Every personal injury claim is different from the other. There is no single formula to calculate the exact claim amount. As such, your claim amount depends on several circumstances leading to your injury. Insurance companies term personal injury losses as “damages.” Any physical or mental injury caused to you by somebody else’s negligence makes you liable for injury claims.
Compensation for personal injury claims are classified into two categories:
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
Compensatory damages are further subdivided into:
- General damages
- Special damages
Calculating General Damages
Non-financial losses that are caused by a personal injury are considered to be general damages. It is tough to estimate such losses due to the lack of criteria to measure them. Similar injuries might cause different extents of pain and suffering in two individuals. While one might go through depression due to the same loss or damage, the other person might not feel any mental imbalance.
General damages could include:
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Anxiety and depression
- Physical aches and pains
You are the best person to assess your own personal suffering from an injury. As such, you may assign suitable value to any type of general damage in your claim. When hiring a personal injury attorney, ensure that they serve all of San Diego to make it easier to schedule meetings and communicate in person.
Calculating Special Damages
All economic damages from an injury are covered under special damages. These are measurable losses for you and are easier to calculate. Special damages consider everything that you might have already lost and could continue losing in the future due to a personal injury. Such damages could include:
- Cost of medical treatments and therapies
- Cost of damaged property repair
- Out of pocket expenses like copayments, insurance deductions
- Past and future loss of wages or income
Special damages cover the principal amount of your injury claim. It acts as the foundation or base for other add ons, which will materialize at your actual amount of injury claim.
Your healthcare plan might have repaid some of your medical expenses already. However, you should include all available medical bills for your injury claim. You must also include estimated future expenses for applicable special damages.
Punitive damages refer to monetary punishment for the defendant as a caution. Such damages are also termed “exemplary damages.” The court can award punitive damages alongside compensatory damages if it finds the defendant’s conduct intolerable or highly careless.
Such damages usually have an upper cap for personal injury cases. The primary objective of punitive damages is to discourage the defendant from future accidents of similar nature through penalty.
Other Factors Influencing the Value of Your Claim
Few other factors that you might need to consider while assessing your claim amount could be:
If the adjuster could establish partial blame upon you for the personal injury accident, then it might reduce the value of your claim by a certain percentage of your liability. Most state laws have provisions to reduce your claim or deny it if you are found equally to blame for the accident.
Defendants who are at fault always try to compensate your claim through their insurance policies. But their coverage could be much lesser than your actual claim amount. You would need to file a lawsuit in that case to recover the difference.
Venue for Settlement
The value of your claim would also depend upon whether you opt for an out-of-court settlement or not. Usually, insurance adjusters favor a settlement without a lawsuit. They could be willing to pay much more in such cases. This is particularly true for states where juries are known to favor victims more.
Invalid Medical Invoices
You must thoroughly verify all the medical expenditure bills you submit with your claim. The defendant’s insurance company would not be willing to pay for any excessive or non-essential medical expenditure. Such companies would try to reduce the value of your claim by the difference in the amount so obtained.
Putting Everything Together
Finally, you would need to self represent or take help from your personal injury attorney to convince the insurance company to pay for your claim. The total amount of special, general, and probable punitive damages should be your compensation demand. Your final demand should be what you would believe as fair compensation for all your losses due to an injury.