If you have been injured in an accident, you may be wondering how much monetary compensation you are entitled to. Calculating the damages in an injury claim involves many factors that are particular to each case, so it is best for you to sit down with your attorney to specifically evaluate how much your case might be worth.
Determining The Specific Damages In Your Case
To start assessing the value of your case, you need to determine what specific damages you can claim.
There are two general types of damages in a personal injury case: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that correspond to actual financial losses, such as medical costs, lost income, and rehabilitation expenses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, do not have an exact financial value and are more subjective. Examples are pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
In certain cases, an additional type of damages called punitive damages may be allowed. This amount may be paid to you, not to compensate for any loss but to punish the at-fault party. However, punitive damages apply only in a few cases.
Calculating Economic Damages
Because economic damages are quantifiable, calculating them can be as simple as adding up the dollar amount of the losses. The important thing is for you to be diligent in keeping all records of financial losses related to your accident: hospital bills, medical receipts, missed days at work, and the like.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are a little more complex to assess. You may have heard that many insurance companies apply a damages formula to determine their settlement offer, and in many cases, insurance adjusters do use this formula at the start of the negotiations process.
One formula sometimes used to come up with a ballpark for pain and suffering and emotional damages is: the total medical expenses (called “medical special damages” or just “specials”) are multiplied by 1.5 to 5, depending on the seriousness of the injury. Then the result is added to the amount of lost income. The grand total becomes a very rough monetary estimate for pain and suffering and emotional distress, also known as “general damages”.
Another way to get an estimate, especially for pain and suffering, is to assign it a “per diem” (per day) amount. In this method, you are essentially paid a daily rate for each day you have to live with the pain and suffering. Typically, a reasonable rate to use would be your daily earnings. However, this method is more challenging to justify, so naturally, insurance adjusters would prefer the formula.
It’s important to keep in mind that different States have different laws and hence different formulas are used to estimate non-economic damages. Also remember that such estimates is simply used to begin the claims negotiation process and you and your lawyer may demand to adjust the amount you will finally receive.
Jury Determined Compensation
If your case is significant and you decide to bring it to court, your monetary award will be decided by the jury, which has more lenient guidelines and more factors to consider. They will likely take into account your credibility, medical evidence, and even likeability.
Consult With A Lawyer
All of these things considered, it is wise to have an experienced accident lawyer guide you and protect your interests throughout your case. Not only will a good personal injury attorney help you determine the full amount you are entitled to, he/she can also fight for you to obtain it even in the most challenging cases.