculating the cost of future damages. When your injuries are more severe, you’re more likely to need future medical care, including expensive surgeries, ongoing doctor’s visits, in-home care, or long-term treatment. Some insurance providers will also allow you to include mental health treatments in future medical cost projections.

To receive maximum compensation, you may need expert testimony from your doctor detailing the extent of your injuries and the impact those injuries will have on your health in the future. It’s also a good idea to maintain all medical records, doctor’s letters, and records of appointments to use in presenting your case for future damages.

Ability to Return to Work

Many who have suffered long-term injuries cannot perform the same job they had prior to the injury or can’t work at all. Surviving with a smaller income or no income at all is a significant financial burden. If your car accident led to a lost earning capacity, you might be entitled to compensation.

If you are unable to return to work at all, the negligent party is responsible for covering all of your future lost income. This coverage includes your regular wages, commissions, bonuses, and employee benefits that you lost due to the accident.

If you can work some but can’t do the same job as you had before the accident, your wages will likely be reduced to match your lighter workload. In this case, the negligent party would be responsible for the difference between what you can earn after the accident and what you were earning prior to the accident. Once again, wages, commissions, bonuses, and benefits factor into the equation here.

Life Expectancy and Age

Your life expectancy and age are both significant factors in the amount of your car accident claim. Younger individuals may require less extensive medical care up front, but any ongoing medical treatments may need to continue for the rest of their lives, which may be a significant number of years. In addition, depending on the injury victim’s age, the injury may cause substantial losses aside from medical care, such as lost wages at the peak of their earning potential or an inability to participate in the active lifestyle they had previously enjoyed.

On the other hand, older individuals may require more extensive medical care for the injuries or may have pre-existing conditions that make the car accident injuries significantly worse. However, their other damages, such as lost wages, might be significantly lower or non-existent if they are close to or have entered retirement.


Your claim might be more substantial if you lived an active lifestyle prior to the car accident. You might want to seek compensation from the negligent party if you lose the ability to do some of your favorite activities.

Pain and Suffering

Future pain and suffering can be very subjective, which is why it’s hard to calculate their value. To prove the value of pain and suffering, you may need testimony from friends and family members to show how the injury has negatively impacted your life. Often, pain and suffering will be assigned a dollar value for each day.

How are future damages calculated?

Looking at the factors mentioned above will give you a good start in figuring out what you may be entitled to. When it comes time to add them up to submit with your claim, there are two common methods you can use.

Total Lifestyle Method

The total lifestyle method is generally applicable to car accident injury victims who have serious injuries that will require extensive medical care long-term. Under this method, a more comprehensive approach is taken to determining future needs.

Additional Expense Method

The additional expense method is more applicable for car accident victims who expect to make a full recovery and return to their former lifestyles. Under this method, the focus is on expenses like physical therapy, counseling, medical equipment, or home modifications that will help the car accident victim get back to normal.

How are future damages from a car accident proven?

Some states require that you prove you have an undeniable need for compensation for your future damages. Thankfully, North Carolina is not one of those states. In North Carolina, you will only need to show that there is a likelihood that you will require medical care in the future to include future damages in your injury claim.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Injury Attorney

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t worry. Our team is here to help. The attorneys at Horton & Mendez have extensive experience fighting for just compensation for car accident injury victims. We will focus on getting you the compensation you deserve while you focus on healing and recovering. Contact us for a no-obligation, free consultation. We do not charge a fee unless you receive compensation.

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