If you or somebody you love has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, company, or entity, then you should be entitled to various types of compensation for your losses. However, how much compensation?
That is the pertinent question in these situations. Properly determining how much your injury claim is worth is crucial, and if you get it wrong and sign a release form, there is no way to go back and secure more compensation later on. Here, we want to discuss how to determine what your personal injury claim is worth.
Step One – Properly Calculate Medical Bills
Personal injury claims cannot be properly calculated without first understanding the total medical bills. Under no circumstances should a personal injury claim be settled before the injury victim reaches what their doctor considers maximum medical improvement. This is the point where they are not expected to get any better regardless of the level of care they receive. Settling a claim before maximum medical improvement is reached could result in a victim getting a settlement check before their total medical expenses are realized.
Step Two – Properly Calculate Lost Wages
Injury victims are often unable to work while they recover or due to a disability caused by the injury. It is critical to work with trusted economic and financial experts who can help properly calculate the victim’s total expected losses concerning income. This includes income lost during the period away from work and any loss of future earnings or future earning potential. For example, if a victim used to work construction but now has to work at a desk job because they lost the use of their legs, they may experience a loss of earning potential.
Step Three – Analyze Pain and Suffering and Emotional Distress
Pain and suffering and emotional distress damages are considered non-economic damages in a personal injury claim. These types of damages are harder to calculate because they are more difficult to measure properly. There are no bills or receipts that can show the level of a person’s pain and suffering and emotional distress. Rather, an attorney will likely use a multiplier method in these situations. They will take the total economic damages and multiply that by a set number (usually 1.5 to 5) to arrive at the non-economic damage total.
Step Four – Determine Each Party’s Level of Fault
In some cases, the injury victim may share some fault for the incident. California operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system in which multiple parties can share fault but still receive compensation for the incident. In fact, an injury victim can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. However, the total amount of payment they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. Comparative fault can reduce the total amount a victim receives, and this highlights why an injury victim should work with an attorney who can help determine the correct level of fault of all parties involved.
Step Five – Determine the Insurance Policy Limits
Most personal injury claims are resolved by settlements with insurance carriers, but the insurance carrier will not pay more than the policy limit says they have to. It could be the case that a victim’s injuries and other damages exceed the insurance policy limits. In these cases, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent party in order to recover the difference.