Personal Injury Claim
LexInter | September 9, 2022 | 0 Comments

How Compensation Is Calculated in a Personal Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured in an accident and are considering filing a personal injury claim, you may wonder how compensation is calculated. We look at the different types of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury claim and the factors that will affect how much you’re entitled to.

What Damages Can You Receive in a Personal Injury Claim?

When a personal injury claim is successfully resolved out of court, it results in a settlement. This is an agreement where the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff — the person who filed the claim — an amount of money to not proceed further with the case.

What Should You Share with Your Personal Injury Lawyer

In the rare case a personal injury claim goes to court, the verdict will determine whether or not the defendant is liable and must pay compensation, along with how much should be paid to the plaintiff following a guilty verdict.

Whether compensation is agreed upon in settlement negotiations or determined by a jury in court, it can comprise several types of damages.

These are economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages compensate you for the financial losses you’ve suffered due to your injuries.

Economic damages are so-named because they have a specific dollar amount attached, and they often include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. As such, they’re relatively easy to calculate because there is typically a clear record of expenses incurred.

For example, if you’ve been to the hospital, you will have paperwork showing how much your treatment costs. If you’re unable to work due to your injuries, you likely have payslips showing how much you’ve earned in previous months, which you can use to prove your lost wages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intended to compensate you for the non-financial losses you’ve suffered due to your injuries. They include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify because they don’t have a specific monetary value attached to them. Because of this, there are several ways of calculating non-economic damages.

The Function of Personal Injury Lawyers—What Do They Do

Many states use a multiplier. This is a number between one and five applied to the total economic damages. For example, if the monetary damages are $50,000 and a multiplier of two is used, the estimated value of non-economic damages would be $100,000.

Sometimes, an alternative method is used to determine non-economic damages, called per diem. With the per diem — Latin for “for each day” — method, a predetermined amount of money is awarded “for each day” the plaintiff suffers from their injuries. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $200 per day for a leg injury that causes them pain and suffering for a year, they would receive $73,000 ($200 multiplied by 365) in non-economic damages.

Depending on the severity of the injury and how long it impacts a victim, damages may be awarded for several months to years or even the rest of their life. If a victim is younger when they sustain a life-altering injury, such as losing a limb or suffering permanent paralysis, the amount of non-economic damages can be significant.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages (known in some states as exemplary damages) are the third type, only available if a claim is not settled out of court and heads to trial. There is no set formula for calculating punitive damages. Instead, it is up to the jury’s discretion in this case. If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, they can determine if these damages apply and how much punitive damages should be awarded.

Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their actions or to make an example of the defendant to send a message and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

They’re typically only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, such as driving while intoxicated.

Punitive damages can be challenging to calculate because there is no set formula for doing so. Instead, the amount of punitive damages is typically up to the jury’s discretion.

These damages are also not available in every state. Some states prohibit punitive damages in medical malpractice cases, while others bar these damages from being awarded in any civil case. In states that allow punitive damages, some don’t limit the amount that can be awarded, while others have a cap. For example, in Texas, the cap for punitive damages is either $200,000 or the award for non-economic damages (up to $750,000) plus twice the total of economic damages, whichever is greater.

This means that if you’re in this state and your non-economic damages total $200,000 and your economic damages are $100,000, the maximum amount you can receive in punitive damages is $400,000.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim

Punitive damages rarely apply in personal injury claims because most claims are settled out of court. That said, you are well within your rights to take your claim to trial if you choose. As illustrated with the above example, they can be complicated, so you should discuss your claim with an attorney in your state — such as a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio — so you know where you stand.

What Factors Affect How Much Compensation You Could Get?

Several factors can affect how much compensation you’re entitled to in a personal injury claim. These include:

The severity of your injuries: The more severe your injuries are, the more compensation you will receive.

Your financial losses: If you’ve suffered significant losses due to your injuries (medical bills, lost wages, etc.), you’re likely to receive more compensation than if your financial losses are relatively minor.

Whether you were partially at fault for the accident: If you contributed to your accident, you might still be able to claim compensation. This depends on the negligence laws in your state. In some states, you can’t file a personal injury claim even if you are 1% liable for your accident. In other states, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage you’re at fault for.

The state where the accident occurred: The state you’re in can affect your compensation in multiple ways. As already stated, some states limit whether or not you can claim at all if you’re partially responsible, while some have caps on the damages they can award. Your compensation could be limited, no matter how much financial loss you’ve experienced.

Personal injury claims are complex and how your compensation will be calculated depends on many factors. This makes it vital to consult an attorney who will advise you on how much you could be entitled to, negotiate a fair settlement, and fight your case in court if necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.

Want to read top-quality articles? If yes, then visit our blog. You will find tons of helpful articles written on various sectors of law such as pedestrian accident law, gun rights law, racial discrimination law, and many more.

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