If you're in an auto accident and the other person is at fault, it's fairly easy to estimate the amount of basic material damages you should sue for: the damage done to your car (or the amount needed to replace it, if it is totaled) plus any medical expenses incurred as a result of injuries you sustained in the accident. However, there are other areas of damage you may have suffered or will suffer. Most claimants in a car accident lawsuit calculate the obvious material damages accurately but underestimate others. This is where your car accident lawyer comes in.
Medical Expenses, Present and Future
You need to demand not only accumulated medical bills resulting from the accident but also future bills. These could include additional physical therapy, medications, or even surgery. Since any such accounting will be an estimate, you must work closely with your physician(s) and your attorneys to come up with a number that accounts for all your anticipated expenses but will not seem unrealistic to the judge. The rule of thumb is the more documentation, the better.
Loss of Use of the Car
From the time you suffer the accident to the time your car is repaired or replaced, you don't have the use of your car. If you had to rent a car, or if you simply have been doing without, that is a quantifiable expense to you. In the case where you have been going without your car, the formula is simple and can be taken from car rental companies: one day's loss of use of a car is economic harm equal to what it would have cost to rent a similar car. So whether you have actually rented a replacement car or not, you should sue for that amount multiplied by the number of days you have been and will be without the use of your car.
Work Time Lost and Sick Leave Used Up
If you have had to take time off from work to take care of your injuries, that constitutes financial damage to you. If you simply weren't able to work and didn't get paid, then you should claim the amount you would normally have earned plus any such amounts in the future. Many claimants, however, take paid sick leave for this time off and therefore don't think they need to be compensated. Nonetheless, they suffer economic damage because accumulated sick leave has value (this would be obvious if you used up all your sick leave caring for your injuries and then, a few weeks later, became sick and were faced with the choice between staying home and not getting paid and dragging yourself to work). Your attorney will determine the proper value of sick leave used up and calculate that into the total amount demanded in the suit.