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Common Personal Injury Claim Damages Explained

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When you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, restoring your health is the top priority. Unfortunately, there is no way to put the rest of your life on pause while you get better. You still have to find a way to manage the day-to-day while you recover. As an accident victim, you don’t have to endure these hardships on your own–some or most of the damages you are suffering may be compensated by the at-fault party or by your own insurance.

Damages, in the context of a personal injury claim, are defined as: a remedy in the form of a monetary settlement as compensation for loss or injury paid to an injured victim.

Calculating damages in a personal injury case depends on what losses the injured party suffered. These damages may include medical bills, lost income, cost to replace or repair damaged property, or even non-monetary issues like pain and suffering.

So, what are the different types of damages and how are they calculated?

Types of Compensation in a Personal Injury Case

An injury’s impact leaves no aspect of your life untouched. For that reason, various types of compensation are available for the setbacks, expenses, and inconveniences that arise.

Special Compensatory Damages

Special compensatory damages include expenses from a personal injury that have a specific dollar value associated with them. These are damages that are easily calculated because the dollar amount is clear. Special damages include medical bills and costs, lost wages, and additional expenses.

Medical Bills

In the United States, the average hospital stay costs $10,700. If you’ve been involved in a particularly serious accident, your out-of-pocket medical expenses can easily exceed that, especially if you don’t have insurance. Bills from recurring doctors’ visits and ongoing therapy can quickly add up, destroying a family’s budget. Additionally, one must consider future medical bills and costs when calculating special damages since once the settlement is reached, the amount cannot be increased. Fortunately, those who cause your injury can be held financially liable for your damages through a personal injury claim. These damages are calculated by adding up the medical bills, hospital bill, ambulance ride, therapy bills, any surgery costs, and any other medical costs. There is also the issue as to what costs, if any, there may be in the future regarding medical treatment like follow-up appointments and ongoing therapy.

Loss of Earning, Future and Past

If you have been injured–for example in a car accident–and you’ve missed work as a result, you are entitled to seek compensation for the money you missed out on while you were healing from your injury. This includes time away from work for your hospital stay, at-home recovery, medical appointments, and any other accident-related treatment that kept you away from your job.

Besides past lost wages, you may be entitled to compensation for future lost wages. A serious injury could leave you incapable of working for the rest of your life. In these cases, you can pursue compensation for the wages you could have reasonably earned if you had been able to continue on your career path.

Household Expenses

It takes a lot of work to run a household. The average person spends 60 and 90 minutes a day on chores. Whether it’s because of chronic pain or an intensive therapy schedule, you may not be able to dedicate that time to your home when you are recovering from an injury.

If you’re forced to pay for replacement services that you’d otherwise do yourself–like lawn care, a babysitter, or a house cleaning service–you can include these expenses in your personal injury case.

General Compensatory Damages

The second main category of damages due to a personal injury are general compensatory damages. All personal injury victims are presumed to have at least some general damages. General compensatory damages encompass the non-monetary damages suffered in an accident, like pain and suffering.

Pain and Suffering

Injuries caused by negligence often reduce quality of life either temporarily or permanently. These new restrictions or limitations may make you feel saddened or angry that you have to rely on someone else. If you’re in pain or disabled, you’re likely to miss out on events and social activities that gave your life meaning. Imagine not being able to pick up your grandchildren ever again because of a back injury. How much would that be worth to you?

Additionally, disfigurements and unsightly scars can make you feel less confident about your appearance, which can also lead you to withdraw from the hobbies and people you love. Because pain and suffering can be so life-changing, the courts recognize it as a valid reason for compensation.

Mental Anguish

Injuries take a mental and emotional toll on their victims. After an accident, you may spend sleepless nights worrying about your treatment and finances, or perhaps replaying the accident itself in your mind. A victim might suffer from post-traumatic stress after an accident. The mental anguish that arises from an accident can have serious consequences for your life. Imagine being so traumatized by a car accident that you aren't able to drive for a period of time afterward. How would that affect your life?

Loss of Consortium

An accident-related death or injury can lead to a loss of companionship. After an accident, it is not uncommon for a spouse to no longer be able to provide the same love, affection, comfort, or sexual relations that was previously enjoyed in the relationship. While it’s not a financial setback, this type of loss is quite damaging. Research has shown that a lack of companionship and intimacy can lead to depression.

Explaining Pain and Suffering Damage Calculation Methods The Multiplier Method

Insurance companies sometimes quantify pain and suffering with a multiplier method. First, they calculate compensatory damages described above. Once that amount is determined, they multiply it by a figure ranging from 1 to 5 depending on the severity of the injury. For example, a $5,000 price tag for relatively minor medical treatment may be multiplied by one and a half, totaling $7,500. More serious accidents, like those leading to permanent disability, would have a much higher multiplier. Obviously, this number is subjective so it is often negotiated between the injury victim’s lawyer and the defendant’s insurance company.

The Per Diem Method

An insurance company may try to use a per diem method. Per diem comes from latin for “per day”. As the name suggests they base their calculations on the number of days of pain and suffering and assign a daily pain and suffering value based on the seriousness of the injury.

For example, say you broke your leg in a slip and fall accident and you spent 150 days in recovery. The insurance company may offer $100 a day for your pain and suffering, therefore $15,000 in compensation. Your lawyer will then negotiate to try to raise that settlement offer.

How can an attorney help me receive the most compensation?

Since compensation methods aren’t always cut and dry, insurance companies take advantage of every opportunity they can to keep their profits high and your payout low. A Phoenix personal injury lawyer who is on your side knows their tactics and will help you to fight against them. At Abels & Annes, our experienced attorneys explore all possible avenues to secure maximum compensation for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another, call us for a free consultation at 602-819-5191 or fill out our contact form.

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