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How Is Damage Determined in a Lawsuit?

How Is Damage Determined in a Lawsuit?

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How Is Damage Determined in a Lawsuit?

If you want to recover the compensation that you feel you deserve in a civil lawsuit, it is extremely important to determine how damages are calculated. Whether you're talking about property damage or personal injury damages from medical conditions, you’ll need to understand the impact of damages in your case so that you can prepare strong evidence for your claim. 

You can determine damages by hiring an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to give you support for this entire process. When a lawyer is helping you to collect evidence and put together a compelling case, you can greatly increase your chances of full and fair damage recovery. 

There are several different types of damages available to people who are injured in a lawsuit.

Understanding Damages

Before you can answer the question, “how is damage determined in a lawsuit,” it's important to understand what damages actually are. Damages are sums of money that are rewarded to a plaintiff following a lawsuit. These damages can be paid out as part of a settlement offer agreed to by the parties involved in a lawsuit or as a part of a court trial over these topics. 

Damages are the amount of compensation that the plaintiff will receive from the defendant, and the judge or the jury will determine the damages in a lawsuit if the parties involved are not able to come to terms on their own. There are multiple different factors that can influence damage payments, including the kind of case the plaintiff has brought and the kinds of injuries they sustained. In general, more severe injuries lead to more involved damages. 

For those victims who have comprehensive injury claims with many different elements, it is very important to hire an attorney to ensure that you understand how damage is determined in a lawsuit and to increase your possibility of maximum compensation.

The more serious your injuries, the higher their resulting costs, and the more long-term your injuries are can all influence the damage amount received in your case. 

Different Damage Types

As mentioned above, there are several different types of damages that could apply in your lawsuit. The two primary kinds of damages are punitive and compensatory. There are two types of compensatory damages. The first being economic damages, and the second being non-economic damages. 

Economic damages are designed to make the plaintiff whole again after suffering from an injury. These are designed to repay the plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses that they had to undergo because of actions from the defendant. For example, a plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit might have some substantial medical bills. These could fall under the category of economic damages and can also include medication costs, rehabilitation expenses, therapy payments, lost wages, hospital bills, and property damage. The second category of compensatory damages are non-economic damages, which are designed to compensate the plaintiff for what they went through in the accident beyond the direct payments they have already been charged for treatment. These are more difficult to calculate and require the experience of a knowledgeable attorney. 

Examples of non-economic damages include loss of life enjoyment, mental anguish, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. When it comes to punitive damages, these are only awarded in very specific cases in which the behavior of the defendant was extremely egregious or negligent. This is calculated separately from compensatory damages when money is awarded to reimburse the plaintiff for the financial difficulties that they went through. 

If the defendant was extremely reckless, for example, punitive damages might be awarded in that lawsuit. In determining the answer to how damages are determined in a lawsuit when it comes to punitive damages, this is one of the most subjective aspects of your case and this is why it is strongly recommended to retain the services of a personal injury lawyer. 

Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer for their actions and are not always involved in cases. This is why you want to sit down with a lawyer at the outset of your case to identify whether or not punitive damages are even a possibility. Emotional damages are not as easy to calculate as economic damages because they can be measured in a number of different ways. You'll want to work with a lawyer who has done this before and who has presented compelling cases in this manner to increase your chances of full and fair recovery. There are two common ways that many people help to answer the question of how damages are determined in a lawsuit when it comes to emotional damages. 

First of all, your lawyer can hire an expert witness to discuss the trauma that the defendant suffered. The other option is for the plaintiff or for someone who is close to the plaintiff to testify about how the actions of the defendant affected the plaintiff.

Basics of Calculating Personal Injury Damages

As soon as possible after you've been injured, you will want to gather evidence and schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. This is because it is essential to determine how much money you could be owed. 

This often happens after your injury when the insurance company gets involved and tries to negotiate a settlement directly with you. If you are not able to settle out of court or if no insurance is involved, you will need to work with your personal injury lawyer to calculate your possible damages. This way, you know whether you will be looking at an unlimited, limited civil, or small claims case. 

Typically, an injured party has the right to recover compensation from the other person for all expenses related to their injury, but there are no specific formulas or methods within the law to determine the amount that is owed. A combination of actual expenses and compensation for pain and suffering are used. Many attorneys as well as insurance carriers use mathematical formulas to estimate the overall value of an injury and use that as a starting point for negotiation. Special damages and general damages should both be included. 

Once you have calculated these amounts, you are ready to think about your general damages. Many insurance companies use what is known as the multiplier method, assigning a number between 1 and 5 to your base damages. If you have more severe injuries, you may be able to make a case for multiplying your basic compensation for medical bills and lost wages, etc., times five. More serious injuries will usually lead to higher expenses which is why these multipliers are used. However, you and your insurance company might not be able to agree on the multiplier used and other elements of your case. 

It can be overwhelming to try to handle this on your own, so hiring a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to help you figure out how damages are determined in a lawsuit makes it easier for you to know that you are getting the best possible opportunity to move forward with your life. No one wants to find themselves in this position on their own because it can be very difficult to determine your next steps. You might think that it is easy to arrive at this number on your end, but you will then need to present evidence and possibly argue with the insurance company about it on the other end. 

For this reason, you want to turn this over to your lawyer so that your lawyer can be involved in these negotiations and possible settlement offers rather than putting that additional pressure on you. If you're not familiar with what it takes to handle a personal injury lawsuit, you can make things much easier for yourself and reduce your stress by hiring an attorney.

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Damages FAQs

  • What if I Don’t Agree With the Damages?

    The other side might calculate damages and present to you with an offer. You don’t have to agree with their offer or accept it outright, although you can. Most insurance carriers are hoping you accept this initial offer so that the matter can be closed, but you are not obligated to do that. 

    If your personal injury lawyer gets a settlement offer from the other side, they should come to you with the offer and some insight on whether or not it makes sense. In some cases, a settlement offer is a compromise because you might not get the full amount you were hoping for, but you benefit from the certainty of the settlement offer and that payment amount if you accept it. 

    There are always pros and cons to weigh when you’re thinking about working through a settlement offer. If you feel that your damages would be mostly or completely covered as a result of the settlement offer, it might be in your best interests to accept it. Only you can decide what is best for your situation, but your lawyer can provide that beneficial third party insight to make the decision in line with your personal goals and considerations. 

    If you’re ready to take your first steps toward determining your damages, contact the experts at Morgan & Morgan for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get started.

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