How Are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated?

a gavel sitting on top of numerous hundred-dollar bills

Determining the full amount of what a personal injury claim is worth can be daunting. Many different factors must be considered, and unfortunately, you can’t trust insurance companies to do the right thing. At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our attorneys help clients understand personal injury settlement calculations and fight to recover maximum compensation for their damages.

What Are Damages?

There are two main types of damages that may be recovered in personal injury claims.

Special damages are economically quantifiable damages, such as past and future medical bills and lost wages, and property damage. Although calculating special damages may seem simple, it requires the knowledge of a skilled attorney, especially if you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury or permanent disability. Some injuries may require ongoing treatment or can impede your ability to earn a living, so it’s critical to calculate the amount of your future losses accurately.

General damages are intangible, non-economic damages that include emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, mental anguish, and consortium loss. General damages are more challenging to determine, as there’s no objective measure for physical and emotional pain.

Calculating Special Damages

Personal injury settlement calculations for special damages include the actual dollar amounts of:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Nursing or home care
  • Diagnostic testing such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and lab work
  • Medications, prostheses, medical equipment and supplies, home modification, and transportation to and from medical appointments
  • Past and future wage loss
  • The cost of household services, such as childcare and housekeeping
  • Property damage and loss

It’s important to save every medical bill and receipt for all accident-related expenses, even if your health insurance covered all or a portion of it. This documentation is critical for your attorney to do an accurate personal injury settlement calculation.

Calculating General Damages

Part of the reason for calculating general damages is more challenging because everyone’s experience is different. Even if you suffer an injury similar to another person’s condition, you may have more pain or be unable to make a living because of the type of work you do. The circumstances surrounding each personal injury claim is unique, as well. Experienced lawyers understand that many things must be taken into consideration when it comes to injury settlement calculation. Extreme mental anguish, persistent or severe pain, permanent injuries, and violent or shocking events that can cause serious physical, psychological, and emotional damage can all increase the value of your claim.

Typically, insurance adjusters calculate general noneconomic damages by using a multiplier of 1 to 5 times the total amount of your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. However, your attorney may negotiate a larger amount if they believe these multipliers do not adequately compensate you for non-economic damages.

Punitive Damages

When an at-fault party’s acts are particularly egregious or intentionally harmful, a lawyer may pursue punitive damages in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the negligent party and deter other people from committing similar acts. Most states put limits on the amount of punitive damages you can receive.

Other Factors That Affect Personal Injury Settlement Calculation

Policy limits — If the total amount of damages you’re requesting exceeds the at-fault party’s insurance limits, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover the difference.

Shared fault — If you are partially responsible for an accident or your injuries, the compensation you’re entitled to receive may be reduced by an amount that’s equal to your percentage of fault.

Your age, occupation, and the location where the injury occurred can also play a role in personal injury calculation. Typically, you don’t want to accept the first settlement offer you receive from an insurance company. Your attorney can accurately calculate your claim and aggressively negotiate on your behalf. If an insurer rejects your claim or refuses to pay the amount you’re asking, your personal injury attorney might take your case to civil court.

Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, we have more than 30 years of experience in successfully handling personal injury claims. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, we can help ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve. Call us in Bethlehem at 610-867-2900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have four convenient locations and represent all injured victims throughout all counties in Eastern PA.

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