I've handled personal injury claims for more than 30 years, and can tell you that injury cases can be as unique as the people involved in them, which makes it difficult to generalize or typify a settlement. Because determining the monetary value of a personal injury claim is a complex matter that requires the consideration of a number of factors, sitting down with a knowledgeable attorney for a thorough and professional evaluation is the best way to estimate what your case might be worth. In the meantime, learning more about potential damages in injury cases—and a formula for calculating them—can give accident victims insight and help them arrive at a ballpark figure.
Also known as economic damages or out-of-pocket losses, special damages are usually the first type of damages assessed in personal injury cases. These damages are relatively easy to quantify, as they're calculated by adding up costs and losses related to the accident, such as:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost income if injuries, treatment, or recovery cause you to miss work
- Loss of earning capacity if injuries force you out of your job and into a lower-paying position
General damages, also called non-economic damages, don't have a direct monetary value and are more difficult to calculate. Examples of general damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress, such as stress, depression, anxiety, or strains on family relationships
- Embarrassment caused by permanent disfigurement or visible scarring
- Reduced quality of life
- Reduced enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of family, social, or educational experiences, including missed vacations, school, or special events
Calculating Potential Damages
While calculating special damages is relatively straightforward, calculating general damages and the total amount of potential damages requires the use of an injury damage formula.
To calculate general or non-economic damages, just multiply the special damages using a multiplier of 1.5 to 5, and then add the special and general damages to arrive at a ballpark settlement estimate. Generally speaking, the more serious or painful the injury, and the longer the recovery period, the higher the multiplier. In particularly egregious cases, the multiplier used in the formula may be even higher than 5.
Working with a seasoned attorney who knows the ins and outs of injury law can help ensure that the multiplier used in your case is appropriate for your injuries and the circumstances of the accident.
Personal Injury Settlements
Just because you've used an injury damage formula to calculate the amount of your potential settlement doesn't necessarily mean that's the amount you'll walk away with when everything's said and done. During the negotiations process, attorneys for both parties go back and forth until they reach a settlement that's agreeable to everyone involved. If they're unable to reach an agreement and the case goes to trial, both sides present their cases, and a judge or a jury issues a verdict that determines the settlement amount.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else, there's far too much at stake to go it alone. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you fight for the financial award you need and deserve to get your life back on track after an accident. Don't let another minute slip by without contacting an attorney to explore your legal options. Call Sevenish Law's Indianapolis law office at 800-278-9200 or complete our online contact form to arrange an appointment for a no-cost, no-obligation analysis of your case and its value. In the meantime, request a free copy of our informative pamphlet, 11 Mistakes That Could Cost Accident Victims Thousands.