Calculating Your Personal Injury Case Settlement
Injuries can be devastating. They can completely change a person’s life and the lives of everyone who knows the injured person. Calculating just how much any particular personal injury claim is worth can be difficult and complicated.
Each state has its own laws and regulations when it comes to adjudicating a claim for personal injury. In California, many nuanced laws must be navigated while working through personal injury law. That’s why it is crucial to get a ballpark idea of what your claim might be worth and find an experienced attorney who knows California laws thoroughly.
What Basic costs Go Into a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury can have long-term effects that last for years or even for a lifetime. Every case is different, and it is important to carefully consider all the aspects of your injury that are affecting your life.
The most obvious issues in any personal injury care are the immediate medical needs. This includes any treatment you needed immediately after the injury took place, the pain you suffered as a result of the injury, hospital stays, and all medical attention required during the first few days.
Long-term medical issues
For many people injured by someone else’s negligence, physical pain and immediate recovery are just the beginning. They could face years of rehabilitation and physical therapy. Therapy and rehabilitation expenses add up quickly, as does the cost of rehabilitation aids, such as wheelchairs or walkers.
Personal income loss
While you are recovering, you may not be able to work. This means lost wages, but it can also mean other losses, as well. While you were laid up, you might have missed opportunities for overtime pay that you would otherwise have taken.
You might also miss out on a chance for advancement or promotion because you simply weren’t there to be noticed or take advantage of an opportunity. If your company calculates bonuses by the number of sales you make or the amount of time you spend working, you might also lose out here if you have to spend significant time away from work.
Family income loss
The injured person is not the only one who suffers in these cases. If a spouse has to take time off of work to care for an injured person, this can be devastating to the whole family. It may be important to consider overtime opportunity loss for a spouse, too, as well as the possibility that a spouse has missed out on bonuses or promotions.
Many out-of-pocket expenses add up quickly when someone gets badly injured. Did you have to pay someone to watch your children or take them to soccer practice? Do you have to buy a different vehicle to accommodate an injured person and the rehabilitation equipment needed?
What about something as simple as cooking family meals? If your family normally cooks at home but must order in more often because the primary cook has been hurt, this is financial hardship affects everyone.
Property damage or loss
Another thing to consider in a personal injury is the loss of property. In an accident, you may lose an expensive mobile phone or a laptop computer. Your car may be damaged and require extensive repairs or even need to be replaced completely. Whether it’s a new bike or a wallet holding all of your credit cards, it can be expensive and difficult to replace lost or damaged property.
All of the losses and expenses just listed are fairly easy to prove. You can present bills for your medications, affidavits from work showing what you’ve lost, and receipts for personal property that must be replaced. But these aren’t the only issues when it comes to fair compensation for your personal injury.
What Else Goes Into a Personal Injury Claim?
Medical bills, car damage, and baby-sitter costs are easy to quantify. Pain and suffering are not. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on suffering, whether that suffering is physical, emotional, or mental. This sort of pain and suffering is referred to as non-economic losses.
Personal injury can cause immense pain and throw you and your family into emotional turmoil. Some cases even destroy families, and personal injury often causes humiliation and loss of companionship. Your personal reputation may even be destroyed.
These issues are subjective and difficult to quantify, and California acknowledges that these are legitimate claims in many cases. In fact, in some cases, juries are even required to award non-economic losses, though California has a cap of $250,000.
Can Anything Limit My Claim For Damages?
Worker’s compensation. In worker’s compensation claims, the state of California does not allow any pain and suffering damages. For all other types of personal injury, including car accidents, wrongful death, malpractice, slip and fall cases, or intentional injuries, you could be awarded compensation for your pain and suffering.
Circumstance limits. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, three circumstances could prevent you from getting any non-economic, or pain and suffering, damage awards. You will not be allowed pain and suffering damages if you:
- Were driving an uninsured or underinsured car at the time
- Own a car involved in the accident that was uninsured or underinsured (unless the responsible party is convicted of a DUI)
- Were convicted of a DUI at the time of the accident
How Do I Find Out What My case Is Worth?
The most important step is to find an experienced attorney who will defend you. The attorneys at Avrek Law have extensive experience with personal injury cases in California and are motivated to get the best possible result for you and your family.
Before you talk with a personal injury lawyer, however, you can get a general idea of what your case might be worth by using a particular formula for calculating your losses.
Personal injury compensation calculator
The formula for calculating loss is: maximum $ = pain multiplier x medical expenses + loss of income. In this calculation, each term has a specific meaning as it relates to the other terms.
Pain multiplier x medical expenses. What this means is that you should multiply your real medical expenses by a factor that relates to how severe the injury was. A minor injury, such as a sprained ankle, will only be multiplied by a factor of 1 to 3. A severe injury will be multiplied by a factor of 3 to 5.
As a practical example, if you suffered a simple leg break and incurred $1,300 in medical expenses, that amount would likely be multiplied by 3 to give you a pain multiplier of $3,900 in pain and suffering damages.
If you suffered a severe leg break with complications requiring multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation, and had medical bills of $23,000, this would likely be multiplied by a factor of 5, giving you a pain multiplier amount of $115,000.
If your medical expenses have not finished at the time you bring your personal injury case, you should consult with your doctor and lawyer to get an estimate for future expenses.
Loss of income. Loss of income is any amount of money that you have lost and are likely to lose because of your injury. If you are paid a monthly salary, this is easy to calculate. If you are paid hourly, you may need to estimate your average time at work each week as well as calculate any overtime opportunities that were available and that you would normally have taken advantage of.
Does this formula always apply?
Not necessarily. This is the formula that is used when less serious injuries are involved. If you have been catastrophically injured, you will want to consult with a personal injury lawyer to get an idea of the best way to proceed. Many possible factors are involved, and severe injury cases can require special expertise to navigate.
In severe injuries, you may calculate other special damages, such as the effects of depression, memory loss or insomnia that you might suffer. If you are permanently disabled and unable to interact with your children or enjoy intimacy with your spouse as you once did, you can also take this into account.
How Do I Prepare For Making a Claim?
It’s always a good idea to get in touch with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible, but you can do some other things to make sure your case goes as smoothly as possible.
- Keep all your medical records
- Make a list of all property damage or loss you have suffered
- Keep receipts for everything you spend related to your accident
- Pay attention to expenses that are out of the ordinary and caused by your injury
- Keep a journal of your emotional health
- Track your sleep and how your injury has interfered with it
- Record every time your injury interferes with your daily routine
No amount of money can ever make up for the personal trauma and family suffering that personal injury causes, but bringing a personal injury case can give you a sense of closure as well as protect your rights and help to make life after an accident more bearable. Consult with one of Avrek’s many experts in California personal injury law today to discuss your options.