What Is Your Claim Worth?

The value of a personal injury claim can vary widely based on numerous factors. Understanding these factors and how they may impact your specific case is crucial in determining an appropriate settlement value. The following are some of the most common factors that influence the value of a personal injury claim:

The Nature and Severity of the Injury

In general, the more severe and long-lasting the injury, the higher the potential compensation. Common injuries in personal injury cases include:

  • Soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal injuries

Medical Costs Associated with the Injury

One of the primary components of a personal injury settlement is compensation for medical expenses incurred due to the injury. These may include costs for emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, assistive devices, and rehabilitation services.

To build a strong case, it’s crucial to keep detailed records of all your medical treatments and expenses.
It’s also worth noting that future medical costs may be considered if you expect to require ongoing care or treatment.

Examples of Medical Costs:

  • Ambulance transportation
  • Emergency room treatment
  • Hospitalization
  • Diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or MRIs
  • Surgical procedures
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medications

Lost Wages

Lost wages are the income that a victim would have earned if they hadn’t had to miss work due to their injuries. These wages encompass not only immediate losses but also potential future losses resulting from an extended recovery period.

Calculation of lost wages typically involves past pay stubs, tax returns, and any other evidence of the victim’s pre-injury income. Lost wages must be carefully accounted for, as they often represent a substantial portion of a personal injury claim’s total value.

Loss of Earning Capacity

This is different from lost wages, a term that refers to the actual income a person has lost due to their inability to work during the period of recovery or what they will lose until they go back to the same job.

In some instances, even after receiving proper medical treatment, an injured person may not be able to return to work at the same level as before the injury. They may have to get a new job or reduce their hours, making less money. Calculating this loss of earning capacity can be a complex process. It depends on various factors, including the victim’s age, health, occupation, earning history, and projected future earnings.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are non-economic damages that are difficult to measure, but they are an important consideration in a personal injury claim. Factors that can affect the valuation of pain and suffering include the severity and duration of the pain and the type of injury.

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is the compensation for the psychological impact of the injury on the victim’s emotional well-being. Anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can all contribute to emotional distress. To support a claim for emotional distress, records of counseling or therapy sessions, as well as evidence from expert professionals, are helpful.

Impact on Quality of Life

An injury can have a significant impact on a person’s overall quality of life. Recovering from a severe injury often involves enduring pain, discomfort, and limitations that prevent one from participating in activities they once enjoyed. Compensation for the impact on quality of life should address both physical and emotional suffering caused by the injury.

For instance, if an avid cyclist sustains a permanent leg injury due to a faulty product, they may no longer be able to engage in their favorite pastime. The emotional toll of this loss should be considered as part of the personal injury claim.

Permanent Disability or Disfigurement

When an injury results in permanent disability or disfigurement, the implications can extend far beyond the immediate medical expenses. Such a visible consequence can lead to social stigma, psychological distress, and reduced opportunities in life. In these cases, the victim may be entitled to significant compensation to account for these additional challenges.
For example, a burn injury caused by a defective electronic device could result in severe scarring. This visible disfigurement may cause the victim considerable embarrassment, self-consciousness, and a lasting negative impact on their social and professional interactions.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages

While there is no national standard method to non-economic damages, it’s often done by using either the multiplier method or the per diem method.

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is one of the most common ways to calculate these damages. This method involves assigning a multiplier (a number between 1.5 and 5) based on the severity of the accident, injuries, and overall impact on the victim’s life, with the higher numbers being used for more severe injuries. The multiplier is then multiplied by the total economic damages, which include medical expenses, lost wages, and other measurable costs.

Multiplier Factors

Selecting the appropriate multiplier requires considering various factors such as:

Severity of Injuries: More severe injuries will typically receive a higher multiplier.
Pain and Suffering Duration: The longer-lasting the pain and suffering, the higher the multiplier should be.
Impact on Daily Life: How the injuries and pain affect your everyday life, including work, hobbies, and personal relationships, will significantly impact the chosen multiplier.
Future Medical Needs: A higher multiplier is often used when the victim will have ongoing pain, medical treatment, or disabilities to manage.

Economic Damages: $20,000
Multiplier: 3
Pain and Suffering Compensation: $20,000 x 3 = $60,000

Per Diem Method

The per diem method, which is Latin for “per day,” assigns a dollar amount to each day spent dealing with non-economic damages. To calculate the total pain and suffering damages, the specific daily amount is multiplied by the number of days the victim experiences these issues.

Calculating Per Diem

There are several ways to estimate a daily amount:

Lost Income: A popular approach involves using your lost daily income as the per diem rate.
Negotiated Rates: In some cases, the daily rate can be negotiated between the victim, the insurance company, and the legal team.
Precedent: Legal precedent or similar cases can also be used to determine an appropriate per diem amount.

Daily Rate: $200
Days of Pain and Suffering: 90
Pain and Suffering: $200 x 90 = $18,000

Determining the value of your personal injury claim can be a complex process. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide valuable assistance throughout this process, so make sure you contact one as soon as possible.