Last week, cycling champion Lance Armstrong reportedly pleaded guilty to charges connected to a hit-and-run accident last year in Aspen. Nobody was injured or killed in the crash, though there were property damages when Armstrong side-swiped two parked cars near a ski resort. Sources said Armstrong paid fines and court costs through the mail, and was able to avoid a public appearance.
Hit-and-run doesn’t always end so well for offenders, of course, particularly when somebody is injured or killed. Criminal charges for hit-and-run are an important part of the achieving justice for accident victims, but personal injury litigation can also be an important part of the picture.
Those who are injured in a hit-and-run accident may end up not only with damage to their vehicle, but also with medical bills and lost earnings, as well psychological challenges. All of this adds up and can be quite disruptive to the accident victim’s life. Fortunately, compensatory damages can include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, include things like medical costs, lost wages, and similar losses that are readily measures in monetary terms. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, emotional distress, and damages that are more difficult to measure. In some car accidents, non-economic damages are an important way to compensate the victim, particularly when economic damages are not significant due to the nature of the injury, the victim’s economic situation, and other unique factors.
Non-economic damages are not a free-for-all, though, and there are limits to jury awards. We’ll pick up on this point in our next post and continue our discussion of damages.