How is Personal Injury Compensation Calculated?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you likely face damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and property damage. Understandably, many people who are injured in accidents are left wondering how to calculate their personal injury compensation, or what they can expect in a personal injury settlement. Remember, there is no special formula utilized to calculate the amount of compensation that an accident victim is owed. Instead, every personal injury claim is unique. The following reviews what goes into calculating the dollar value of a personal injury claim.
Creating a Successful Argument for Compensation
Before evaluating how personal injury damages are calculated, it is important to understand that to obtain compensation, several elements in accident cases must be established. These factors include:
- That the other party owed you a duty of care, which mean they had an obligation to avoid harming you
- That the other party either committed an act or failed to act responsibly
- That other party’s act was the direct cause of your injuries
- That due to this action, you have incurred damages
The Two Types of Personal Injury Damages
Regardless of how you were injured, you are likely now facing at least some losses or “damages,” as insurance carriers refer to them. Insurance carriers often split damages into two separate categories:
- General damages. Also referred to as non-economic damages, this category includes intangible losses that a person faces and will continue to face. This category includes things like emotional trauma as well as physical pain, anxiety and depression, emotional distress, inability to concentrate, loss of companionship, physical pain, and sleep loss.
- Special damages. Sometimes also referred to as economic damages, this category includes measurable amounts of money that an accident victim lost as well as what the victim will continue to lose as a result of the responsible party’s negligence. This category includes things like medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, repair costs, and past and future lost wages. As a result, it is critical to take all bills into consideration, even if your healthcare provider covered some or all of the treatment costs. Special damages are calculated together by adding hard costs associated with an accident. This category can also be challenging to calculate because medical services sometimes result in multiple bills. For example, you might be billed by both a healthcare facility as well as by the doctor who interpreted your test results. The extent of special damages is almost always the basis for calculating the value of a personal injury case.
Understanding the “Multiplier Method”
The multiplier method is one of the most common ways that insurance carriers as well as accident attorneys calculate the cost of pain and suffering damages associated with an accident. This method involves applying a multiplier to the total of special damages. This method is based on the theory that injuries with more certain damages often involve more serious accidents and as a result, a multiplier is necessary to determine the accident’s true cost. The multiplier’s size is often influenced by the severity of an accident victim’s injuries as well as any aggravating circumstances and the time required to recover from an accident. While serious accidents might necessitate a multiplier of either three or four, less serious accidents often involve multipliers of one or two.
Although many people embrace the multiplier method, however, not everyone does. One of the most common criticisms of this method is that it provides inconsistent results because different parties use different multipliers. The method can also be misleading because it frequently fails to take unique issues about accidents into consideration. Additionally, the method also often fails to account for long term costs and immaterial damage that impacts a person for the rest of his or her life.
One of the other methods of calculating the value of a personal injury case is referred to as the “per diem” method, which involves requesting a certain amount for each day that a person has had to face pain caused by an accident. Often, however, challenges arrive in calculating the daily rate that a person uses.
Given these various methods to calculate the cost of personal injury cases, remember that the best way to assess the amount of compensation you are owed is to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
Elements Frequently Involved in High-Value Personal Injury Settlements
Many times, when accident victims end up receiving a substantial amount of compensation in personal injury settlements, the case involves one or several of the following factors:
- Extreme mental anguish often results in higher compensation. Accident victims provide documentation about visitations of mental health professionals to establish this element.
- Persistent pain from invasive medical procedures or complex wounds is a common factor in the highest value personal injury cases. As a result, if your accident results in loss of limbs, partial or full paralysis, or scarring, you can expect a greater amount of compensation.
- Shocking events that lead to injuries like plane crashes and being trapped in burning buildings or vehicles almost always result in a larger amount of compensation.
Factors That Influence Personal Injury Calculations
Often, accident victims will begin the pursuit of compensation by contacting the responsible party’s insurance carrier. Then, if necessary, a personal injury case can be pursued in a court of law. Several factors ultimately influence the amount of compensation that can be obtained from an insurance carrier and influence whether it will be necessary to pursue compensation in a court of law. Some of the factors that end up influencing how much can be obtained from insurance carriers include:
- When an injury claim’s value is substantially higher than insurance policy limits.
- When the insurance carrier denies blame on the part of the insured
- When an insurance carrier only agrees to pay for a portion of medical costs
Speak with an Experienced Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else, it is in your best interest to fight for the maximum amount of compensation possible. A skilled accident lawyer can help. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900