How are damages assessed in a personal injury case?
How are damages assessed?
When you sustain an injury and file a personal injury claim, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses. But how are damages assessed in personal injury cases in Florida?
Generally, the personal injury damage award is determined by many factors that are particular to each case. That’s why it’s crucial to seek legal representation to evaluate how much your case might be worth and to ensure you get the necessary funding you need to recover from your injuries.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory.” They are designed to compensate a victim for what they have lost as a result of the accident or injury. Compensatory damages strive to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again physically, financially, and emotionally. The idea is to put a monetary value on all the consequences of an accident.
There are two general types of damages in personal injury cases: economic damages (also called special damages) and non-economic damages (also called general damages).
Economic personal injury damages are those that seek to restore actual, quantifiable financial losses incurred by a victim as a result of their injury. Examples are medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and lost income. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more subjective and do not have an exact financial value. Examples include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.
Insurance companies and injury attorneys use a mathematical formula to estimate the value of an injury and its consequences. Assessing damages in a personal injury case requires an extensive analysis of the injuries, resulting bills, future impacted expenses, lost wages, or psychological and emotional impact of being injured.
Calculating Economic Losses
Because economic damages are quantifiable, they are typically easy to calculate. The calculation is as easy as adding up the dollar amount of incurred losses. You’re entitled to full compensation for your actual expenses. The most important thing you can do is to be diligent in keeping all receipts and records of financial losses, such as medical bills and missed days at work.
Economic personal injury damages include:
- Medical expenses: Damages for medical expenses may include medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, and future costs of medical care. You’re entitled to full reimbursement of medical expenses, including ambulances, x-rays, doctor visits, diagnostic testing, medications, hospital stays, etc. Future medical expenses are calculated by estimating the victim’s medical needs for the rest of their life expectancy.
- Lost wages: If you’ve sustained an injury that prevents you from being able to return to work, you may be able to recover compensation for any income lost. This may include salary cuts, lost bonuses, or other perks. The key to determining this amount is to provide your attorney with documentation from your employer. You may also receive reimbursement for what you’ll be unable to earn in the future due to lost or diminished earning capacity.
- Property damage: You may recover the costs of repairing or replacing property damaged in an accident, like a vehicle in an automobile accident. Property is valued at its fair market value at the time of the accident.
- Costs of living with a disability: A catastrophic injury may leave the victim with a disability that alters their daily life. Damages may cover the expenses related to this change. A damage award, for example, may compensate a plaintiff for the costs of in-house nursing care or the costs of renovating the home to make it wheelchair accessible.
Assessing Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic personal injury damages are a little more complex to calculate. They do not involve quantifiable amounts and are more subjective.
Pain and suffering are the most common non-economic damages in personal injury cases. It typically includes compensation for actual physical pain and emotional distress. Emotional distress comprises anger, fear, anxiety, frustration, and loss of enjoyment of life as a result of a debilitating injury.
There’s no law that dictates the amount of non-economic damages that may be received in a personal injury case. However, insurance companies and injury lawyers calculate the amount based on various factors, including the amount of pain you experience, the nature and severity of the injury, the disruption to your life, and the length of recovery.
Two popular methods are used to calculate pain and suffering damages:
- The Multiplier Method: This multiplies the total medical expenses by a factor of 1.5–5, depending on the seriousness of the injury. The multiplier might be on the low end when the injuries are relatively minor and 5 or higher when the injuries are serious or long-lasting. The theory of estimating pain and suffering damages based on economic damages is that more serious injuries will result in higher medical expenses, and will likely cause the victim greater pain and suffering.
- The Per Diem Method: In this method, you are paid a daily rate for your pain and suffering. The amount is paid for the number of days you’ll live with pain and suffering, typically from the date of the injury to the date you’ll be declared to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Your daily earnings may be used to arrive at a reasonable per diem rate.
The Injury Lawyers at Yanchuck Berman Can Help You
If you are suffering from physical or emotional injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, don’t let insurance companies shortchange you. Reach out to a St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Yanchuck Berman to assess the specifics of your case.
Our injury lawyers can help you determine the full amount you’re entitled to, protect your interests, and fight for you to obtain compensation even in the most challenging cases. Contact our Florida law firm today for a free, confidential review of your case.