When we discuss accidents on this blog, we tend to concentrate on the most concrete forms of monetary damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. It’s relatively simple to assign a dollar value to these damages: You add up the bills related to the injury, and you calculate how much income the injured person lost during the time they were unable to return to work. But the damages in many personal injury cases can get much more complicated. A serious injury affects a person for the rest of their life, and that change has a cost.
Recently, artist Steve Shriver talked to a website about how a biking accident affected his life and work. A painter known internationally for his Renaissance-inspired style, Shriver has created murals in Moscow and other cities. He has several murals around Southern California.
In 2016, Shriver was finishing a 100-mile bike ride with his cycling group when he was struck by a car in Malibu. The impact threw him in front of a second car, which ran over him. Amazingly, he survived, but suffered broken bones, punctured organs and brain damage. He required multiple surgeries and spent a long time in a hospital intensive care unit.
Fortunately, Shriver found he was able to continue drawing and painting. However, as he prepared in May for his first gallery show since the accident, it became clear that the accident had changed his art as well as almost every other aspect of his life. In one, he paints himself staring into a skull, as if to demonstrate how the accident forced him to face his own mortality.
An injury doesn’t just affect a person’s pocketbook. It can affect a person’s emotional life, and relationships with loved ones. In the case of traumatic brain injury and other serious injuries, these changes may well be permanent.
These changes represent real losses to the injured person and their family. They may be more difficult to calculate than medical bills and lost wages, but they are damages, and the injured deserves compensation when they are the result of another driver’s negligence.