If you have been injured as a result of another party’s negligence, you may be thinking about pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. You could receive compensation to cover aspects of your life that have been affected, including damages for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. However, you may be wondering how to calculate damages in personal injury cases and exactly what your settlement could look like. Calculating these damages can be more complicated than you might think. If you need help with a personal injury lawsuit, Morgan & Morgan is always available. As the largest personal injury firm in America, we have lawyers throughout the country who can help you no matter where you’re located. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free consultation.
Calculating Economic Damages
Economic damages are objectively verifiable monetary losses. This can include medical expenses, future estimated medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and property damage. While this type of damage may seem easier to calculate, you will need to gather all relevant documentation to get a true picture of the compensation you should seek.
For instance, if you wish to sue for medical expenses, you must retrieve all of your relevant medical bills. This may not be as simple as retrieving the medical bills from the doctor you’ve seen consistently throughout your treatment. If your medical situation required testing and you received two bills, one from the facility for the use of an MRI machine and a bill from the doctor who interpreted the results, you will need to combine both totals. Additionally, if you require any physical therapy or nursing care, you will need to find these totals as well.
Lost wages and property damage are likely easier to calculate. For lost wages, simply calculate the sum of your lost earnings, including any paid time off benefits you needed to use for your recovery. If you were in an accident where you would need to calculate property damage, such as a car accident, you can retrieve estimates from an automotive repair shop.
Loss of earning capacity may prove difficult to calculate. You can provide an estimate for how long you will not be able to work, based on your medical prognosis.
Future medical expenses can be based on an estimate of your current medical treatment. It will be beneficial to consult with any practitioners involved in your health care regarding the future of your medical treatment for this calculation. Once you have collected all estimates, add them together for your economic damages.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages, also known as subjective damages, are intangible losses. Typically, this can include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. Since non-economic damages are more difficult to determine, it will definitely be beneficial to work with a lawyer who is experienced in this type of calculation. If you would like to try yourself, though, there are a few different methods for calculation.
The first method, which many insurance adjusters use, is to use a multiplier. Typically, you would use a number between 1.5 and 5, with 1.5 being on the lower end of pain and suffering while 5 is on the higher end. You will multiply the sum of your economic damages by the multiplier number you’ve chosen.
The difficult part of this method is deciding on an appropriate multiplier. If it is too high, you will likely face trouble justifying the high amount of compensation you have asked for. Ensure you are considering factors such as the severity and/or permanence of your injuries, your prospects for a complete recovery, the impact of your injuries on your daily life, and whether the negligent party was clearly and solely at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. It would help to provide documentation to support the multiplier you wish to use, such as your medical documentation and evidence of the other party’s negligence. You will have to prove the other party’s negligence during your case anyway. Knowing how to calculate damages in personal injury cases can be complicated but can be very beneficial.
Though less often used, you could also calculate pain and suffering using the per diem (or daily rate) method. Instead of using a multiplier, you would assign a daily rate in dollars and multiply it by the days that you are experiencing pain. The difficult part of this method is figuring out an appropriate daily rate. Those who use this method often assign their actual daily earnings as the per diem rate. The justification for this is that dealing with the pain from the injuries could be comparable to the effort of going to work daily. This method is not always appropriate for individuals who experience permanent or long-term injuries, but if you would like to use this method anyway, you could consult with a lawyer on ways to circumvent this problem.
If you are unsure of which method is most appropriate for your case, you could always start by using both methods, then comparing the numbers. They will likely be similar in their final amount, and you can average out the number to know how much to ask for in compensation. Since calculating non-economic damages can easily become complicated, however, it is recommended you consult with a lawyer who can assist you.