If you’ve been hurt in a slip or fall, a car accident, or in some other incident, you’ve likely suffered financially, physically, and mentally along the way. A common question when retaining a personal injury attorney is “how much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, it’s a simple question with a complicated answer.
Insurance companies typically value an injury settlement using formulas which take into account your injuries, the amount of medical treatment you need, and what they have previously settled similar cases for.
It’s important to remember that every case is different, but certain factors and laws are likely to impact the dollar amount of any injury claim for compensation.
If you are confused about what to do after an accident, you are not alone. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Florin|Roebig know how these insurance companies operate and can assist you in maximizing the value of your claim.
Determining How Much Your Personal Injury Claim Is Worth
The value of a personal injury claim is driven by the amount of damages involved. Typically, the party found legally responsible pays damages to the injured plaintiff to make up for the losses they’ve suffered because of the accident or injury.
From a financial standpoint, damages put a dollar value to the effects on the plaintiff caused by the accident. The final amount of damages in a lawsuit can be determined either by an agreed-upon amount in a settlement or, by a jury in a trial.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff’s losses usually fit into two types of damages that make the foundation of their claim: economic, also known as “special” damages and non-economic, also called “general” damages.
Economic damages, or special damages, include current and future financial losses. These costs are usually based on amounts that get recorded in numbers along the way. For that reason, setting a dollar value for these types of losses can be easier to calculate when building a claim.
Economic costs can include:
- medical bills to treat the injury
- damage to or loss of property
- lost wages for time off work
- other out-of-pocket losses
Non-economic damages, or general damages, can be more challenging to calculate because they usually account for the physical and mental toll that comes from the accident or injury. This can include the plaintiff’s physical discomfort and pain—or pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages also take into account:
- emotional distress/metal anguish
- loss of enjoyment
- loss of consortium
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How Types Of Damages Affect Your Personal Injury Claim Value
The following common compensatory damages often play a big role in determining the value of a personal injury claim:
This amount represents the total amount of bills that have been charged for medical care, even if you did not pay out of pocket at the time you were treated. Medical bills can include therapy and nursing care. If your injury will require ongoing treatment, you may want to record an estimate for likely future medical expenses as well.
Property Damage Or Loss
The value of any personal property that has been damaged or lost in the accident should be taken into account for repairs or compensation. Property damage to vehicles is common in car accident cases. However, these damages can be included in slips and falls or other incidents where personal items such as clothes or belongings may be destroyed.
Personal injury damages often include reimbursement for income that you lost because of the impact of the accident. Depending on the case, these damages could compensate you for not just the wages that you already lost for time off work to recover, but also your lost earning capacity, or income that you would have been able to earn in the future if it wasn’t for the accident.
You may be entitled to compensation for other expenses, that you’ve had to pay on your own as a result of the accident. Common out-of-pocket expenses include co-pays for medications or treatment, paying for transportation if you’re unable to drive, and replacement services like hiring a maid or lawn service if you’re unable to perform those tasks.
Pain And Suffering
A damage award based on the physical discomfort and pain that occurs during the accident and/or afterward is often described as compensation for an accident victim’s pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is one of the most subjective concepts in the law and it is important to hire an experienced attorney who can relate what you’re feeling to an insurance adjuster, defense attorney, or jury.
Ongoing pain may also be considered as part of your pain and suffering damages as well. Typically, the more serious, long-lasting, and painful the injury, the higher the level of pain and suffering.
Aside from physical pain and discomfort, you may want to seek compensation for emotional distress if an injury has had a psychological impact on you.
Usually found in more serious accident cases, the emotional distress of an injury can bring on signs of:
- sleep loss
Depending on your state, emotional distress may be considered as part of any pain and suffering damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Loss Of Enjoyment
Loss of enjoyment damages typically relates to how an injury affects a victim’s ability to participate in their daily tasks. If, for instance, an accident-related injury now keeps you from being able to enjoy the same day-to-day lifestyle activities (such as exercise or hobbies), you may want to consider seeking damages for loss of enjoyment.
Loss Of Consortium
These damages are meant to compensate a plaintiff for the effect an injury has had on their close personal relationships, typically the one they share with their spouse.
For example, you may be eligible for compensation if an injury has caused you to suffer from a loss of companionship, or an inability to maintain a sexual relationship with your spouse. In some states, the impact an injury has on a parent-child relationship may also be considered as part of the loss of consortium damages.
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Determining Fault And How It Affects The Value Of Your Claim
Depending on your state, an injury plaintiff’s level of fault for causing an accident can reduce the amount of compensation a jury would be allowed to award if the case went to trial. As a result, an injured person who shares fault for an accident may find the value of their claim reduced at least partially.
If your own carelessness or negligence played a part in causing an accident to occur, the law in your state may require a cutback on the amount of damages you receive for compensation. The amount that is reduced is usually based on the state where the accident occurred.
Personal Injury Claim State Laws
In some states, damages are reduced in an amount equal to your percentage of fault. In other states, however, any fault on the part of the plaintiff could cause the award to be cut completely.
When it comes to an injured person’s role in causing an accident, states typically follow one of three basic types of negligence rules:
- pure comparative negligence
- modified comparative negligence
- contributory negligence
Here is a basic breakdown of how each would impact damages in a personal injury suit:
Pure Comparative Negligence
In states that use pure comparative negligence, which includes Florida, the damages in a personal injury suit are reduced directly by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault for the accident. For example, if you were found to be 30 percent at fault, the dollar amount of your damages would be directly reduced by 30 percent.
Modified Comparative Negligence
The modified comparative negligence standard follows the same pattern as pure comparative negligence, but only up to a point. States that use this method to determine damages based on fault include Colorado and Minnesota.
Under this rule, the dollar amount in damages is still reduced by the percentage of fault. However, if your percentage of fault for causing the accident is decided to be equal to or greater than 50 percent (different states have different limits), you are no longer allowed to collect damages.
As a result, injured plaintiffs in states that use modified comparative negligence and share fault at 50 percent or more may find that their claim will be reduced in value.
This does not mean, however, that any claim will be worthless simply because a plaintiff is at least partly at fault. Meet with an experienced personal injury attorney at Florin|Roebig to discuss your rights and what compensation you can receive for your specific case.
Between these three standards, contributory negligence is considered the most strict when it comes to reducing damages for shared fault.
Contributory negligence prevents an injured plaintiff from collecting any damages whatsoever if they are found to be at fault for the accident, regardless of the percentage.
This means that even 1 percent fault found on the part of the plaintiff could drastically lower the value of their claim in states that use this rule. However, the best way to find out whether your claim would be impacted is to seek the legal advice of a personal injury lawyer.
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Finding A Personal Injury Lawyer
Florin|Roebig lawyers have experience with securing compensation for clients who have suffered injuries in accidents. Don’t settle for less. Let our results-driven attorneys provide help you through the process of filing an injury claim. Contact our office today to get started with a confidential and free consultation.