There are a lot of specific details that go into determining the overall value of a personal injury case, which depends on a range of factors such as the extent of the injuries that the victim sustained, their historical income and the impacts to their earning capacity, and more. To get an accurate idea of what you should be seeking for damages after your accident, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. During your free initial consultation, you will be able to go through some of the major factors and get a ballpark idea of the amount to seek. However, this amount will change as new information arises and your legal team continues to fine-tune your case.
Take a look below to get a general idea about some of the factors that go into these calculations, but keep in mind that the only way to truly determine the answer to this question, you will need to begin working with an attorney.
Calculating Economic Damages
These damages are the foundation of a personal injury case for reasons that will become clear when we discuss non-economic damages in the following section. Simply put, economic damages make up the damages in an accident that have established, measurable, and calculable dollar amounts appended to them, and typically come with receipts, invoices, and financial statements that prove the value of these damages.
These types of damages include all of the medical-related costs such as hospital bills, ambulance rides, prescriptions, surgeries, physical therapy sessions, copayments, and more. There are likely many more medical-related impacts than you are initially aware of, which is another reason that working with a lawyer is a great way to get a comprehensive understanding of your options.
In addition to medical costs, they also seek compensation for any income-related effects of the accident including missed time from work, vacation time or paid time off cashed in to cover missed work, and any impacts on the victim’s overall earning capacity. If your injuries impact your ability to return to work for an extended period of time, you may also be eligible to include disability payments in the damages amount. In certain cases where a victim is unable to return to their former work as a result of the accident, they may be able to receive compensation for things like job training, education, and other services to help them find a new career.
Finally, your economic damages will include expenses for any type of service that you have needed to hire that you would have otherwise been able to perform yourself, such as grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and any others. Your attorney will help you go through your day-to-day in order to get a good sense of these damages.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
As mentioned above, economic damages make up the basis of a personal injury lawsuit for a variety of reasons. First is because they are the most simple to calculate, but secondly, they are the amount that your non-economic damages rely on to be determined. This is because non-economic damages are intended to seek financial compensation for damages that do not have any measurable economic value, such as the actual pain and suffering that come with a physical injury.
Non-economic damages consider all of the “intangible” factors of an injury that are just as important as the measurable financial damages and attempts to put a dollar value on them. Pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, depression, and sadness, and being unable to pursue hobbies are just a few examples of non-economic damages, and while they are hard to put a value on, they are just as important.
One common method that an attorney may use in order to put a value on these damages is by using a multiplier, a number intended to indicate the severity of these damages in an understandable way. The attorney will take an accepted scale—for example, 1 through 5—and, after taking all of your non-economic impacts into account, choose a number that makes the most sense. This number will be the multiplier and applied to your economic damages in order to reach a final dollar amount.
If your attorney determines that your non-economic damages have a 2x multiplier and your economic damages are $100,000, then your non-economic damages will be 2 x $100,000, or $200,000 total.