The goal in any personal injury lawsuit is to obtain a reasonable sum of money in order to make you whole again. Determining what this amount is can be difficult, and figures may even vary widely between people with similar injuries. The following criteria can guide you in figuring out what vehicle accident personal injury claim might be worth.
Medical Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
The first category of expenses an insurance company looks at is medical damages. These damages are referred to as “medical special damages” or “specials” by the insurance company. Medical damages include doctor or hospital bills, in addition to any other expenses related to your medical care. The cost of future medical bills, such as surgeries that are scheduled but not yet completed, may be included in the cost of medical special damages as well.
General Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
The next category of damages that are calculated are “general damages.” General damages are those that do not necessarily have an attached value, yet are a direct result of the injury. Some examples of general damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lowered quality of life
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
To calculate general damages, an adjuster will take the amount of medical damages, and then assign a multiplier to it. This multiplier is based on the severity of your injuries. Relatively minor injuries are typically assigned a modifier of 1.5 or 2, while severe or long-lasting injuries could be given between 5 and ten. Higher multipliers are given when there is an extended recovery period or long term medical treatment is needed to make you whole again.
Lost Income in a Personal Injury Claim
The third category of expenses is lost income. The amount of money calculated includes wages lost as a result of an injury, but can also include future loss of earnings as well. For example, if your injury greatly restricts the amount or type of work you can perform, your new anticipated earnings could be compared to your previous earnings to determine future loss of income.
Calculating Fault in a Personal Injury Claim
The amount calculated by adding general damages plus medical damages and lost wages does not necessarily equal a settlement amount. Due to a legal principle known as comparative negligence, an insurance company may reduce its settlement based upon the amount you were deemed to be negligent. This principle is designed to prevent people from profiting from their own negligence.
Your at-fault percentage will be determined by a number of things, and is typically calculated by the insurance adjuster assigned to your case. This amount is therefore subjective, and may sometimes be slanted in favor of the insurance company. If you feel the percentage amount is unfair, your attorney can argue in favor of a lower one during the negotiation process.
Insurance adjusters do not typically disclose their formulas for calculating damages, yet knowing what those formulas are can go a long way toward ensuring you obtain a fair settlement. Keep them in mind when calculating damages yourself in order to come up with an accurate figure. For additional information on damages and how they relate to personal injury claims, read our article Understanding Personal Injury Damages.This process can be overwhelming for people especially when they are recovering from a serious accident. In these cases, it is highly recommended that you contact a competent personal injury attorney who specializes in these types of cases.
The accident attorneys at David & Philpot, P.L., have been helping victims of auto and truck accidents in Florida for over 20 years. We understand how insurance adjusters calculate damages and the strategies they use to minimize payouts for your personal injury claim. If you or a family member have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. We can be reached at 800.360.7015 or you can fill out our free case evaluation form and we will get right back with you.