What is the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim?
What is the value of your personal injury claim? For those who have been involved in a personal injury case, it is an understandable thing to wonder. Indeed, determining how much specific injuries are worth is a crucial aspect of a claim
. It can also be the most difficult aspect of the claim to determine. The negligent party in an accident—or that person’s insurance company—may pay for medical expenses, lost income, permanent physical disability, disfigurement, loss of family, educational or social experiences, emotional damages and damaged property, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident.
Special and General Damages
While adding up money spent and money lost is fairly simple, putting a dollar figure on pain and suffering
, lost opportunities or missed experiences can be much more complex. Generally speaking, an insurance claims adjuster will add up the total amount of medical expenses and other concrete damages related to the injuries which resulted from the accident. This figure is sometimes known as “special” damages. Non-monetary losses are also known as “general” damages, and include pain and suffering.
Special damages are relatively easy to quantify as they include the costs of medical treatment, the cost of repairing your damaged property and other concrete, out-of-pocket losses. General damages are not so easy to quantify, as they include the impact the injuries sustained from the accident will have on the day-to-day life of the claimant.
Multiplying Special Damages
If the injuries resulting from the accident
are relatively minor, the medical expenses or special damages, will be multiplied by 1.5 or 2 in order to reach a figure for general damages. Injuries which are more serious, particularly painful or those which are expected to be long-lasting will multiply the medical expenses by 3, 4, or 5. In extreme cases, the multiplier can go as high as 10. Once medical expenses and general damages have been determined, income lost as a result of the injuries will be added to the total.
Factors Involved in Reaching a General Damage Figure
Keep in mind, this is not a final compensation number, rather the number at which the negotiations will begin. While the multiplier is based on the extent of the injuries, how much medical treatment has been received, how much treatment will be needed in the future and whether a full recovery is expected, you and your attorney will likely argue for a higher multiplier, while the insurance adjuster will push for a lower multiplier.
Determination of Fault
The circumstances surrounding the accident will determine the extent of fault each person bears for the accident and will also affect how much the insurance company is likely to pay. The determination of fault is not an exact science, but most of the time the insurance adjuster will have a fairly good idea of who was at fault. If, for example, it is determined that 10 percent of the fault for the accident was yours, then the formula total as detailed above will be reduced by 10 percent.
Further Reading: Who Causes Accidents More Often, Motorists or Cyclists?
Putting a Number on Pain and Suffering
As noted, general damages are more difficult to quantify—after all, how does an insurance adjuster determine just how much pain you are in, other than from what you say? It is far from a science, since a sprained ankle can, in some instances, be more painful than a cracked bone in the ankle. Injuries are generally divided between soft tissue injuries and hard injuries. Evidence of a soft tissue injury is primarily the patient’s description of their pain and discomfort. A hard injury, on the other hand, can be detected via a medical exam.
Insurance companies tend consider soft tissue injuries less serious, usually assigning a formula multiplier of only one and a half to three times the special injuries. These injuries are considered less permanent or dangerous, regardless of how painful they may be. Hard injuries are considered more serious, therefore are awarded higher damages—four, five or even more as a multiplier of special damages. Hard injuries include broken bones, head injuries, wounds and spinal or vertebrae injury.
In instances where the defendant’s conduct could be considered especially egregious or careless, punitive damages may also be awarded on top of compensatory damages. The goal of compensatory damages is to make the patient whole again, while the goal of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for their conduct and act as a deterrent for such behaviors. If you are the victim of an injury which is due to the negligence of another, it could be extremely beneficial to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you determine what your injuries are worth, then can help you obtain an equitable settlement.
Contact Our Denver Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured, it is important to review your case with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney. Our Denver personal injury attorneys can help you find the answers to your questions and protect your family during this time. Contact the Denver Law Firm of John R. Fuller, P.C. today
for a free initial consultation.